I’m a big fan of laughing and fun in general. Often I don’t understand why we can’t laugh at how messed up lives or world seems because I like to laugh at how ridiculous things can be seen. Reader’s Digest has an article on how we can use laughter to get through tough times.
The worse things get, the funnier I think they are–that’s just how I grew up, how I learned to handle things,” she says. “But aside from that, I think you have to be funny so that other people don’t freak out. I mean, it’s fine to be going ‘Oh my God, I have cancer’ with your closest friends. But you can’t do that with everyone; you can’t ask the entire world to buoy you up.”
Dark humor is also, for Rich, a thumb in the eye to pain. “With cancer, it’s saying ‘You can take my body, but you’re not taking my mind,'” she says. “There’s a form of macho defiance there I really like.”
Humor also puts people at ease. Robert Reich is terrific at this. The former Clinton Labor secretary is four feet ten inches tall, born with a congenital disorder that stunted his growth. When he was running for governor of Massachusetts a few years ago, he’d start his speeches with “They told me to be short.” Or, standing on a step stool, he’d announce, “I’m the only candidate with a real platform.” His audience was comfortable with his height because he was comfortable. It’s a sophisticated form of consideration.
A twisted sense of humor, I realized recently, is the common denominator among the most loving, considerate people I know. A few years ago, my friend Spencer’s father died; this year, Spencer spent much of his time at the bedside of his mother, who was waging a long battle with heart disease. He loved her deeply, but he’s not exactly a sensitive New Age guy. A theater fanatic, he said only this in the e-mail announcement when his mother died: “Well, I can finally join the chorus of Annie.”