Saturday, September 12, 2009

Yielding Yucks 9/12/09

No matter how bad life gets, you may weep and rage and feel sorry for yourself, but above all, gain and grasp with all your might an abiding sense of humor.

DB - The Vagabond
Land your space ship over here.
There's an old saying in the entertainment world: "Comedy is serious business." And one of the definitions of "farce" in its theatrical sense is "A passion carried to a ridiculous extreme."

This is not a discussion of the synergy between pleasure and pain. That's a different subject and one I'd rather not get into. But if you listen to an audience enjoying a good comedy without knowing what they are laughing at, it frequently sounds like they are all screaming in pain. In the same sense it often appears that someone who is caught up in a net of fear and sorrow can seem funny to someone who doesn't know or feel their pain. But what's so funny? Nothing, to the person who's grieving. And yet, maybe it can be.

Many years ago, partly through my own odd sense of things, engendered, no doubt, by my acting experiences, and partly because of the influence of other people, I developed an appreciation of the ironies and absurdities of life. From someone who was so defensive and protective of my, so called, dignity, I became someone who could discard my false armor and laugh at myself.

"This helmet, I suppose
Is meant to ward off blows.
It's very hot
And weighs a lot
As many a guardsman knows.
So off this helmet goes."
(W. S. Gilbert)

So how do we learn to cast off the fake helmet of pride and laugh at ourselves? The first step is to realize that sometimes we are funny. Have you ever boiled the water for a cup of tea, poured the water into your cup, carried it over to your desk and realized you forgot to put the tea bag in the cup?

My grandmother was a great one to laugh at herself. We were outside one day when her hat blew off. My brother went chasing after it and every time he leaned over to pick it up the wind blew it again. After a couple of times my grandmother got the giggles. It was her cherished hat but somehow the silliness of the attempted retrieval was enough to strike her as very funny. And when my grandmother laughed the whole word around her laughed along,

But the most amazing story about her sense of humor was just before she died. We had to pick her up from her hotel room in New York. It was in the early 50s, I was 14 years old and I had to dress up in a tie and jacket to enter the hotel. When we got her home she had to go up a flight of stairs. She knew she couldn't make it so we got a chair, sat her in it and with my mother in front and me behind we lifted her step by step up the stairs. Every time I leaned over to grab the back of the chair, my tie would fall in her face. She began to laugh, and soon we were all laughing. She knew her days were done and she was coming home to die, But she could still laugh, and I will never forget that.

It may not be great guffaws. It may be silent. But there is humor in every situation in life, no matter how tragic, if we learn to look for it and enjoy the joke. Laughter will clean the slate, clear the air, relax the tension and cast light into our dark and somber view of things. I'm very grateful that I finally developed a sense of humor.

May the big bubble of joy surround you.

Summer is almost over, Autumn is on the way (check your calendar if you don't believe me). Answers to the SUMMER QUIZ will be posted on the first Day of Autumn. But then the AUTUMN QUIZ will start. And that's where you come in.

Your mission is to provide me with a question, or two or three, for the AUTUMN QUIZ. You may enter as many times as you wish (no proof of purchase necessary) but you have only till September 30, so get cracking.

The decision of the biased, curmudgeonly judge is final.

The winner not only gets his/her question posted for the season, but also gets to sit on my front porch and listen to me ramble on for hours about nothing in particular.

Good luck.



Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Laughter is music to the ears for a clown :o)

Autumn Question: If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be and why?

Rose~* said...

I started very young with my sense of humour, and still haven't lost it yet. Sometimes, I even laugh until I cry . . .
Autumn question?
What is your favourite season, and why?

Cathy said...

"Life is easy, comedy is hard." Anon out-of-work stand-up comic.

Autumn question: What would you tell humanity about surviving if you were an evolved being?

Beth said...

I love the story of your grandmother and her laughter. She sounds like a wonderful woman with a great sense of humor! Sometimes laughter can make even the worst situation a little bit better.

Autumnal Equinox Question: Do you feel that a person learns more from their failures or from their successes?