While the Covid crisis has taken many things, it has not taken my sense of humour – and I trust that it has not taken yours. Now more than ever, we need the tonic of laughter in our lives.
There are those who would seek to divide us, to have us live in fear and feel disconnected from one another. I know many of us can feel frustration at the widening chasm between ourselves and others, fuelled by misinformation and miscommunication.
And yet, despite all the division, we can come together so fast. Laughter makes this possible. Like music, it can unite us in a shared experience and remind us that we have more in common than we may realise.
I know that humour is highly subjective, but I would love to hear from you about what makes you laugh. Do you have a favourite joke or comedian, have you seen a show recently that gave you bellyache? Please do share in the comments below, so everyone can benefit.
It never ceases to amaze me that it is our toughest experiences that we often look back on with the most fondness and humour. To me, this quirky unpredictability is part of what makes life so beautiful. Even now – perhaps especially now – on a day-to-day basis I find many things funny, and I’m always grateful for some light relief.
When all else fails, we always have our own life experience to turn to. When there is nothing apparently funny, I am usually able to laugh at myself. It doesn’t take much: a trip down memory lane, recalling an experience that might have been scary at the time but is funny in hindsight. Or, reflecting on the things one had been so sure of, so adamant about in the past, only to discover that one could not have been more wrong.
One of the most joyful memories I have is being tickled by my grandmother with anything from her hard old nails, to her knitting needle or crochet hook. Mostly mesmerising, it was impossible to endure without at the very least, a broad grin.
I realise this all may sound frivolous, but I would argue that humour is a seriously powerful weapon. Indeed, I see it as part of a three-step strategy for bringing down authoritarian regimes:
Step 1. Tell the truth
The truth cuts through the fug of government gaslighting like nothing else. And, let’s face it, the truth can also be painfully funny…
All credit to the genius of Bob Moran. The World Council for Health is screening a wonderful new documentary about Bob this Thursday, details below.)
Step 2. Don’t comply
Our biggest misconception is that we always have to do what we are told when really, we do not. Use your discernment here, and don’t let yourself be intimidated – we are more powerful than we realise, especially when we act together.
Step 3. Use humour
Humour can do two wonderful things here: first, it can utterly undermine authoritarianism and empower the people. This recent sketch from JP Sears is just one example – he’s so good at showing up the absurdity of attempts to cover up what is really going on.
Second, it can lift us up and bring us together. We humans have a tendency to take ourselves rather too seriously. We get bogged down, we become isolated, and our smiles can quickly turn into frowns, which isolates us even more. We get so busy doing, we forget about being. Laughter is in our nature. In fact, humans learn to laugh before they learn to speak, as this video demonstrates.
Why is that? Researcher Caspar Addyman has studied what makes babies laugh, and he states that it’s a way for humans to share with other humans. It’s a way to connect. If you’re of the view that there are those who would seek to divide us, then laughter could well be our best defence. With this in mind, perhaps sit down to watch your favourite comedian or comedy show, with at least one other person. Laughter is always wonderful, but it’s even better when shared.
Also, please join me this Thursday for this wonderful documentary about Bob Moran – uplifting, moving, and sure to raise a smile: