Laughter – is it always the best medicine?

Insensitive, thoughtless humour is no humour at all
Comedy occupies such a pivotal position in the tradition of art.
Comedy occupies such a pivotal position in the tradition of art. Gomantak Times

Poorwa Naik

Humour and the laughter that follows it have always been so central to human existence. A genre like comedy in theatrical performances and in literary works occupies such a pivotal position in the tradition of art across the globe.

Psychiatrists, psychologists and even physicians will not deny the significance of humour in our lives in order to keep the endorphins and dopamine flowing.

As we grow up, we learn to appreciate the things that make us laugh even amidst the most stressful situations. We all start evolving into adults who can appreciate art for the humour it produces and also for its power to transform us into better human beings.

More often than not “Art for art’s sake” does not really take precedence over “Art for the sake of society” and its betterment.

Comedy cannot be a mockery of a person’s personal freedom.
Comedy cannot be a mockery of a person’s personal freedom.Gomantak Times

That is what makes it imperative for artists to be responsible in what they create, who they create it for (children or adults) and why they primarily create it or what inspired them to do so.

In a world where the technological revolution has swept us off our feet, and every day we encounter newer modes of expression while we keep inventing diverse forms of art, we probably need to assess once again if the art that we are creating essentially has the intent of improving human society.

Comedy as a genre was meant to make us laugh at human foibles. By human foibles, one can generally understand that these are minor weaknesses in a person’s character.

Comedy wants to subtly nudge us and remind us of what needs to change in our characters. Comedy is a serious business! It is not petty, frivolous and irresponsible.

Comedy occupies such a pivotal position in the tradition of art.
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It cannot really pick on a person’s physical limitations like a deformity – that would only make it insensitive and inhuman. It cannot be a mockery of a person’s personal freedom to have a certain kind of attire, practice a particular religion or choose a marital relationship across religious or political boundaries.

These are simply and plainly a person’s choices to lead a fulfilling private life without infringing upon another person’s freedom to do the same.

Comic timing and propriety of the language used in creating humour is paramount to the success of comedy. It needs a befitting context to reveal its truest intent and make the best of its potential to make the receivers of that humour laugh.

Hence, humor requires a very responsible mind that can create it with the right objectives.

Comedy occupies such a pivotal position in the tradition of art.
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Memes have nearly managed to usurp the throne that plain text-based brief jokes occupied for eons in bringing laughter to their readers.

The advent of social media with all the scope of using graphics/images and captions as a combination, made memes one of the most popular sources of humour in last two decades or so.

Social media users are also expected to evolve in terms of their intelligence to decode the exact meaning of these memes. This requires a lot of awareness of the world affairs and events that are contemporaneous and relevant to the memes created.

They have a short shelf-life, too, if they are linked to a particular contemporary event.

Comedy occupies such a pivotal position in the tradition of art.
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But none can deny that memes as a form of creativity and humour-generating devices are here to stay for a long time. The principles of being sensitive, responsible and meaningful, just as comedy has always been, should then apply to these modern-day means of humour too.

Unfortunately, we seem to be falling into the trap of quick likes and laughter reactions on the content we post without realising that we could be mocking a heinous murder or the sanctity of a marital relationship we otherwise boast about upholding at all costs.

Are we Indians not hypocrites if we believe that marriages are forever but create memes and laugh on the separation of a celebrity couple just because an Indian woman married a Pakistani man?

Comedy occupies such a pivotal position in the tradition of art.
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Who are we to decide that she deserves a divorce just because she married beyond her own nationality? How do we use these private details of someone’s life to create humour in our lives? A celebrity’s personal life is still his/her private business.

The murder of a young lady has sparked such a tirade against a specific religion. Memes on the woman’s choices are so demeaning, to say the least.

We all have to grow wiser from relationship to relationship, but we are not immune to making errors in judging another person’s character.

Tolerating abuse is no wisdom at all.

Comedy occupies such a pivotal position in the tradition of art.
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However, that in no way is a justification to say that we as women cannot make rational choices and decisions for ourselves if our parents are not on the same page as us in all aspects of our life – it sounds very archaic and patriarchal.

No two people can ever agree on every decision – be it spouses or parents. Human errors in judgment that lead to their death do not give us a blanket license to mock the freedom of a woman to make her life’s choices.

We need to make memes to criticise the bestiality of the perpetrator of the said crime and not the victim herself or the religion that either of the two belonged to.

Then may be the lost essence of humanity and humour will both be found together someday soon.

(The writer is assistant professor of English, SGSLL, Goa University) 

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