Are you a Charlie Sheenophile, or a Kadafi-ite? Your answer holds the key to how YOU use humor as a coping mechanism.
There are two camps out there. Those who like to be distracted from the bad news. And then there are those of us who hurtle ourselves toward it, in order to overcome it.
If you use the type that’s wrong for you, it will backfire. The results will be worse than the bad news you were trying to avoid OR run into.
Maybe you prefer to check out the Sheen live-stream.
“What’s he up to now?”
“Wow, that guy is really messed up!”
“And I thought MY life was bad!?”
You’re the type who chooses to not look into the face of evil, who would rather watch someone fall off a ladder (someone you don’t know, of course). Humor, for you, provides the distracting distance you need to get on with your day relatively free from stress and anxiety.
And then there are the others.
“Did you realize gas is $3.49 here? We should riot!”
“Why aren’t we helping those poor people in Libya?”
“Why can’t I get a bank loan?”
These statements aren’t meant to alarm anyone. They are the starting point for the humor mechanism to run its course.
This second camp naturally gravitates toward the negative—because that’s where the mother-lode of humor resides (for them). The first group misses this point, just as the second group doesn’t laugh at slapstick humor.
Neither is better or worse than the other type.
Both are necessary for their beholders.
Both are effective for their users.
Which type are YOU?
How would you know?
And how funny is THAT?
That’s what I realized this winter while rehearsing for the Community Playhouse Inc.’s annual Honky Tonk comedy/variety show. The theme for this year was “Coming to America,” a recounting of the trials of a group of immigrants and their experiences at Ellis Island.
Our characters faced lots of rotten circumstances. Having to leave loved ones behind by choice, or by failing the medical inspection. Giving up cherished ethnic foods upon boarding the ship.
Getting their names changed, and literally having to leave their old identity behind as they entered this new world.
As in any big change, we tend to focus on these negatives. So how to get around that? By going THROUGH the negative, using it and molding it into something that can make us laugh!
That’s exactly what our writer and director, Deb Hardy, did: she twisted the travails into a brilliant comedic masterpiece.
1. My Italian husband had to give up his precious cheese. Instead, he hid it in his shirt and turned the fear and panic into a fantastic physical comedy bit.
2. The German teachers turned the inspection around and inspected the inspectors. They focused on their new school and counting lesson, “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.”
3. The Scottish and Irish immigrants almost didn’t pass the inspection because they wore both kilts and facial hair.
4. Although my Italian name was Giorgetta and would have to be changed to “George”, I wasn’t worried. Instead, I enjoyed being Peggy Sue Jones in a skit to the song, “Have You Met Miss Jones.”
Ethnic stereotypes? Sure! A great way to overcome tremendous obstacles and thrive in a new, strange land? Absolutely! By making light of their plight, the immigrants could remember the bright spots: They would enjoy a new beginning, and a new chance at life.
When we remember to laugh during the rottenness we’re stronger, and ready to enjoy the good parts that are part of EVERY transition!
What’s YOUR Ellis Island this month? How funny is that?