Funny or Offensive?
Funny or offensive is hard to determine these days. Some universal things are funny across all cultures. However, with the triggered sensitivities of the day, a broad spectrum of funny, may be a thing of the past.
Humor has been in the news a lot lately, and it isn’t funny. If Don Rickles, of blessed memory, were alive today, he’d be tending bar. His brand of humor certainly wouldn’t be funny or tolerated. But back in the day, he was one of the best. His style was to make fun of every possible race, religion, ethnicity, and personality. He made fun of himself and others. It was well known that he was kind and compassionate and open-hearted to all. He attacked stereotypes and made us aware of them. He always left his audiences feeling like they were in on a joke, not the brunt of it. But those days are gone. What was funny then, for sure, would be offensive now.
Roseanne Barr was likely influenced by Rickles. Her dry, satyrical style of humor also calls it as she sees it but in this world, there is a zero tolerance zone. Imagine if funny pet videos, in which a sleeping puppy is wearing a necktie, became as heinous a crime as training and using Pitbulls to fight in a ring. The generation who grew up laughing would now suddenly be shamed.
I’m not saying that Roseanne Barr exercised good taste in what she said, by any means, but the comedy rules have changed. Life has changed.
While we’re discussing all things that are the farthest from funny, let’s look at Bill Cosby. How in the world could we have imagined that as we laughed, watching “America’s father,” Bill Cosby, of the Bill Cosby Show, he was drugging women and forcing sexual encounters with them? He used them as objects for his pleasure. How disgusting and violated we all feel at the betrayal of who we thought we knew him to be. It’s all unsettling.
Who could ever forget the unusual-looking and extraordinarily talented man that Robin Williams was? He could make us laugh and cry at the same time. Robin united the world and asked nothing from us in return. He made us, and allowed us, to laugh. And yet, his pain was so great that he executed his own exit from this world through suicide. Devastating. Such a mystery, this thing called humor, and how it thrills and can also burden us.
These experiences with humorous people, behaving in ways that are the antithesis of humor are mind-boggling. For this week’s enchanted breath, let’s realign ourselves with our God-given gift of laughter.
Breathe out the tension from your muscles and nerves. Invite your mind to relax and your ruffled feelings to calm. Turn your attention to laughter with regard to what you find funny and what does offend. Let’s be mindful that no one else is hurt in the making of our fun, and that there is no laughing at, but only laughing with another. Conversely, we can also shore up our spirits a bit, so that we can discern whether to draw our swords or use an opportunity as a teaching moment and move on.
Enchanted Breaths are the “ahh, the haha, and the aha! of life.”