Episode 92: Laughing matters
Stridency is up but so is satire.
I’ve gotten interested in humorlessness.
I’ve come to believe that politics has become less funny, more humorless. I think this is certainly true of professional politicians and their henchmen and henchwomen. I think it is true of pundits and talking heads.
Most important, I think it is true of regular civilians who like to talk – and argue – about politics over dinner or at a bar. Stridency is up; the capacity to take teasing is down. At least that’s my hunch. There is no national gag-o-meter to measure such things.
The absence of laughter and humor is something to worry about. So on this week’s podcast, we paid a vist to Dr. John Morreal of William & Mary University in Virginia, a scholar of the philosophy of humor and has published several books on the subject.
He also has helped businesses and leaders learn to use humor as a helpful tool. Morreal is also a very funny guy, but I’m funnier.
Morreal agrees that politics has gotten more humorless to the extent it has gotten more ideological, polarized and doctrinaire. But he isn’t even mildly concerned about the national funny bone.
He says the supply of satire has never been higher. And the Internet has become an incredible global arena for comedy, kookiness, absurdity and top giggles. Lighten up, he told me.
Still, there is a humorlessness issue in politics. The real problem with political jokes is that they keep getting elected.