Sometimes it doesn’t feel okay to laugh. After a difficult time, it can be a long time until things make you laugh.
A conversation with my best friend recently had us reflecting on where we turn to when things don’t make sense. Saturday Night Live, hosted by Dave Chapelle, was the first time both of us had laughed hard in that week.
Actually, on the Wednesday I watched an 18-minute compilation of Vines of toddlers doing dumb things. I laughed at that. But SNL was the first time I had laughed at what had happened. Time had passed, and some of the brightest minds in comedy made it all make sense.
If you don’t know me well, comedy is one of my “things.” You know how people have things? Like knitting, or curling, or making macaroons? Mine is comedy, same as my best friend. So we know something is off when it’s hard to laugh.
So in times of need, we look to the best. (You may have different bests. Please tell me who they are, I love learning more comedians. But these are some of mine)
George Carlin, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Louis C.K., Robin Williams, John Mulaney, Hannibal Burress, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock. In another medium, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Jimmy Fallon. All different, all geniuses, and all able to do something wonderful: cut through the noise of every day life and explain what is happening in the world around us, and why it’s still okay to laugh.
Dave Chapelle reminded me it’s okay to laugh. He managed, through skits and his monologue, remove a lot of the noise. Chapelle used his voice, ideas, and humour to make things clearer. He didn’t fix anything. He just reminded us that we’re people, and it’s okay to laugh when we’re scared.
We laugh because if we don’t, this world will eat us, spit us back out, and go for seconds.
I like comedy. It is to me, one of the weirdest and most pure things imaginable. Take a microphone, your brain, your body and your words, and go make people laugh. Being successful at it and making someone laugh after a tough day, or letting someone forget their problems for just a moment, is like heroin.* It is the best feeling on the planet, and one I hope to keep doing forever in some capacity or another.
*Mom, I have no idea what heroin is really like. It’s just a saying.
I’ve read here that in America post-election, comedy clubs are becoming less and less “funny” and more of a political discussion. That’s not what I’m here to defend, or attack. What I am saying instead is to remember to laugh. Things are scary, confusing, and dark at times. But laughter really is somehow the best medicine.
Find the funny. Maybe not in what scares, concerns, or frightens you. But at least find it in vines of kids being dumb. The world has, and always will, need to laugh.