This week, someone asked me, “How can you joke when the news is so horrible?” I said, “I joke BECAUSE the news is so horrible.”
Bad news is everywhere. You can’t get away from it. I go onto Facebook to look at pictures with my friends making duck lips at each other, and I even get news there. I remember when the newsfeed was just people posting pictures of dinner, vacations and new babies or puppies. Now, I get an actual newsfeed.
I was a pretty serious kid. I know. I can hardly imagine it myself, but I was. When I was a kid, I remember going to my first family funeral. The first funeral I remember. My aunt Eleanor died when I was pretty young. At the funeral parlor, people were joking and laughing. I got so angry. I couldn’t figure out why they were telling funny stories while I was grieving. My nana said, “Laughter is how we cope. We remember people from the stories that fill us with joy and happiness.” I’m paraphrasing. I was 11 and don’t remember the exact words, but I caught the gist.
I don’t think it’s the exact moment the light bulb went off and I became funny, but I learned that laughter was one of our greatest tools. A few years ago, I had to write a preface for my book, “Below Average Genius.” The publisher wanted something from me that explained to the readers who I was. It became my mantra:
I believe in laughter.
In our daily lives, we are bombarded by negative thoughts and negative people. Around the water cooler, we discuss war, gas prices and politics. The media is replete with grim images and tales of tragedy from around the world. We are fed a constant diet of death and destruction. Push it away. I say no more for me. There are leaner, lighter meals. I have chosen to embrace comedy.
I believe in laughter, from the giggle to the guffaw.
I believe in telling a 2-year-old a knock-knock joke. A small girl covers her mouth when she smiles. A young boy holds his stomach and howls. I am renewed, revitalized and ready for anything.
Laughter is not only the best medicine, it is a necessity of life, the essence of joy, the true window into our soul. When other people search their lives for meaning, I have discovered that comedy is the universal truth. It is present in even the most dour soul. Everyone wants to laugh, the saints and the sinners, the faithful and the skeptics, the Democrats and Republicans, the good, the bad and the ugly. Especially the ugly. What else have they got?
I love a dirty limerick. A skewered song. A ribald riddle.
I believe in the Sunday comics. I kneel before the gods of standup. I still have faith in the sitcom. I believe in the joke, the pratfall, the silly face.
Through laughter we can find the light.
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Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here!