Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

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Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by tuttle » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:48 am

I've been on a resurgent Mel Brooks kick as of late and whether it's because I'm older or because our culture is darker, or a combo of the two, whatever the case, I'm finding Brooks to be funnier than ever. The chaos, the zippy jokes, breaking the fourth wall, etc. All classic Brooks. Last night, watching "Men in Tights", I cracked up when the Abbot's staff hits the camera, even though I'd seen it fifteen times.

But something that's struck me re-watching these films is that we, as a culture, have lost (wait...we haven't lost it. We've suppressed it. Crammed it into a little box and shoved it away in our closet) the ability to laugh at ourselves and each other. At this Brooks was/is a master. He freely and boldly satirizes everything we hold near and dear (things the culture now holds with a death-grip or uses as a weapon). He's the master at it because no one gets off scot-free. It's not mean spirited because he's poking all of humanity. Sort of a meta self-deprecation.

But this kind of comedy (at least to the extent/quality of Brooks) is dead. (Mel himself said this last year: source!) The last movie he directed was "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" in 1995. 23 years ago! There's no way any of these movies would be (allowed to be) made today, and I think it's because our society doesn't know how to laugh at itself anymore. We've lost the ability to laugh at each other. If that reveals nothing else, it at least reveals that it's a symptom of a disease. If laughter is the best medicine, it's obvious that our society has refused to take their pills. It's a sign of a lazy society that places a childish (not child-like) importance on seriousness. We've bought into the lie that seriousness is a virtue.
G.K. Chesterton wrote:Seriousness is not a virtue. It would be a heresy, but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one's self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good TIMES leading article than a good joke in PUNCH. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.
That's good. It's easy to be heavy: hard to be light. But because it takes effort to leap, it gives me a little hope that we can re-learn to laugh again in this way. It's easy to get bogged down and tangled up in the weeds of our serious society, but it takes a bit of effort to get ourselves untangled. If we look a little silly when we attempt it, and even fall down, for the love of God, let's at least let that be the beginning point of being able to laugh at ourselves in the attempt.

In that article I linked to above Brooks says this: "Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. It's the lecherous little elf whispering in the king's ear, telling the truth about human behaviour."

Now he doesn't tell us anything we don't already know, (he even echoes Chesterton, walking a thin line is harder than a broad street) but that doesn't make it any less true. Comedy, really funny comedy, like really good fiction, tells the truth about human behavior. Seen in that light, it's no wonder movies like his aren't made anymore. Our society can't handle comedy because it can't handle the truth!

Now for the Christian, two things are evident: 1) The Gospel is the answer/solution to everything; and 2) truth telling is part of the job description. This leads me to believe that the people who should be laughing at themselves the most ought to be the church. (Is it any wonder that the Babylon Bee has made such a splash?) If we are held firm in the hands of Jesus, we have the freedom to be laughing our heads off. We have the freedom to be zany and playful, and to invite everyone to get in on the joke. The answer to a broken world cannot omit humor. Broken people need humor. And the sooner the church catches on to this, and not as a fad, but as a fish to water, the brighter the truth will shine.
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by Jester » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:21 am

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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by infidel » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:03 pm

You sure take this seriously, man :bacon:
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by Jocose » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:30 pm

I saw part of History of the World, part 1 the other night.
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by tuttle » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:37 pm

infidel wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:03 pm
You sure take this seriously, man :bacon:
You just read it in the wrong tone of voice :D
Christmas is Yule, dummies! We're doing the same thing, just better!

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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by sweetandsour » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:56 pm

"It's good to be the king.".
I'm old but I'm happy. (Most of the time.)

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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by Del » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:05 pm

Pipeson goes on short monologues just like the OP. He adores Mel Brooks.

"One day, the news headline is going announce that Mel Brooks has passed away. And I won't be able to handle it."

"Mel Brooks made his last movie some 20 years ago, and no one has come close to making a funny movie since then."

"You can't make movies like Mel Brooks did anymore. People can't laugh anymore. We only know how to be offended."


Meanwhile, Pipeson remains the happiest young man I know. He laughs -- all the time. He literally "cracks himself up." He lets out bursts of uncontrollable laughter at just about any silly thing. Every day, he encounters his newest "BEST THING EVER!"

