As the old adage goes laughter is the best medicine. Even modern science is backing the cliché, telling us about the endorphins you release, the cortisol and epinephrine you reduce, and if you are laughing in HD with surround sound, it can even serve as a natural anaesthetic.
Laughter has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. Through all the pain, a good laugh got me through. Like when I lost my mother in 2011, I hit the comedy clubs hard.
When tensions run high, I find breathing space in a little giggle, it assures me that I am not consumed by the darkness. If music is the elixir to the soul, then comedy is the soul’s healing massage.
I don’t understand people who do not want to laugh. I wonder if people less willing to laugh at themselves, are insecure in their truth. Perhaps they are even addicted to all that cortisol and epinephrine in their system? They are on standby for a fight, because jokes work their nerves like guitar strings.
You will ask them why the chicken crossed the road and their first response would be why you have to ask them about the chicken and in any case there are many other animals out there crossing the road all the time, why don’t you ask about those?
Trust me, it leaves me as confused as you are. Like, dude, it’s just a joke.
Comedy in my world takes two shapes. It can be like those carnival fun house mirrors that distort your body and you pack up laughing at how ridiculous you look. The catch is that in between those mirrors are proper mirrors that reflect your true image. And when your modus operandi in the world and your thinking are reflected and you don’t like what you see, you act out.
When comedy does that to people I know it’s hit a nerve. There is also the anaesthetic function of comedy. It takes the sting out of bitter truths. It assures you, you are in a safe space to face that demon and laugh at it without being hurt. If ever there was a time for South Africa to have a sense of humour, it is now. It feels like everybody is angry about something, collectively. From issues around gender to race and religion, it feels as though everyone has a gun cocked. Comedy comes in for a hug, and these people punch it in the throat.
I hope our ailing South Africa embraces comedy. It is an opportunity to heal and reflect in a safe place. Not to say we must dissect all jokes because jokes, like frogs die when you dissect them.