Peter Leithart quotes sections of Mikhail Bakhtin’s Dialogic Imagination and Rabelais and his World. In his discussion of laughter in the Medieval Ages, Bakhtin talks about how laughter invaded certain celebrations in the Church Year. In particular, he references the paschal laughter:
During the paschal days laughter was traditionally permitted in church. The preacher permitted himself risque jokes and gay-hearted anecdotes from the church pulpit in order to encourage laughter in the congregation — this was conceived as a cheerful rebirth after days of melancholy and fasting.
The problem with most American churches is that laughter is a part of the overall message conveyed on Sunday morning. However, it is not a laughter grounded in a historic event–such as the resurrection–but a laughter grounded in the silliness of random events in the news or sports. Laughter, when synonymous with biblical joy, must always be grounded in paschal joy. Only the resurrection permits us to laugh without the after thought that our laughter is in vain.