Laughter as an Art

I have long been fond of laughter. If you have met me you know that I do not fear laughing. When things are funny, laughter is the necessary response. G.K. Chesterton criticizes those who do not know the art of laughing at jokes about “bad cheese”. Chesterton’s critics did not laugh at “bad cheese” jokes because they were looking for something foolish and ignorant to laugh at, but in reality “bad cheese” stood for a more subtle and philosophical idea.

Chesterton writes:

Bad cheese is funny because it is (like the foreigner or the man fallen on the pavement) the type of the transition or transgression across a great mystical boundary. Bad cheese symbolises the change from the inorganic to the organic. Bad cheese symbolises the startling prodigy of matter taking on vitality. It symbolises the origin of life itself.

laughter_1925_10_a0Bad cheese like symbolic criticisms of an economic or political system deserves great laughter. If we train our minds to laugh only at that which is simple, then we will never truly laugh. Laughter is an art; it must be cultivated and encouraged.

There is another side to this story. There are those who are immature at laughter. They are so self-centered that they do not allow themselves to be humbled by a joke. They are so isolated that they do not allow themselves to be entertained. This latter point is worth stressing. Ecclesiastes 10:19 says that ” a feast is made for laughter.” If laughter is to be encouraged and if in a feast we get to practice it, then why is there so little feasting? Christians have become virtual gnostics. They adore the theologizing and philosophizing, but they stay away from the feasting. They find little pleasure in a funny story or the jokes of a 10 year old. These Christians have created a “funny” status and if one does reach such level, then they must be kicked out. In the words of a theologian who knows the art of laughter, ” this is not only unChristian; it is inhuman.”

Not all laughter has to be sophisticated! Some times simple jokes are the most effective in producing laughter. Still, Christians must train themselves not to be caught with simple and unnecessary laughter. Crude and unwholesome jokes are an abomination. If we find greater laughter in the seat of scoffers than at the feasting table of saints, then we have sold our souls to misery, for only the wicked find consolation in the jokes of the wicked.

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
This entry was posted in Reflections, Theological Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Laughter as an Art

  1. J.Kru says:

    I’ve been thinking about the difference between “I Love Lucy” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.” The humor in Lucy comes from the often well-intentioned foibles of a married couple in love. Their love for one another makes everything work out like it should.

    “Raymond” has always had a lot of laughs, but it’s grated on me every one of the 5 or 6 times I’ve seen it. I didn’t realize till I started watching “I Love Lucy” that Raymond’s humor is based on two people who can’t really stand one another, and the jokes are how they tear one another apart.

    One affirms marriage, which the Lord made and gave two us. The other tears it apart. I love Lucy features Fred and Ethel as a foil, Everybody loves Raymond just gave them the whole show.

  2. Uri Brito says:

    Good thoughts, Jerrid.
    I am not advocating a return to Little House on the Prairie, though why not?
    But I am ultimately advocating a return to Biblical laughter, which is righteous and true and beautiful. Of course, I am the first to say “guilty.”

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