Monday, May 31, 2010

Laugh It Up

We should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.

In Eugene O'Neill's play "Long Days Journey Into Night" James Tyrone wants to know what his young son Edmund is laughing about and he says he's laughing at life because it's so funny.

Ancient Greek theatre was a very vibrant, powerful and important one. There would be a festival at which four plays were presented all by the same author. The plays were based on ancient Greek history or legend. It often took a year to prepare them. The acting and the writing needed to be spectacular to hold a Greek audience for that length of time, and they were. Many of those plays still exist and the few famous ones, Oedipus the King, Hecuba, Medea, sometimes show up in regional theatres and Off-Broadway.

Though the plays took their plots from stories everyone knew the themes were relevant to life and portrayed the tragedies and dramas of human existence. While the first three plays in the festival were tragedies and high dramas the fourth play was a comedy. It was a parody, a satire on the same topic as the first three plays. After the audience had been put through the thunder dramas of life they were allowed to laugh about it.

Many of those ancient plays have been lost. But, and here a classical scholar, if there is one reading this, can inform me further if I'm mistaken, as far as I know only one of those final satires still exists: The Cyclops by Euripides, based on the Ulysses story.

There is a great lesson here. There isn't anything in life, no matter how dramatic, tragic or terrifying it may be that doesn't deserve to be laughed at. My developed and cherished sense of humor allows me to poke fun at everything about life, except other people. People change, life doesn't. To make fun of people is a bad way to get a laugh. I don't listen to people like Limbaugh, Leno and Beck. They take delight in putting other people down by scorning them and trying to make me laugh at them. It's cheap. low level. decadent humor and a total waste of my time.


(This is not a contest.)

In your opinion what is the most amazing thing that could happen during this decade? Make it as outrageous as you want but keep it within the realm of what you consider a possibility.

14 responses so far.

Answers will be published the first day of Summer.

Thank you.

DB - The Vagabond


Linda S. Socha said...

I am glad you expressed the opinion about Leno's humor which has been my feeling...but not at the surface...I just don't watch him.. Hope your weekend id ok DB

Liz said...

If I don't laugh I cry.
The middle of the road is for cat’s eyes that reflect headlights and take the hits from passing vehicles as they lay on a long white lie…oops… line.

Valerie said...

Cheap jokes at other people's expenses is the worst humor there is. It isn't humor. It's meanness. Hugs to you, DB. xox

Big Mark 243 said...

One of the things about certain styles of humor is the objects of the ridicule. Some funny people as well as the unintentionally funny, find humor in picking on the weak and those who threaten their sense of being.

That isn't humor. That is insecurity masking itself as something funny. The nervous laughter is present because of the sense of relief people feel because it isn't them.

pacifica62 said...

If we make fun of other people, it means that they, in turn,can make fun of us. It does not feel good to be the butt of someone else's jokes, so why would we do it to unsuspecting others? Are you talking about the events in life that are dramatic, tragic or terrifying that deserve to be laughed at or are you talking about, in retrospect, finding humour in our very human reactions to some of these events?

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

Not a Leno fan, but we do like Letterman and Craig Ferguson.

Cathy said...

Nietzsche laughed at the idea of this god he couldn't grasp the idea of. But he was a man of his time, and that's the key. You say people change and life remains constant, well if I were to laugh at the idea of god today I'd be shunned. It's the times a person finds themselves in, wouldn't you say? Humor makes us very much alike, and constant, in our personhood. Our humanity. The first thing we should laugh at is how serious we've become. Yes, once laughter was the respite the theater-going Greek would need after something like Medea. I think those who go for laughs at another's expense do so for ratings, and prefer not to dwell on who they've hurt. Someone of privilege and fame is considered fair game they say. I have to agree. Laughter at what is not average for us all helps soothe our envious confusion. I really think if Leno or the other pranksters were told they did someone a great injustice and caused pain, they'd make public mea culpas. It's all for MONEY! They're not thinking of even whether or not it's true. Did we not laugh at O'bama's faux pas at his swearing in? Hopefully he did too, but I doubt it - his loss, because it WAS funny. These late-night bores are saying "let me relieve your mediocrity by joking about someone you know you'll never be but want to" they hit a nerve we don't like to feel. They're making a living I guess I'd be ashamed to admit to, but we're only humans swimming upstream in a lake of confusion - what's okay to laugh at, what's not? We laugh at Amelia not having a good compass, would we have done that decades ago when we searched for her? We even laugh at ladies hiding their eyes at the sight of the glorious "David" is that too wrong or just - human? If someone laughed at me as I took a tumble from my cane, I'd smile and make a joke about "lend me YOUR leg, then I'll be fine" kind of thing. Who cares? So much hurts us, SO much, that whenever I find a way to ease that pain I USE IT. I have to. Which means, in the abridged edition, I agree with much of your post lol.