Tag Archives: Humor

Two kinds of laughter

I grew up laughing. We didn’t have a TV, and comedy was an unknown genre to me. Laughing at my mother, my father, my sisters and brothers, and at myself. Sometimes laughing at God. Everything beloved is also funny.


I went off to school and everybody in the packs in the Freshman dorms would laugh and I didn’t get it. Even when I learned enough to realize the (biological) reference, it still didn’t seem particularly funny. A ‘significant other’ cheating, another vague reference to a vague euphemism of human reproduction. A little obsessive. I learned a good deal of biology from hearing several hundred different ‘jokes’ through four years of college. But why was it funny? Awkward, yes, painful yes… but funny?


Yes, back home, there is laughter for pain and awkwardness–but that is only because dearness is in it too. The absurdity and belovedness, individual quirks and stupidities. You grimace and the infant squeals with laughter. A grimacing cartoon goblin is not funny, because it isn’t belovedly stupid the way your siblings are. Pain, love, absurdity intermixed–that is funny, but it is because of the belovedness (a prime example of that is the film Fiddler on the Roof.). People who laugh at themselves, know their own belovedness. That is why they can laugh.


Then there is Freshman College Humor upgraded…the more sophisticated kind as one moves into one’s twenties. Vaguely putting other groups of people down. A jocular sneer. O, we are so sophisticated, O, they are so ridiculous.  It is about sophisticated superiority. Now we don’t laugh, we kind of chuckle and glance down, our bemused faces at the ‘ridiculousness’ of others…… the monotonous dullness of it all!!


Ethnic jokes were funny in an age when men were proud of their blood. We are too sophisticated for that now. So it’s ‘offensive’. People don’t love themselves enough anymore. So they forget what laughter is. Mockery is hillarious when you love the thing you are poking at. It’s just cold sneering when you don’t love. But if you don’t know, you have no idea.


and the television comedians must have something to laugh about, but belovedness fades away, and so all that is left is awkwardness and shock value and sneering….


And so the stereotype…that odd idea that all those puritan children  of yore and denim-skirted or head-covered girls of faith must be dull, humorless people….because they don’t laugh in the public sphere. There’s another place, far away from Media, in the kitchen with the dishrag, we laugh till the tears come into our eyes. God is laughing, and the children grin.