Frances Bacon's quote is apt:

"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is."

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Wonderful essay.

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When I lived in Eastern Europe in the 1980s jokes were widespread, and I was particularly fascinated by "police jokes" that ridiculed them as idiots. In many jokes Gypsies were the wise fools, who pierced the propaganda with simple questions or observations.

Q. Why does the police car have a stripe running all along its side?

A. So the officers can find the door handle.

Q. Why are the officers still unable to find the door handle?

A. Because the stripe runs all the way around the car.

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This essay also applies to corporate life in the USA, where humour is usually very hierarchical - only the most important people in the room are permitted to (try to) be funny. Which they usually ain’t, but the sycophants laugh anyway.

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Deep as ever. So sad we need such an article, how deep have we sunk.

It becomes harder to find the simple joke, as irony, satire, sarcasm feel ever more necessary as means of defence. I recently discovered the category of "father jokes" on youtube: warmhearted, silly, intelligent wordplay, innocent as a Rockwell painting.

One of my character tests: Can someone make fun of himself to entertain the group?

At New Year´s Eve, we played: "Tell the most embarrassing thing you did in your life!" and had lots of fun. We all had way more than one story to share ...

A great new year to polymath N.S. Lyons and all the audience!

Two pilots meet. 130 dead ...

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I definitely agree that toleration of humor sometimes can be a good measure of societal health, however I don't think this is because humor is inherently good, or something that necessarily unveils truth.

An example is when Christ is mocked by the roman soldiers. Their mockery is borne out of pride and the laughter not the result of truth telling. The humility of Our Lord is the real measure of health here.

CS Lewis talks about the subject of humor in Screwtape letters, in it he categorizes it into four categories: fun, joy, telling jokes, flippancy. Fun and joy are, according to him, pretty much always good. Telling jokes can be good, but there are mean spirited jokes which can still be funny. Finally flippancy is a very shallow and damaging type of humor; depriving that which merits seriousness of it's proper place.

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A stirring piece. Thankyou.

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You wrote "..that humor, and the appreciation, vibrancy, and toleration of its expression, is perhaps the surest indicator of a healthy society and civilization. And, whatever time or place you’re living in the world, the suppression of the jokesters is necessarily a sure sign that something has gone terribly wrong..."

I am wondering if there are any "humor" in daily living and the overall society of China? With the ruler class being so serious and strict -- can people still joke/make fun of things? And if there are jokes/fun/humor in China - what kind of subjects are permissible so you don't land in jail, simply for jesting? or for laughing?

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Jan 12, 2022·edited Jan 12, 2022

How would you square your observations with Katherine's?


Is DFW's call for less irony and more sincerity now outdated?


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“the demagogue himself is almost incapable of humor of any sort, and if we treat him with humor, he will begin to collapse.”

Hence why Donald Trump - who could be funny about other people - couldn’t take a joke directed at him.

“ “Laughter is a human thing, a virtue belonging only to humanity and God, that perhaps God gave to humans as consolation for having made them intelligent.” – Marcel Pagnol”

Some argue that Shakespeare’s comedies are more profound and deeper than his tragedies. I’m not sure where I fall on that question, but I do know that good humor (as opposed to common sarcasm) can be quite profound and insightful, and that laughter is one of the things that makes us human.

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Thank you for an explication of the justification of why I recently started doing stand-up at 35, that I intuitively knew but couldn't express.

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I take my humor seriously. Great article that provides and proves the power of laughter. Thank you!

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The ability to laugh at oneself is a mark of personal emotional balance as well, especially for men, as I have been noting for years https://assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com/search?q=laugh (The top one may be best)

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Great essay. I'm a Zimbabwean artist who started making satirical newspaper headlines a couple of years ago to highlight the rising absurdity and systematic lying in popular media. Essays like this are great to explain the thinking behind that series. www.instagram.com/ckombo

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I love this essay and plan on sharing it on my wee blog. I agree with it, am a huge fan of laughter as healing and an antidote to tyranny, but still question if it’s not also ‘built into the system’. The court jesters had an important role to diffuse hostilities at court, and that is still the case with the best of comedians, like George Carlin. But, aside from being a salve for the common man against his oppressors, in diffusing the righteous indignation of the peasantry, is he not then actually in service to the crown, or the tyrant?

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I read this a while ago: but I am glad of the prod to read it again! It reminded me again of what came to mind when I first read it, a strange fact that I have thought about quite a lot over the years: in the Gospels, Christ never laughs.

I wonder why?

Especially in light of Belloc's lines:

"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,

There’s always laughter and good red wine.

At least I’ve always found it so.

Benedicamus Domino!"

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