“Any idiot can cope with a crisis, it’s this day to day living that wears you out”
That quote from Chekhov always makes a lot of sense on a quiet Sunday night (funnily enough the time I am writing this). The thought of another week can do strange things to you and the perfect antidote I have found in recent times is comedy. It interested me to see a University of Maryland report which stated that watching comedy films is good for the heart because it boosts the flow of blood. Further inspection also led me to see the link between those in the comedy business and depression. Stephen Fry’s struggles with manic depression have been well documented in recent years and you wonder if the creative outlet to entertain people is a vital lifeline for those who perform and are prone to depression.
In simple terms, how many occasions have you been simply cheered up just by a joke or any comic event? I have personally found humour at so many turns to have transformed a situation or dark hour. It lightens the tension or helps you put events in perspective. I am particularly drawn to the dark types of Doug Stanhope who is skilled enough to highlight the inadequacies and inhumane aspects of this world in a way that a powerful message can be delivered via satire. I would recommend a YouTube clip, ”Doug Stanhope on suicide”. He continues that fine line of American comedians, such as Lenny Bruce or Bill Hicks, who speak out against the monotony of daily life. The very system that enslaves us, yet we still cling to. His comment “life is like animal porn, it’s not for everyone” still makes me chuckle now. Through humour comes change and I like it. Even the thought of your favourite TV show in the evening providing laughs is often the greatest tonic of them all.
Comedy is more than just an art form. It’s the ability to detach yourself from the world and laugh at either your own limitations in a healthy way or even expose the world for all its failings. Maybe it is just a British thing, but we do like our comic stars to be flawed or at least world weary. Basil Fawlty became the ultimate fall guy, we empathised at his frustrations and also laughed at his inability to rationalise this in day to day living. He’s a great guy but we don’t want to be him.
The brilliant Peep Show in recent times has also given us the Mark and Jeremy characters so well played by David Mitchell and Robert Webb. We all know people like them in real life and despite its full on nature, it is a show that is scarily true to the “real world”. Both guys display certain traits prevalent in men whether it is the nagging self-doubt and angst of Mark, the inability to articulate feelings or the the shallow self-centredness of Jeremy coupled with his pure ego.
Humour is one of the greatest gifts this world has been blessed with. It should be mandatory to laugh at least 100 times a day. With it comes a warning, don’t take yourselves too seriously or end up becoming the people you laugh at all the time on the television. I hear all the time that people look for a good sense of humour when it comes to a partner. It’s also something all of us should have for getting through life in general. Laughter opens up so many doors and taboos for all us, may it continue to do so and inspire us all to a better life.