March 14: Healing Power of Humor

In the words of my troupe of spiritual directors, Monty Python, “And now, time for something completely different!”  Humor is a wonderful spiritual gift to employ in times of stress.  To laugh at life’s circumstances is to be completely human, and I understand laughter releases many positive biochemicals to counteract the stress chemicals our bodies are most likely churning out.  I knew a cancer patient years ago who added daily laughter to his brutal chemotherapy regimen.  Jokes, funny movies and comedy sketches every day helped him beat imposing odds and survive.  If he can do it, so can we!  So I challenge us to pull up a truly funny movie, pour a drink and belly laugh aplenty today and every day we are under this surreal Lenten journey.  COVID-19 deserves our derision!  This is comfort food for our souls I’m talkin’!

How do you roll for comedy?  Are you a classics kinda fan?  YouTube has them all now!  Keystone Cops?  Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First” bit?  W.C. Fields? The Marx Brothers?  Ralph, Ed, Alice and Trixie?  Lucy and Desi?  Anyone remember Bill Dana’s culturally-insensitive astronaut Jose Jimenez on the Ed Sullivan Show?! (And there is a real retired NASA astronaut named Jose Hernandez…true!)  Or perhaps the Silver Age of Comedic television series is more your style?  The Green Acres (and yes I can still sing that theme song from memory because of re-runs!), Petticoat Junction, Gilligan’s Island, Addams Family, or my personal favorite of this era Get Smart laugh-track kinda comedic action?  Go for it!  Recently I have re-discovered old Johnny Carson Tonight Show comedy clips on YouTube, which is a comedy treasure trove; any Carson interview of Jonathon Winters (one of the funniest men ever), Rodney Dangerfield or Robin Williams is spit-food-out hysterically funny, and the single time Winters and Williams appeared together has become one of my all-time favorites!!  For more droll, dry wit check out my favorite counseling session ever with Bob Newhart’s “Stop It” on Mad TV (also YouTube), a style I increasingly employ myself!  Then we move into more of own era comedy, with movies like the Blues Brothers, Airplane, Police Academy, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein ( I idolize Gene Wilder!), History of the World Part One, Caddyshack, and of course, Animal House. While I cannot endorse the stereotypes, valuing and cultural baggage represented by these features, I can endorse how hard your sides will ache from laughing!  Now is a good time to laugh!

So little space to continue…any episode or movie ever made by Monty Python, your favorite classic Saturday Night Live sketches (more specific references available upon request), or more contemporary comedy some of which I find less funny than those already referenced.  It really doesn’t matter what makes me laugh as long as it makes you laugh!  And now is a good time to laugh!  Pull up a chair, pull out a memory, find a new bit or sketch or re-discover an old funny…and let’s laugh together at least once a day!

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