Friday, November 03, 2006

This is NOT a Funny Post

Did anyone see October go by? Seriously, though, wasn’t it September just … like last week? I have got to slow down, or else I’ll be retired before I really get started.


Please do not smile, and read this VERY SERIOUS column by Kansas City Star writer Lewis Diuguid. (You pronounce his name Do-Good. So yes, that means he is a left-wing opinion columnist named Do-Good. (Insert punchline here.))

Diuguid doesn’t want any more laughing. He thinks it detracts from the seriousness of the world’s situation. He wrote, “Laughter … deflates and diverts people’s attention from what should be a buildup of public outrage, causing folks to vote for change.” It “trivializes serious things” and “diminishes suffering.”

His column cites a study called “‘The ‘Daily Show’ Effect: Candidate Evaluations, Efficacy and American Youth.” This study proposes that young people in America are more cynical and negative about politics because we watch The Daily Show. Actually, I think young people in America watch The Daily Show because we are cynical and negative about politics. And furthermore, The Daily Show is thriving mostly because the American political scene is a joke, worthy of nothing much more than cynicism and negativity. Whatever, Diuguid then spins this study to try to prove his hypothesis that humor is deteriorating the level of public discourse in our society.

I usually agree with Mr. Diuguid, but not this time. If anything, we need MORE laughter in our public discourse. Like the soldiers in Iraq who responded to John Kerry’s recent stupid remark with a banner that read, “Halp us, Jon Carry. We R stuck hear in Irak.” Hilarious! Some people were “outraged” by Kerry’s remark – that’s their problem, bunch of fuddy-duddies. Laughing about it is a much healthier response.

Have you ever been in an emergency room and heard the banter among doctors, nurses, and staff? As a hospital chaplain a few years ago, I heard E.R. humor that most sensible Midwestern churchgoers would likely have deemed a smidge … umm … inappropriate, if not downright offensive. But when confronted with the nasty stuff they saw, the E.R. staff had a choice, either make jokes or go insane. Thankfully, they choose to laugh, and subsequently were better able to handle the stress so they could do their jobs.

When one takes oneself too seriously, a whole bunch of bad stuff starts to happen. One’s face gets all frowny and wrinkled, one’s shoulders start to hunch over, the acid produced in one’s stomach starts to eat away one’s stomach lining, and one ends up locked in a padded cell somewhere. Either that or becomes vice president of the United States. It is hard to imagine just how many problems we could fix if we would just agree to lighten up a little bit. Chill out! Relax! Don’t worry, be happy! And all that kind of stuff.

One other thing: I hereby decree that just typing “LOL” on your computer screen doesn’t count unless you actually Laugh Out Loud. Don’t abuse it, people, or else it will be taken away, probably by someone like Lewis Diuguid, who in my humble opinion is not doing anyone a bit of good by telling us to be more serious. As Dr. Seuss says, “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”


Kansas Bob said...

I started watching Stewart and Colbert this summer (I like Colbert better) but stopped watching because they just aren't that funny. Their humor is not original and mostly pretty lame and cynical.

I still watch Leno (when I can stay awake) because, unlike Stewart, he doesn't seem to take himself to seriously and his humor is not mean-spirited.

I think that we (read that me) have to be careful what we put before us on a regular basis ... this stuff really influences us. For me, I am already way too cynical when it comes to political and religious leaders and don't need any help in becoming more cynical.

Philippians 4:8 comes to mind:

"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." (MSG)

Seamhead said...

Stewart takes himself too seriously?? I think you had some preconceived notions when you started watching. I remember Stewart's line from Crossfire when Tucker Carlson accused him of lack of diligence in question politicians - "My show's on after puppets making crank calls. You're CNN!"

I like the daily show, but I think Stephen Colbert is hilarious. You should have seen him singing "I write the songs" with Barry Manilow last week. It was a riot.

The only reason the humour on "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" seems mean-spirited is because it is dead on. It points out the seriuos shortcomings of our mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Andy. Even got a Dick Cheney shot in there, nicely done.

I agree. That dude at the KC star needs to relax. The Daily Show is funny for the same reason Spinal Tap is funny- poking fun at things that actually happen. My pops won't miss an episode.

The key line in that article talked about how Jon Stewart's show focuses on the absurdities of American policitics. Dang, I could've told you that...gimme some grant money for a study!

Vinny said...

For those of you who saw the election ad montage on TDS last Tuesday, here's my response:

"Lewis Diuguid voted to allow children as young as seven to be tased. SEVEN-YEAR-OLDS! TASED! WITH 50,000 VOLTS OF ELECTRICITY!"

To a certain extent, I see Diuguid's point of building apathy among the electorate. It's kind of a chicken-or-egg issue: have voters become apathetic because they sense no real difference between the major political parties (or find the choices equally distasteful), or have the political parties morphed into an indistinguishable blob because the politicians recognize that the majority of American voters don't care?

But with high voter turnout predicted for the mid-term election (Boone County expects 70% plus, versus 50-something percent in 2004), I think Diuguid's thesis will be proven to be bogus. This stuff tends to come and go in cycles.

Pam said...

Great post!! "Many a truth is said in jest" and "laughter is the best medicine." Both so very true!

While I think we have to intelligently choose what we watch, more importantly, we must intelligently choose how to process that information. A large percentage of news items, polictical ads, comedic shows, etc. all have a percentage of truth to them. What you choose to believe is up to the recipient of the information. We must all be careful not to take ourselves or the information we see and hear too seriously.

The Daily Show is popular because it showcases the lunacy that is politics in our country today. This show is not the problem with voter apathy. Negativity and cynicism among voters is the result of politicians (not all) failing to represent their constituents in an effective(and honest) manner.

As for John Kerry's comments, poor President Bush and his spin doctor's didn't get the joke...or did they?

Great scripture reference Kansas Bob!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Andy for speaking the truth! My husband and I watch the Daily Show religiously because through humor it tells a truth not spoken on the networks....why don't we get the lunacy our political system is these days! Proof in the pudding-- Dick Cheney is heading out on a hunting trip today, election day. If he did not learn his lesson practically shooting his friend's face off, I am even more sad. Of course, comedians will have a field day with this news today. Until we get out and vote, the Daily Show will be my hope and comfort.