This is a longer read. It’s more from the introduction to The Book of Wrong Answers.
Victor Borge once quipped that laughter is the shortest between two people.
Imagine someone in a restaurant, a waiter for example.
This for me is easy. I spent a lot of time waiting tables.
Imagine this waiter - we’ll call him Jimmie for convenience sake -
Imagine Jimmie at a table.
He’s there, opening a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.
Professionally charming, Jimmy delivers the goods with style and grace.
Only to turn around to reveal four feet of toilette paper streaming from the back of his pants.
The couple being served?
They first noticed the giggles of the surrounding tables, then the paper, then Jimmy whose actions went thusly:
Freeze. Huge eyes. Observable sinking of the trunk of the body. Confused turning of the head. A furrowed brow. A hand catching and noticing something that doesn’t belong.
Skin becoming increasingly flushed.
Jimmy pulls the offending tail from his backside and joins in the crowd.
He made a mistake. He got toilet paper stuck in his pants. Everyone around him?
They loved it.
They all laughed together.
Ordinary fools get humiliated in such circumstances.
Ordinary fools find things like this to be violent, shaming, triggering and to be avoided at all costs.
These folks kinda miss the point.
The point in being alive.
These folks seem to believe that they are entitled to be taken seriously. They strive to be beyond reproach.
They operate from a stance where the seriousness of existence is not a given thing.
We humans, this existence we experience?
It’s fundamentally absurd.
Look at how we got here.
The people who make babies are absurd.
Some have innies.
Some have outies.
You put an outie in an innie and have it spit.
Things are fun for a moment, nauseating for a while, painful for a slog then horrific and ripped apart.
You’re supposed to fall in love with a sociopath that shits up its back and pukes all over you and the trendy sofa you splurged on when you first moved in together.
And people keep doing it!
People are at a very base level, batshit crazy.
We are groomed by school not to make mistakes.
Which is funny given that most of the decisions we make are made with incomplete data.
And, we only gain mastery through repetition and making mistakes.
When I laugh at some yo yo who is doing the same ding bat move time and time again?
It’s a way of saying I see you.
What’s more, laughing at someone mid meltdown, screwing up or getting something wrong?
That is my way of saying that the incompetent, fucked up, imperfect, idiotic, unreasonable, irrational and incomplete part of me recognizes and delights in the fact that I’m not alone.
Does it hurt the person being laughed at?
It depends on their ability to laugh at themselves.
This depends largely how seriously they take this whole existence thing.
Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious. —Brendan Gill
I hear you now:
You’re a therapist and you believe that life is just one big joke? What about all the suffering?
My reply: Yup and yup. It’s absurd that people are suffering. It’s absurd that we even exist at all. And for what? And this consciousness? What’s it for?
The Big Bang was the first joke.
Levity is the prime mover.
The serious and the grave have taken over.
Likely because the playful and the light were too busy having fun to write enough books.
Either way, they wouldn’t be taken seriously.
Nor should they.
What on earth ever made you think that life is serious?
Let’s start by blaming people.
I pick Thomas Hobbes.
He’s a prick.
He believed that humans are essentially selfish, awful evil creatures that need to be protected from each other with strong laws. Though he was into absolute monarchy, this essentially nasty point of view seems to be aligned with people from the extremities of both the right and left of the political world.
His counterpoint in my philosophical education? Rousseau. He figured we were noble savages. Humans to Rousseau, were essentially good. The unsightly aspects of humanity? That’s just us being corrupted by society. What’s this ‘society’ anyway? Rousseau’s a chicken and the egg kind of dude. What came first, corruption or people?
Me? I figure both of them can go pound sand. People are neither good nor evil. This Zoroastrian style dualism is tedious.
Directed by the tyranny of the serious, the gestapo of gravity enforce a paradigm of polarization. Oh how this emboldens the martyrs in their zealotry. Glah!
Run away run away run away!
People are flawed. Screw-ups. Foolish.
A remarkable fool can live with this. A remarkable fool can under-estimate a fart with catastrophic consequences and still find a way to show up with a smile.
Laughing at our mistakes and allowing others to laugh at us - not with us, but at us - we can all experience relief and express our distaste for the tyranny of seriousness plaguing the experience of so many.
Could someone please remind me to write about the physiological connections between laughter and resilience? That’s what ties the whole darn thing together.
That’s enough for now.
Except for this:
One Derful Thing
Lakes without a jet ski
Imagine you are bald
Imagine you have really cool glasses
Imagine you are a canoe.
A bald canoe with really cool glasses, paddled by a canoeing instructor from Buffalo New York.
Imagine how you would move.
Glide into rooms.
Move like a canoe.
Get assaulted by imaginary jet-skis.
And throw yourself onto the ground / floor.
See if you can convince people to join you.
Begin your next meeting by entering as a group and playing ‘Tippy Canoe’.