I was taught grammar by a nun who cracked small jokes throughout her lessons. I study for my exams by creating double entendres with vocabulary I need to know. I’ve always loved when my intellectual life gets invaded by humor. That’s why I search out scripts, autobiographies, short stories, anything written, really, as long as it touches upon humor in some way. I’ve read poems by musical comedian Bo Burnham. I picked up a copy of a cookbook written by YouTube star Hannah Hart, smiling at every food-related pun she wrote. I spent ages hunting down the autobiography of past SNL member Rachel Dratch, which I finally found in a used book store in New York City, tucked away in a corner in the shop’s basement.
In my opinion, humor is so fascinating because it is a short yet clever manipulation of some aspect of truth, usually holding the potential to capture the attention of many. Humor has the ability to touch upon serious subjects such as homophobia, racism, and mental health issues, along with so much more, and it not only can enhance the perspective of an author writing, but it can create a bigger impact of a written piece on those who read it. My favorite piece of writing is a script entitled “Brotherly Love,” written by a man named Ean Miles Kessler. It’s a rather short script with only two characters, who are brothers. Set in a town called Lynchburg in Virginia, it portrays one brother right after he comes out as gay to the other brother. The humor that follows is crass and theatrical, but the underlying message of the piece; true love within a family is proven when each member accepts the others as they are; has the potential to strike a reader long after the piece has been finished. No matter what the audience believes about the morality of same-sex relationships, the piece distracts from the plot by using humor, so that even people who are homophobic would likely find the piece to be entertaining. By exposing these homophobic audience members to a piece that insults homophobia in a way that is not directly attacking the audience themselves, the message of the piece can enter the minds of the readers in a smooth manner. Instead of being a script, I would consider “Brotherly Love” to be an example of how humor can be used as a tool for gradual social change.
There’s something so special about humor because it usually has that underlying message, that belief the author holds yet does not want to push directly down the throats of the readers. It festers in the mind of the audience as they finish reading a piece, but it’s only until the silliness of the humor wears off when it begins to show. It’s a gradual shift, and it gives the reader more time to process the points the author is making. Humor is a powerful instrument for change, and so every time I come across it in a written piece, I get very excited.
I’ve applied my experience with humor to the school environment, and so far, my ideas about the power of humor have only solidified. I got a smiley face next to the Beyoncé reference I made in an English commentary. My French teacher talked to me about how much he liked one of my assignments, which was supposed to be a generic letter or diary entry from a character in a novel we were reading, when I decided to flip the story so that the setting was in outer space, the characters morphed into aliens. The real world can be bland at times; humor captures the attention of many, even if it does not receive positive reviews. As a thinker, I value being open-minded more than anything else. Humor is a way to achieve a level of open-mindedness among people who are not open-minded themselves. It’s underrated and entirely effective, and it manages to get points across without being overwhelming.
How better to end this, but with a simple joke?
I invented a new word yesterday. The new word is plagiarism.
(I hope you laughed.)