31 May 2010

Its always funny until someone gets hurt then its just hilarious A Comical rant

I love comedy. It's funny how much I love comedy actually.

You see I just made a joke. I used a word (i.e. funny) that is synonymous with comedy to describe my feeling about humour and all its connotations.

OK it wasn't the best joke ever, but it was still a joke. You can't deny that. Or maybe a joke to be defined as a joke must have at its very core one simple element...it needs to be funny. And since most people won't have found my joke funny would not then label it as a joke. So me referring to it as a joke in that previous sentence was a lie and so you can't trust anything I write and should therefore stop reading this right now.

But that's the thing about comedy. Everyone is different. Everyone has different tastes. Some people think the Office (UK version) is funny. Other don't (I like to call them idiots). Some people think Laurel and Hardy are funny. Others prefer Abbot and Costello. Some people are offended by shows like Brass Eye. Others see past the controversial topics and focus on what the show is trying to tell us. Some people think a joke is enhanced by the f word. Others think it is unneccessary.

But the thing that is true about all comedy is that it will either make you laugh or it won't.

But are there lines that we shouldn't cross? Or is every topic fair game?

I am going to admit right now that I love dark humour. I love jokes where you go "ooooooooh" after. I love Brass Eye. I love Blue Jam. I love Curb Your Enthusiasm. I love people like Ricky Gervais and Frankie Boyle. I love comedians that have balls to say something they know will be offensive. I heard Ricky Gervais say once in an interview with Larry David that sometimes comedians just have to say things and not worry about the reaction.

Part of me likes that. I like the risk that entails. 

But all this talk about what is appropriate to laugh at leads to an important question.

How should our faith and beliefs affect what we laugh at?

A few years ago a huge controversy arose after a cartoon of Mohammed appeared in a Danish publication. Many Muslims were outraged and offended by it and maybe they had a right to be.

But what about Christians? This made me think. How are we supposed to react to jokes that poke fun at God or Jesus? Is the Life of Brian OK to watch? What about the recurring jokes about Jesus in Family Guy?

A lot of Christians find this stuff offensive. And that's OK. Really it is. We should be free to air our opinions on all sorts of topics, including humour. But what about jokes that make fun of gay people or people with disabilities. I know a lot of Christians that use the word 'gay' as a derogatory word for things. Similarly many use the word 'retarded' to describe situations that they find twisted.

I know Christians who have laughed at and made jokes at the expense of certain people e.g. homosexuals.

Is this OK? Isn't there some sort of upside down logic when on one hand we are offended by jokes made about a Divine God who let's face it can take it, and on the other hand make fun of groups of people who have been marginalised. Is this dare I say it, a form of bullying? Is this what Jesus was about? 

And maybe the problem is that we just have a hard time laughing at ourselves. Maybe if we took the time to look at the absurdities of Religion and Christianity we wouldn't be so quick to be offended by others making fun of us. Maybe, just maybe we would see what others see and it would make us consider how we react to them. Maybe when comedians make fun of Christianity they have a point.

Christians have a history of being offended. We are good at it. What we aren't so good at is always loving our enemies. Sure some jokes about Religion are maybe too close to the bone and we shouldn't laugh at them. But how we react is where we can really have an impact. What would happen if instead of being offended all the time we instead looked at some of our practices and flaws and realised just how absurd they are.

Maybe there are things that are just not appropriate for Christians to laugh at. But maybe those things aren't so much jokes about Christianity but jokes against people who we should be standing up for.

Should we be offended at jokes about God and then turn around and laugh at jokes about gay people? Of course not. 

Which is why I am glad for people like Jon Acuff and Tripp and Tyler. People who aren't afraid to poke fun at our Christian bubble. People, who instead of going on the defensive are joining in and highlighting our faults through humour.

Maybe by doing that we can change Christianity for the better. Being offended so much pushes others who are outside of Christianity away. It alienates them and means we put up our barriers even further when others laugh at us.

So we go out sometimes and offend.

Which is hurtful.

And that's just not funny.


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