You can find many truths in laughter. You can learn things about yourself and your surroundings just based on what you and others laugh about. Laughter is involuntary, and it’s triggered when something we hear and/or see contradicts something we subconsciously know to be true. Usually it involves something we know to be ridiculous. For an example, I’ll use the thing I saw that inspired me to write this article:
My wife enjoys watching American Dad, and we were watching it last night in the background while working on our individual art projects. Francene, the main character’s wife, manages to mentally control her husband by taking advantage of his amnesia after an accident. Klaus, their sentient pet fish, tells Francene,
“There’s a special place in hell for people like you.” (agreed)
“Right next to the child molesters” (agreed)
“And the attractive children who seduce them” (wait what??)
Obviously, the show wrote that line to be a joke. It was meant to be funny. And my wife and I did find it funny. Hilarious, actually. But it got me asking myself, How is that funny? Pedophilia is more evil than murder… so how is that funny?
Well, it’s for that very reason that that joke was funny. It’s because Klaus’ statement is absurd and outlandish which makes it funny. If it weren’t outlandish, it wouldn’t have been funny at all. If people didn’t find pedophilia to be evil, nobody would have found that line funny. It’s because we know that it’s evil that we can find such a stupid justification for it funny.
When I heard the talking fish say that, I honestly imagined far-left liberals getting outraged saying, “Oh my god, how can they make a joke about that??”
Milo Yiannopoulos once said, “Laughter is the first thing to go in authoritarian regimes.” And that’s absolutely true, because dictators know that laughter is involuntary and almost impossible to suppress, and it’s a natural response to the ridiculous. Nobody with absolute authority can tolerate laughter because it proves something true that they don’t want to be true, such as Kim Jong-un threatening war with the United States simply because it produced a movie (The Interview) that makes fun of him. The fact he was offended by that movie, or really the fact that anyone, anywhere, gets offended by laughter is because it’s an undeniable reflection of something they know is true that they don’t want to be true.
So, here’s yet another reason I think the character of the Joker is such a work of genius. He laughs at everything, including and especially Batman himself. Joker is undeniably very intelligent, and sophisticated. Yet, he laughs manically all the time. What’s so funny to him? How is everything so funny to him? He must just be insane, right? Well, no. He’s actually saner than most other people, because to him, life itself is a joke. And when you think about it, that’s kind of true. We all die, and Batman’s entire campaign to fight crime and keep people safe. But Joker knows crime will always exist, and everyone always dies eventually. So Batman’s very existence is a joke, and Joker will never stop laughing about it. Joker’s very existence is a statement to the world that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. We should have fun. We should laugh. Because the darkness is coming for us all. We must do what we can to keep loved ones safe, but we should never pretend as if we can save them 100%.
It’s obvious to me that Joker knows he is evil, and more importantly, it’s obvious that he’s a broken man underneath. The people who write his character all seem to get this right. It’s reading between the lines, but it’s still surprisingly consistent. He always mentions when he knows he said something “too soon”, and even talks about love sometimes. He understands, but he doesn’t care. He seems to be just as dead on the inside as Batman. He can’t care for, or love, anything anymore because something, at some point, destroyed his spirit. I remember reading in some comic in which Joker achieves God-like power over the universe, he says he’s going to destroy the universe for this reason: Because someone like him can exist in it. I think the only thing keeping Joker alive is his ability to laugh at everything. Again, I know he’s a fictional character, but there’s so much philosophical truth to be found in him. He’s a clear representation of someone who has literally given up on everything. Also tells me that perhaps he used to be a very compassionate, generous person. A person’s heart can’t be destroyed unless there was a heart to be destroyed in the first place. Whenever I see the Joker in a video game or on TV, I think to myself, “Damn, I hope nobody gets as broken as he is.”
Of course, all that only concerns the most extreme cause of laughter, or perhaps I should say, the most extreme need for laughter. I’m not implying that just because somebody laughs, it’s because they’re fighting depression. Not everyone who laughs needs to. I do it because I love laughing, almost as much as I love eating. Sometimes it’s just fun to laugh; to take pleasure in ridiculous things. All extremes aside, laughing does stem from knowing certain truths, and it can be the perfect counter to things that can weigh us down. Crazy people can laugh, obviously, but most often times, laughter is a sign that we’re still mentally intact and not going crazy.
Think of what comedians talk about most of the time, if not all the time. Whether it’s observational humor or self-deprecating humor, have you ever noticed that pretty much all comedy stems from truths we know which certain things in our lives try to deny or contradict? To find things funny, that requires at least some kind of knowledge, of something. For someone like Joker, who yes is fictional, that must require a considerable amount of brains to be able to find everything funny. But here’s the most important thing I’ve recently learned concerning intelligence and the hard truths of life:
Laughter is the best alternative to depression.
Even though I’m happily married, some things about the universe and some things in my past that I still wish never happened, will always be there no matter what. Higher knowledge alone can be depressing even if everything in your life is utterly perfect.
It’s depressing that we all die and there’s nothing we can do to stop death. It’s depressing that there is no god to watch over you and make everything perfect. It’s depressing that there’s no such thing as paradise. It’s depressing that everyone you love is going to hurt you, in some way, at some point in your life. It’s depressing that you can never have everything you want. It’s depressing that I’ll never be able to see a real dinosaur haha. On and on the list goes.
So, rather than being defeated by the darkness, use the darkness to feel good. Laugh at the darkness.