By Sarah Mowery For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with comedy. That’s not saying much because, full disclosure, I’m 20 and “as long as I can remember” is realistically only about 13 years. But at some point during those 13 years, I stumbled upon some early 1990s reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and I was sold. Whose Line blew my mind. I couldn’t imagine anything more amazing than a couple of middle-aged dudes picking up a pool noodle and pretending it was a telescope – so creative! So hilarious! I eventually transitioned from late nights of Whose Line and the ever-sophisticated America’s Funniest Home Videos to an only slightly embarrassing sitcom phase. Two spring breaks in a row were spent following a strict TV regimen of Family Matters followed by Day by Day and back-to-back episodes Full House. I was a busy kid.
I realized that, while my The World’s Greatest Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids and Captain Underpants books were and still are important pieces of literature, there was a whole wide world of comedy out there just waiting to be explored. When I finally discovered SNL and Youtube became a thing, it was official; I was a comedy junkie.
The thing is, I hate that term. Comedy junkie. It makes me sound like a huge douche. I even heard myself think that sentence before typing it and asked myself, “What, like you’ve got a better sense of humor than everyone else or something? You think you’re better than other people because you can find videos on FunnyOrDie and you ‘have an appreciation for satire’? YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL.” There’s just no legitimacy to the term. If someone says she’s a comedy junkie, it almost feels like some sort of weird challenge to see who can reference the most obscure Gilda Radner sketch. If someone says she’s a heroin junkie, on the other hand, no one’s gonna be like, “Oh yeah? Prove it!”
Comedy (and the appreciation thereof) is a subjective thing. People will always differ when it comes to what makes them laugh. Some people hate the new cast of SNL. I think they’re great. Some people have never seen a Bill Murray film. I don’t know who those people are, but I assume they probably exist. Some people don’t think fart jokes are funny. I think they should shut up and stop ruining things for the rest of us. It’s fine. We’re all adult individuals here, and we’re allowed to disagree.
But I think that what we can agree on, and the reason I consider myself a so-called comedy junkie, is that comedy is extremely important. We often underestimate it, but laughter is such a powerful force. It lifts us up when we’re down. It brings us together. It makes us feel better about ourselves. It makes the points that reason and logic sometimes can’t quite drive home. It motivates people to act.
I’m sure everyone reading this can think of several examples. What comes first to my mind is the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This show is full of horrible human beings who are, at a minimum, openly racist, sexist, and narcissistic, but we love them because they play out all the most scandalous thoughts we have but would never act on. Damn, it would be really easy to develop a low-scale dependency on crack so I can collect welfare. No, no, I would never do that, that’s wrong. Yeah, the guys on Always Sunny do that.
I think of the series of exclusive FunnyOrDie videos promoting the Affordable Care Act, including the episode of “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis” with President Obama, which uses comedy to demystify the controversial topic of Obamacare. I think of Hilarity for Charity, the philanthropic movement using comedy to benefit The Alzheimer’s Association and how a good laugh would be a hell of a lot more successful at getting anyone I know to donate to a cause than a depressing montage of malnourished dogs (ahem, Sarah McLachlan). I think of satirical news sources such as The Onion that, rather than annoy me with biases and lack of sufficient coverage of the issues that matter (ahem, CNN), make me think, “Haha! That’s such a good point!” I think of how a gallon of ice cream has nothing on a good roast session of your ex after a bad breakup. I think of the multiple people I’ve met in my improv classes at DCH who have said they signed up for improv because they have boring jobs or they’re going through a rough patch and want to spice up their lives. And I think of the many ways those people have said improv has improved their lives after just one term of classes.
The world is full of tragedy, but comedy can so often provide that ray of light that we need in the midst of dark times. Something I’ve learned as I’ve grown up and become more aware of the various difficulties we’ll all endure over the course of a lifetime is that we can’t let the tough stuff get us down too much. We mourn, we reflect, we move on. We have to. But we also have to always remember to keep on living, and to keep on laughing.
Sarah Mowery is a level 2 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She's also a intern blogger for the website. You can check out more of her comedy stylings HERE!