Alexandra Coles examines how comedy can be used to improve society as a whole, whilst making the outlook a little bit brighter too.
Over the years, society has turned its metaphorical gaze away from the joyous possibilities of the future and towards the smoking ruins of cities that begin any good apocalypse movie. With this change in vision has come a change in attitude. Turn on the news and you will find constant news reels of the world slowly destroying itself through various means as the financial markets continue to squeeze out what little joy remains.
It’s all a bit depressing, which is why having a sense of humour is even more important now than ever before.
They say laughter is the best medicine. Who ‘they’ are is to be debated another time, but let’s just take their statement and accept that there might be some wisdom in it. Laughter might not solve the financial or political troubles of the world, but it might provide a short reprieve for those of us whose problems are slightly smaller in scale – like how to create dinner from a tin of beans, tomato puree and a pineapple.
Comedy is an integral part of human existence. It can turn a situation and give it a positive spin, whilst at the same time highlighting what should be changed in society. Comedy doesn’t just provide a humorous look at existence, it also comments on the very subject matter it is talking about. Done properly, comedy can be used as a critical lens through which to view the world.
This kind of highlighting is what society needs. Society needs to develop and grow, and to do that its flaws need to be pointed out and then debated endlessly in the YouTube comments section. Maybe not all of these conversations will be informative – most involve people shouting in Caps Lock – but sometimes a little grain of truth appears. Those grains of truth might be small, but they have great importance. Comedy forces people to debate these ideas and question the world around them, instead of mindlessly consuming the information that saturates daily life.
This is why having a sense of humour should be valued more. Everyone likes laughing, everyone likes jokes, whatever their content or nature. Society tries to make everyone focus on the doom and gloom of the world, instead of pointing out what is good in it. Humour, and comedy, provide a metaphorical flashlight in this dark and dreary outlook forced upon us, whilst challenging our perceptions of the world in the process.