Last night I watched Amy Schumer crush it in her Saturday Night Live opening monologue. It was a reminder to not take myself so seriously gilded in a series of carefully crafted jokes about baby butts, politics, celebrity obsession, gender roles, and self-image—an eight-minute reflection of gnarly social commentary delivered with a uniquely jaded innocence. We all have issues; some of us have a knack for making them seem hilarious.
The truth will set you free. —John 8:32
Over the last few years I have become infatuated with stand-up comedy—with each comic and his/her unique delivery, choices in subject matter, and willingness to push buttons to illicit the healing power of laughter. More than anything, I am drawn to their brutal honesty. Comedians say the things we are not willing to admit for fear of judgment and ridicule, our own and others’.
Throughout history society has relied on the jester to tell the truth. In the king’s court these clowns were permitted to mock royalty without losing their heads. In the guise of comedy we too can face the ugliest parts of ourselves and laugh at the ridiculous predicaments and subtle deceptions of being human.
As an example, I have been out of bed just ten minutes this morning and I am already subconsciously immersing myself in the illusion that I am not a hairy, smelly animal. I brush my teeth to remove the stink from whatever bacteria have been swimming around my gob. I dress myself in baggy clothes to cover the chunky, unflattering bits and ditch the pajamas that soaked up all my night sweat. I do everything in my power to cover up the fact that I am essentially a monkey with a nice haircut and shoes.
At the end of the day we are an amalgamation of perpetually dying and growing cells—thinking meat bags, if you will. Humans are animals that sometimes seem less evolved than our finned and four-legged counter parts, who at least don’t shit in their own water supply and intentionally poison themselves, yet humans pretend we are greater than beasts. It is high time to start laughing at our illusions with reckless abandon and dispel our hypocrisy whenever possible.
We lie to ourselves and one another in all kinds of insidious ways. My favorite comedians expose these inner deceptions in a manner we can reflect on without judgment—or at least laughing while we judge, “better her than me.” I’d like to remember this sensible solution to strife, and offer it to others, more often than I do. Laugh at the truth rather than fight it.
This week I urge you to go out and laugh at yourself in public or admit something you knowingly conceal from someone you love because you are embarrassed by the truth of it. Share a secret, admit a habit, submit to your fatal flaws, and chuckle. I will do the same and will we can share the outcome of this social experiment in the comments below. I look forward to your reply.