His old roommate encounter Pipeson streaming comedy songs on Pandora and said, "That's what I always thought the radio in [Pipeson]-topia would sound like."
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by infidel » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:13 pm

I, for one, just don't find Mel Brooks very funny.
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by Jester » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:23 pm

infidel wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:13 pm
I, for one, just don't find Mel Brooks very funny.
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by infidel » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:24 pm

Jester wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:23 pm
infidel wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:13 pm
I, for one, just don't find Mel Brooks very funny.
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:zzz:
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by rgcurrey » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:32 pm

sweetandsour wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:56 pm
"It's good to be the king.".
“My Lord, you look just like the piss-boy!”
Well I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay - B. Springsteen

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. - 2 Tim 4:3-4

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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by FredS » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:32 pm

I was in a discussion just the other day where a friend wondered whether a film like Blazing Saddles could be released today. We pretty much all agreed that, sadly, it could not. I commented that irreverent performers like Joan Rivers and Don Rickles would be run off every college campus in the country. I've always thought that laughing at our stereotypical differences shows that, in fact, we have more commonalities than differences. But, by highlighting and laughing at the stereotypes we acknowledge that there are indeed cultural differences but that's a good thing.

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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by UncleBob » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:55 pm

Let's all remember that racial slurs, while maybe hilarious to some here, are not acceptable under the ToS: app.php/rules

If you want to make those comments or use that humor then please make use of PMs.
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by FredS » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:00 pm

That oversensitive reaction came much quicker than I thought it would. Racial slurs? You ought to step off campus once in a while.
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by wosbald » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:11 pm

"In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph." - Our Lady of Fatima

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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by John-Boy » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:45 pm

FredS wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:00 pm
That oversensitive reaction came much quicker than I thought it would. Racial slurs? You ought to step off campus once in a while.
FYI - The slur was in a post Bob removed. That may or may not have been clear.
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by UncleBob » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:21 pm

FredS wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:00 pm
That oversensitive reaction came much quicker than I thought it would. Racial slurs? You ought to step off campus once in a while.
I would like to talk about the "oversensitive reaction" you mentioned. I realize that many people use racial slurs in America but speaking them in a private context is different than recording them in a public forum. Now many of us are here anonymously but there is an owner of record. What happens if CPS is labeled a hate site? To FredS (and me for that matter) nothing, really. To Munkey, however, that would be very different. Munkey, as the owner of record, may be held responsible for these comments in ways that are not even clear today.
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by infidel » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:27 pm

FredS wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:32 pm
I was in a discussion just the other day where a friend wondered whether a film like Blazing Saddles could be released today. We pretty much all agreed that, sadly, it could not. I commented that irreverent performers like Joan Rivers and Don Rickles would be run off every college campus in the country. I've always thought that laughing at our stereotypical differences shows that, in fact, we have more commonalities than differences. But, by highlighting and laughing at the stereotypes we acknowledge that there are indeed cultural differences but that's a good thing.

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You have a semblance of a point about cultural differences and stereotypes...

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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by durangopipe » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:45 pm

The solution to this is very simple . . .
Everyone needs more Jewish friends. The wine sucks, but the laughter never stops.

My cousin Robert whose mother is Catholic and father is Jewish used to be a comic. He began his sets, always, with this joke:

"My mother is Catholic and my father is Jewish. Ordinarily it's not a problem, but when I go to confession. Well. It goes like this, 'Forgive me Father, for I have sinned . . . and of course you remember my lawyer, Mr. Goldberg.'"

Brooks' films, his humor, are loaded with Jewish culture, Jewish allusions, the history of Jewish (and by intentional implication all oppressed people's) persecution [The Inquisition, The Inquisition . . .], even outright Yiddish. My favorite moment in Blazing Saddles comes when the Indian Chief (Mel Brooks) rides up to a wagon far off the back of the wagon train and with a thoughtful look of recognition on his face says, "Schwarzers!" Yiddish slang for African Americans.

One of his party raises a weapon. He calms him saying, "Zayt nisht messhugga." (Don't be crazy.) Loz I'm gayn. (Let 'em go.)
Before leaving them, he nods and says, "A bie gessint." A Yiddish parting that means, be healthy, or go in health.

And after they're gone, "They're darker than us."

So many levels there.

An Indian speaking Yiddish. The black family having to ride at the "back of the bus." Three marginalized groups involved in the same joke: Jews, African Americans and Native Americans. And throughout the film, clearly the most suave and sophisticated character in the film, the best lover, the truly good man amonq liars, cheats, scoundrels, racists, uneducated hicks and fools: the black sheriff.

Lily von Schtupp (schtupp is Yiddish for sex). She's a Nazi. She falls desperately in love with the black sheriff. Why? Because he's ten times the man any of her Nazi lovers are. "They're always coming and going, and coming and going, and coming and always too soon."

Monte Python are funny. Very funny.
Mel Brooks is funnier - for all the reasons Tuttle suggests. Not just funny hahah. We're human, we're fallible, but we can learn funny.

Sorry Infidel.
You really need more Jewish friends.
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Re: Relearning to Laugh at Ourselves

Post by infidel » Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:03 pm

durangopipe wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:45 pm
Sorry Infidel.
You really need more Jewish friends.
Yeah, probably, but I haven't found any working in IT. Atheists to the left of me, Hindus to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle without Jews.

Now that's funny :chili:
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