Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Laughter is indeed the best medicine...

There's a theory out there about laughter. It's based on the fact that when monkeys "laugh" it's an aggressive expression, where they're "showing their teeth" to weaker members of their pack.
It goes on about how laughter is in fact an expression of a feeling of superiority.

That's why, according to this theory, we laugh at slapstick humor - bad things happening to people - or at racist, sexist, discriminating etc jokes. When we laugh at something directed at us, it's just because we feel that we're beyond that remark, either because it is untrue or exaggerated, or because we don't care about its truth.

When we laugh at jokes directed to a group we belong to, it's because we're able to separate ourselves from the stereotype, but we're aware of its existence. My mother will laugh at blonde jokes, although she's blonde, because she feels secure about her intelligence. I will laugh at jokes about women, or about Greeks, or any other group I belong to but don't identify with its stereotypes. And I started laughing at Bluthan's jokes about my ass for example when I realised that he likes it the way it is and stopped feeling threatened.

And that's why we stop laughing at jokes which we've heard too many times before. They start being annoying, so they affect us. Or we refuse to identify with the person who tells the joke, because his recent realisation is our already-possessed knowledge, so in a sense he is inferior to us - or we take no pride in the realisation.

We laugh at things we believe are beneath us, or inconsequential to us. There are indeed times where it would be inappropriate to make a joke - we would feel guilty making a joke about someone we cared about at his funeral, or if we know that someone in the "audience" of the joke is not comfortable with its subject matter - but I do think that laughing things off is the best way to come to terms with them. When we start seeing things as funny, we find reasons why it should not annoy us. When we laugh at something, we cast it aside, and we allow ourselves to stop worrying about it.

So, next time something bothers you, try and find ways to make it sound funny in your head. Invent jokes about it, exaggerate it, parody it. It's been working for me, lately, and I'm happier. And, mark my word, it will never stop you from doing what needs to be done about it - if anything, it just helps you think clearer, see the big picture and face it effectively.

1 comment:

MacHighlander said...

Thank God for laughter indeed...!

This is also why satire works so well... good satire, that is. Making fun of the daily situations that appear in the social and political life is sometimes the best way to put them into context, and perhaps understand more about them. Or simply make them more bearable, at times. Laughing in the face of a crisis will never make it go away, of course, but it will always give you an extra edge against it.