Comedy, Morality and Vocation

I adore good comedy…

As a musician, all I really know is that its in the timing.

Dave Chappelle has a good line that goes something like this, “All musicians wish that they were funny and every comedian wishes that they could play music.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that comedy is inextricably connected to the mental realm of morality.  It would be nice to see some neuro-scientists write up that report if it’s true.

How is comedy connected to morality?

Consider this Mel Brooks quote:  “Tragedy is when I get a paper cut on my finger.  Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer – and die.”

This is a dualistic worldview to be sure, but I’ve come to believe that this is a legitimate statement for a true comedian to make.  Comedians are obligated to comment on culture.  They are allowed and encouraged by culture to make hyperbolic and ridiculous comments about the realities of said culture.

And so a vocation is born:  Stand up comic.  Job description:  Cultural regulator.  The comedian tells the truth in an exaggerated manner to provoke laughter in an audience.  The audience either finds the jokes funny, or they don’t.  The rejection of the comic causes the comic to give up or work harder and find places where he’s accepted.

Have you ever stopped and wondered why it is that we have comedians in the first place? They’re just making fun of us.  Why do we tolerate it?  Aren’t we offended?  Maybe sometimes, depends on your point of view.  I personally love that comedians are true moralists.

Case in point:

Carlin’s bit proves to me that he is an extreme naturalist.  I believe that his naturalism is reflected in his moralism.   Behind Carlin’s “potty-mouth’ is a man that critiques foolish divisions in our culture such as religion, government, economy, and most importantly language.

He knows that in order to change a culture – you have to change the language first.  I propose that we purify our language of prejudice and policy and allow people to speak what they truly feel when they feel it.

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