I don’t know how it happened, but I missed International Laughter Day. I hear it was a real hoot this year. Even al Qaeda got in the act with their standing-room-only Osama Roast. I hear al-Zarqawi took a lot of ribbing for his skills with automatic weapons. Good times.
Laughter has been around for a long, long time, according to university-trained humorologists. The first historical record of laughter was found in a cave painting in Lyon, France. There are 3 panels. In the first, a cave man brandishing a club is quietly approaching a woolly mammoth from behind. There’s a cartoon balloon over his head—he’s thinking barbecue.
In the second panel, the caveman has stepped in something that looks suspiciously like woolly mammoth dung. He’s up to his knees in the stuff.
In the last panel, a group of his cave men buddies are doubled over, holding their stomachs and pointing at him. They’re laughing like hyenas.
Which, as even the untrained lay person can see, is clear evidence that humor hasn’t changed much over the years.
Sigmund Freud believed laughter originated in an infant’s romantic attachment to his mother, and his Oedipal desire to murder his father. We don’t hear many stories of Siggy regaling his colleagues with hilarious one-liners at Psychological Society meetings. If your parents name you Sigmund, an obsession with murder might be understandable.
More recent research suggests that humor relieves stress. We laugh to diffuse tense situations.
I’ve done that myself. I remember once when I was being raked over the coals by my boss for something stupid. So he asks me what I have to say for myself. It was a perfect opening, so I told him the one about the priest, the rabbi and the parrot. That joke always cracks me up. ROFL! But some people don’t have a sense of humor. When I got to the punch line, the old geezer just sat, trembling, lips tight, his beady eyes ready to pop.
He fired me the next day, the ingrate. But I learned a valuable lesson—I just haven’t figured out what it is yet.
Lots of people have wondered if Jesus had a sense of humor. Several small books have been written on the subject. Well I say, the guy picked Peter as one of the 12, didn’t he? It’s pretty clear from the Gospels that Peter is only there for comic relief.
Like, Jesus is slip-sliding along on the Sea of Galilee late one night because the lake has frozen over again. The disciples are stuck in their boat, waiting for the Coast Guard ice breaker. Jesus greets them with “Hey, guys, look at me! I’m walking on water.” They all chuckle, of course, but Peter doesn’t get the joke, as usual. He jumps out of the boat, breaks through the ice and sinks like a stone! You know the disciples must’ve split a gut over that one.
Every group needs a Peter. When I was in high school, it was Karen. She once asked me how to put air in the tires of her VW Beetle. I told her about a full-service gas station that would do it for her. But I warned her to make sure the attendant used regular air, not racing air. If he filled her VW tires with racing air, the car would take off at high speeds and might burn up the engine.
I wish I could have been there to witness the humiliation. When she saw me a few days later, she hit me. Hard. It was worth it.
The newly discovered Gospel of Judas answers the question of Jesus’ sense of humor once and for all. Unlike the four traditional gospels, Judas retained the secret stage cues that had been hidden by the early church.
For instance, Matthew 5:28: “Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Pretty strong stuff, until you read the Gospel of Judas, which adds: “[Rimshot].”
Changes the whole thing, doesn’t it? Apparently Jesus did the old wink-wink thing a lot, too. And according to Dan Brown, there’s a whoopee cushion on Peter’s seat in the Last Supper. Those guys must’ve been a riot.
So, even if you missed National Laughter Day, it isn’t too late to tell a good joke and have a few laughs around the water cooler. Here’s one to get you started:
This blogger goes into a library and says, “Can I have a burger and fries?”
The librarian replies, “Young man, this is a library!”
So the blogger whispers, “Sorry. Can I have a burger and fries?”