Opinion: Thank God for laughter in dark times
September 9, 2020
Last time, as a great escape from the troubles of our times, I started out writing a funny column about comedy, but it turned out to be about comics instead.
This time, I'm just going to make you laugh. In googling around the internet in search of jokes (with a Rolling Stone magazine article from 2017 listing “The 50 best stand-up comics of all time” by Matthew Love as my cheat-sheet), I've gathered up several one-liners with no political or cultural agenda in mind, except to keep it cleaner than some adults might be used to.
I'm hearing reports of an increase in depression in this virus-infected, mean-spirited world we now occupy, so let's try some laugh therapy. At the very least, you can relate to Wanda Sykes, when she quipped: “I'm here today because I hated everything else.”
Or maybe you just need something light before bedtime. “Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight,” said Phyllis Diller, who also had this to say about housework: “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”
Not that her fictional husband, Fang, was of any use: “He hates work. One day he called in dead.”
Then there's Garry Shandling, a sad sack comedian if ever there was one: “When I'm not in a relationship, I shave one leg, so when I sleep, it feels like I'm with a woman.”
Have you laughed yet?
“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose,” Woody Allen once said.
Redd Foxx died at age 68, from a heart attack. Before he departed, he said this: “Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.”
Then there's Rodney Dangerfield, who got no respect:
“I met the surgeon general. He offered me a cigarette.”
“My mother had morning sickness after I was born.”
“With my dog I don't get no respect. He keeps barking at the front door. He don't want to go out. He wants me to leave.”
Don Rickles, a master of the insult, once told Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, “It's so good to see you. I didn't know you were still on.”
Then there's the wit and wisdom of Steve Martin: “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.”
Jerry Seinfeld had his own brand of insights into the absurdities of life: “According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
George Carlin, on the other head, had his own take on life, from simple observations — “Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways?” — to the search for insights: “The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse: You cannot post 'Thou shalt not steal,' 'Thou shalt not commit adultery' and 'Thou shalt not lie' in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment.”
Thank God for laughter. It's the best way I know to keep the worst side of the world from getting the best of you.
Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at: