About five years ago, I lost a teaching job at a college for telling golf course jokes. And they weren’t concerned about my golf game, if you know what I mean. I didn’t mind because I believe a sense of humor is the most valuable thing we have.
I believe our sense of humor lets us be foolish enough to keep on trying when we are making mistakes. When I am really in trouble, I know my sense of humor is what saves me.
When I studied acting, I was interested to learn that humor was the core belief or belief system that causes a character to thrive or fail. It is our sense of irony (sometimes defined as getting in the short line at the super market and watching someone in the long line finish before you do) that helps us survive, especially when you are in big trouble. Most of us agree that life is unfair, but really the question should be is the unfairness of life funny or interesting in some other way.
My parents are in their eighties now, and if anything has changed for them it is that now they really appreciate a good joke. And they aren’t Puritans about what they think is funny.
Most of the experts agree that the worst thing you can do is take yourself too seriously. In anything. I don’t trust a speaker who can’t make fun of himself. Also, if a sense of humor is too sophisticated, I believe it shows a certain want of feeling. Dry wit doesn’t hold a candle to slapstick.
Mark Twain said that humor was born of sorrow, but I know he was funny when things were going well too. When accepting his Nobel Prize, Bernard Shaw quipped that he “didn’t agree with anything.” When I learned that, it added years to my disagreeable nature.
I was taught that the apostle Paul said that the things that are folly in our eyes are the things the Lord takes most seriously. I’ve heard that we should not suffer fools; you can’t be a fool for hate but you can for love.
Tom Robbins, my favorite novelist, has said that it is our sense of humor that makes us different from the animals. I don’t know if it is true, but I’m pretty sure I saw a chipmunk laughing its head off the other day.
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