“Humor; it is a difficult concept.” Kirstie Alley as Lt. Saavik in The Wrath of Kahn
“Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25
I’ve been listening to a comedy channel on Pandora for a while now. Carlos Mencia has become a new favorite of mine (along with Gabriel Iglesias/Fluffy). He does not shy away from “colorful language.” He’s not Christian that I can tell. He does make a lot of sense though. His humor is largely based ethnic humor. He doesn’t do it for the sake of being mean or for shock. He does it as a way to celebrate differences among friends.
He makes the point that you can’t tell ethnic jokes in, say, Sweden. It isn’t a matter of them being offended. They just won’t get them! Sweden, along with most all countries in the world, have one, homogeneous culture. There are not a variety of cultures like we have here in the states.
Friends crack on each other over each other’s’ quirks. It’s how we show friendship. It’s a way of acknowledging and celebrating differences. If we were to stop teasing a friend on something, they’d wonder what they did to upset us.
Why can’t we do that in America? Why can’t we crack on each other over our differences and have a laugh over them? Who told us we had to be offended so easily? Who told us that we had to assume the worst when someone tells a joke? Wouldn’t life be much easier, wouldn’t there be more peace if we stopped finding offense so easily, if we didn’t have to fear having a sense of humor?
Go back to my article, “Make ‘em Laugh” on May 28 – https://jeffreyhking.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/make-em-laugh/
Let me tell you why ethnic humor is NOT about putdowns and hate. It’s simply a subset of humor contained within a much larger category. From last May:
Humor is “Something Living Encrusted With Something mechanical – like when a sentient human being trips over something like a machine would.”
The humor in a trip is NOT about demeaning a person. It’s about something happening that very surprisingly does not follow. When a living individual does not see the crack in the sidewalk and trips over it, he’s acting like a machine, and we find that funny.
As Carlos said while teasing a friend for tripping, “Dude! Even the guy in the wheelchair went AROUND the crack!”
When I did my imitation of AJ. I wasn’t demeaning him; I was telling him he’s OK, still my friend. You’ll have to go back to “Make ‘em Laugh” for that story.
So how do we deal with racism? We DON”T! We don’t treat anyone as special or beyond a ribbing. We treat them like adults and friends have fun laughing over our own foibles!
That, of course, entails ALL of us acting like adults, and be good sports about a ribbing.
The jokes aren’t really about race, anyway. They’re about a mental “trip” over some fact or another. Can you imagine an Indian trying to rob a bank with that sing-song accent? No one’s going to take him seriously as a bank robber, right? Can you hear the conversation in the get-away car?
“Vair is de money?”
“Dey vouldn’t give it to me.”
“Did you show dem da gun?”
“I showed dem da gun!”
“And vat’s vid de computer?”
“Dey gave it to me, because dey dought I was from IT Support!”
It’s better to hear Mencia do it, but you get the picture. The joke is based on a mental “trip” over the incongruity of a mild-mannered Indian guy trying to act tough like a hardened criminal. No one is demeaning Indians. It’s just part of the setup for the joke.
We will have conquered racism when we can joke with our fellow Americans about their differences and take the jokes like an adult when someone jokes about us.
In other words, deal with racism by ignoring it. Be big enough to share a laugh with people.