Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Laughter is the best medicine???

Stand up comedy in the West is quite popular and is also a platform for citizens to use humour as a way to publicize issues of public interest. Recently I watched a programme on Arab Americans who were trying their luck with stand up comedy. Their views came together on the issue stating that this was a way to awaken the senses of people to issues that affect them.

In Kerala the last fifteen years has seen the rise of ‘mimicry’ groups. They are groups of five or more people (again largely male) who perform on stage mimicking actors, politicians, and highlighting social issues which are of importance to everyone. It is satire, comedy and acting all rolled into one. So prompt and creative are they that weekly television programmes, which are now a rage, cover the latest topics in the state.

Laughter is good for health. Various studies have even suggested that it helps to reduce stress and lower our blood pressure. It elevates our mood, boosts our immune system, improves the functioning of the brain, protects the heart, brings about instant relaxation, connects us with others and makes us feel good. In India and around the world there are official and registered laughter clubs. A concept called laughter yoga is also popular.

My concerns on this vary. One, the church shies away from laughter, sometimes even treating it as inappropriate and lowly. To laugh with the congregation is seen as unprofessional. Two, why don’t we use comedy to bring out strong messages of concern to all? Three, how will we bring it to a level of judicious action after awakening. How is it possible that people act after they are introduced to reality and just don’t have a good laugh and forget about the siutation?

Making people laugh is an art. Making them laugh and understand a message is an even better art. Maybe as a start, we should begin to laugh at ourselves and use this potential ridden art for better sermons which are self reflective and not judgemental.


Anonymous said...

You have raised a very relevant issue.
I think humour is not appreciated in any place where there is a lack of equality and democracy.

Fr Jerry said...

The problem is that we feel comfortable to poke fun at each other and fail to see that making fun of ourselves does not mean that we are weak and not in control.