Why We Need Humour In 2016

Simon Wiesenthal

(Credit: wiesenthal.com)

Simon Wiesenthal, who survived the Holocaust, spent much of the rest of his long life (he died, aged 96, in 2005) bringing the perpetrators to account. He once said: ‘Humour is the weapon of unarmed people: it helps people who are oppressed to smile at the situation that pains them’.

This highlights one of the prime reasons for an escape into humour; it often helps us better deal with that which pains us. Personally, you can see this in the quiet pockets of relieving laughter during so many funerals. This salve might only be temporary, but it is no less vital for that. In the world as we find it in 2016, there are many dark corners. Humour is part of the resilience often shown by the ‘unarmed’ human race. This courageous quality is perhaps nowhere better illustrated than in both Paris and Nice. After the atrocities, and often as early as the following day, people went back to the cafes and promenade, often saying that not to live their lives out there would be a sign of defeat.

It’s true that people have different coping mechanisms. But for so many, humour, perhaps even slightly darker than normal, helps them to revive their souls. In fact, legendary US comedian Bob Newhart said it clearly: ‘The only way to survive is to have a sense of humour’. It’s also noticeable how so many divisive people seem to find it impossible to take a joke. President Erdogan in Turkey, long before the attempted coup, showed this, as has Mr Putin – and Donald Trump’s skin seems to be gossamer thin. Brave people try up close; the rest of us might enjoy barbs sent from a much greater distance! Irony, even absurdity, is often used here, and there’s more about that in our recent blog post ‘What is Deadpan Comedy?

Melania Trump Mural

Sometimes, humour is the best response (Credit: abc.net.au)

Roger Moore reckons, probably with one eyebrow raised, that “If you don’t have humour, then you may as well nail the coffin lid down now.” That’s what many would want us to do – to hide away, to give up, to let them win. Laughing in the face of danger, even from what we hope is a safe distance, lifts our spirits and brings a little light to the sombre darkness we often witness. Humour may not be a cure you’d find written on a prescription, but it’s so often part of a successful treatment. That’s why we so need to treasure our ability to use and enjoy it as 2016 matures. What do you think?