Friday, October 2, 2009

Why Laughter Matters

Why'd the turtle cross the road?

So he could tortoise how.

"We called him "tortoise" because he taught us. . . ."

And, scene . . . .

* * * * * * * * * * *

In a recent discussion on Facebook. a friend of mine commented on my disappointment with digital TV:

"Sorry dude, it's still a whole lot of channels of nothing to watch."

Now, my anti-TV cred is pretty high.

From November of 9th Grade through November of sophomore year of college, the only TV I watched was selected old movies, Washington Redskins football games, Alfred Hitchcock Presents repeats, and Lily Tomlin specials.

The latter were noteworthy for a couple reasons:

1) They were the only NEW TV I was watching during that time period, and

2) They were produced by Lorne Michaels, who also produces the show that made me a TV watcher again for once and for all, Saturday Night Live.

3) Then I started reading Tom Shales, and the rest is history . . .

In the meantime, I defy you not to laugh at these men dressed as women:

Whaddaya know! Another Lorne Michaels production.

Laughter = Joy, and Joy is that force you feel when for some ineffable reason--and a few effable ones, lemme tell ya--you just plain feel GREAT to be alive, "For the good and the love and the thing and the do," as Martin Short channeling Jerry Lewis might put it.

'Cause it's GREAT to be alive!

Where there's joy, there's laughter.

And you know that can't be bad.


  1. Laughter brings you to the other side of the rabbit hole. You still need to go through the rabbit hole, but it helps you get there. If you can't laugh, there's little to no reason to be innovative and make new things happen because you're sure you won't derive much pleasure from the surprise of the unknown.

    Good post!

  2. Well, I had no TV from '75-around '93. So I missed alot of that scene the first time around. I get it, but the context is changed.
    Anyway, joy, feeling great to be alive, gets me thinking of walking on a brisk day such as this. Walking frees the mind, and lets the joy in.
    During the time without TV I read Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. The story The Angels says a lot about what I know of joy.
    The digital TV comment- I only meant that the ratio of crap to what you want to watch increases with the number of channels. You know...

  3. Oh yeah- read Kundera at the North Desk, Main Library (maybe where I met you- that was a good day too). A lot of important things happened at that library...

  4. JR & Beth, Thanks for reading.

    Back in high school, laughing was such a big deal to me I invented the "Riot Contest."

    Essentially, anyone who had a knack for making me laugh ranked.

    My grandmother was Number 1, until she passed away in 1983.

    We would get in arguments over Nixon; I'd manage to turn her own words against her, 'cause she really wasn't a very good debater. She'd get mad and chase me away.

    Then I'd come back and kiss and hug her. She'd still be mad, but would soon relent and say, "You know, you're the only one I can really talk to."

    I just loved her. I loved to exult to her, "You're #1! #1 in the Riot Contest! And you know, Gram: It's not really a contest."

    Most of the other habitues of the Riot Contest were high school associates or teachers.

    The Current #1 is my good friend, Miguel.

    Soon after he was named the reigning Number 1, I told him, "You know, Miguel, once you're named the Number 1 Riot, you pretty much hold the position for life."

    Then I reserved the right to elevate some bright young talent over him, and his sarcastic takes on a now uncertain reign as leading funnyman are a regular source of amusement for us both.