Laughter is the Best Medicine

By Tony Moorby July 05, 2022

As insistence on recognizing individual fixations of groups of this persuasion or that grows, our sense of humor is being tested. A nation who has historically, easily laughed at itself, is losing its ability to use what has always been a social pressure relief valve.

Even the boldest comedians are avoiding subjects to do with anything that might offend, criticize or mock. Satire is off limits, no matter how clever or intelligent. It’s a shame because an ability to see the humor in things or situations tends to keep a balance in what’s important and what’s not, in any society.

Laughter tests extremism and brings a perspective that’s open and questioning. We should accept and allow humor to bring an easier look around us. Today we’re scared to opine on anything that may offend even the fringe and absolutists. 

Did Hitler have a sense of humor? Putin? Just a look at their deadpan faces tells the answer to that. Comedians are the first to fall in totalitarian regimes; their leaders hate being laughed at as laughter questions their fallibility and points to inconsistencies.

Extremism, by its definition, has no balance and humor loves to trade on the edges of disparate views even when they’re only marginally apart. 

The certainty that extreme groups hold their views, precludes any consideration to see others’ points of view that may soften their resolve, let alone make jokes or light of matters.

Social media reflects this malicious malaise where, even the most innocent comment, will incur the wrath of someone with nothing better to do rather than see the lighter side of life. If someone said the sun was shining, there would be another to dispute the fact even as they bathed in its rays!

Maybe we should bring back the court jester. Henry Vlll enjoyed his even in his later miserable days of ill health. Mind you, a court jester was not typically a buffoon making a fool of himself merely to entertain. King Henry’s  was a close friend and adviser, keeping up on current affairs and observing the opinions of the populace. The King would amend his demeanor depending on the feedback.

So, freedom of speech is under attack, fearing the backlash of offense. There are limitations to the protection of free speech; incitement, defamation, fraud, obscenity, child pornography, fighting words and threats but making fun isn’t one of them.

As a reasonable man who’s seen much, from playing in the post-war rubble of London to flying around in corporate jets, I like to think I’m sensitive to others’ concerns and sensibilities and over the years I’ve found that laughter can make a subject more acceptable and more easily discussed and even more memorable. Anybody who listens to a speech laced with humor will remember the contents more readily than one delivered as dry facts.

A sense of humor and laughter eases tension. They make life a lot more tolerable and make people more tolerant.

That would be a good thing right now. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 July 2022 14:28