Humor “makes us free.”
That was Bob Newhart’s observation during a commencement address at my alma mater, the Catholic University of America in 1997. “As long as the tyrant cannot control the minds of free men, they remain free,” the comedian continued. “Humor abounded behind the Iron Curtain and in POW camps. Humor is also our way of dealing with the inexplicable. We had an earthquake a couple of years ago in Los Angeles, and it wasn’t more than three or four days later that I heard the first earthquake joke. Someone said, ‘The traffic is stopped, but the freeways are moving.’”
“Laughter gives us distance,” he went on to ssay.
The writer goes on to emphsize the point Newhart was getting at, which is that laughter makes us free. And she postulates that we are gecoming less free as we allow the mind-control bullies to harangue us about "tolerance" and "civility." They don't have that distance from whatever issue they're consumed with, and they don't want us to, either.
I don't know that we're less free, but the less we laugh the less we enjoy life. I've always thought that you can tell a lot about somebody from what they will not allow themselves to laugh at. The lesson Newhart took from the earthquake jokes is one we could all learn from. I remember hearing my first 9/11 joke and thinking that the country might finally be starting to come to terms with it.
People with a sense of humor tend to be less egocentric and more realistic in their view of the world and more humble in moments of success and less defeated in times of travail. I certainly don’t delude myself that there aren’t certainly more important things to do in life than make people laugh, but I can’t imagine anything that would bring me more joy.