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I have always been fascinated by the fact that humans manage to find humor in almost any event in life. However serious a situation may be, it is a human trait that somebody somewhere will find something funny about it. Obviously it is considered poor taste to laugh at something tragic that has recently happened, and this has caused controversy over the years. However, given time, we are nearly all able to move on and laugh about events in the past.
Wars are a great example. There is not much more sad and frightening than going to war, yet so much humor seems to have been drawn from looking back and seeing the situation from a different perspective. Understandably much of this comes from mocking the enemy, which is always good for morale. Think about hugely popular TV shows MASH (US), Blackadder and Dad’s Army (both UK). These shows all gave a hilarious account of the daily lives of the soldiers fighting in different wars, and often the comedy centred on sending up the whole concept of the battle they were fighting. There were poignant moments too, for example, the final scene of Blackadder in which the main characters leave the trenches to charge towards the enemy and certain death. Shakespeare’s plays are often grouped into comedies and tragedies. It seems that many modern-day comedies have tragedy running through their core.
It is not just sadness that we humans like to laugh off; seriousness is another of our favorite targets. People who take themselves too seriously are so often the central characters in the comedies that we enjoy. Dr. Frasier Crane, Ross from Friends, Dwight from the Office (Gareth in the UK version), these are all people who pride themselves as being superior to others and are a little pretentious (although still very likable). We love to see someone serious being brought down to earth with a gentle mocking; it’s the same in real life.
Another group of serious targets are our beloved politicians. The people who control the world will not, and should not, be out of the line of fire when it comes to humor. Satire is as old as politics and it’s amazing that it is always so easy to find the humor in something so serious.
With the seriousness taken care of, there is one last group of people who we just love to laugh at; the idiots. Being let into the lives of people more stupid than ourselves enables us to feel superior for a while. We enjoy watching the fool tackle their obstacles, it has been the same throughout history, with clowns and court jesters being around long before Homer Simpson was ever conceived. The list of fools is too long to mention but Cosmo Kramer, Phoebe from Friends, Peter Griffin, Daphne from Frasier, Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey all jump out as legends who dumb it down for the camera. As an actor it actually takes real skill to act that stupid so we salute you all, thanks for the laughs.
Everything considered it is clear that real life is often stranger than fiction, which is why we love to laugh at the lives of others. There will always be humorous pictures and stories in the news, funny quotes about life, real anecdotes we hear and stories we tell that will amuse and entertain us. We are only human after all.