I was listening to an audio book at work the other day and I heard something described to me that resonated with my own feelings and experiences in a deep and personal way.
The book was "Nothing's Sacred" by Lewis Black (as read by the man himself). The chapter I refer to describes his youth and how he, as a high school student, overcame the shock and tragedy of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and how that event played a part in his development into the noted comedian he is today.
From "Nothing's Scared":
And as my world seemingly began to crumble, my sense of humor began to blossom. The genetically bred cynic that I was began to acquire the joy of the properly placed sarcastic remark.Nothing develops one's sense of the funny better than the hard reality of trauma. It's how we deal with the overwhelming shock-- it helps us hide from it, and in a weird way, it's how we heal. Humor is how we find comfort in the totally illogical, for it is the bridge back to the logical.
And after trauma, the funny gets a whole lot darker. My sense of humor is how I got through high school, so you could say that President Kennedy's death made me enjoy my time in high school. Because after going through that kind of madness, high school was a piece of cake.
All my high school friends had one thing in common: They were very funny people. A few of them had started a cartoon book, drawn from personal experiences and the world that we were living in. These cartoons were at times very filthy, but boy, were they fiercely funny. The book moved into a higher gear when a fellow student of ours, sadly, killed himself. He was to us merely a face in the crowd, as he was new to our school. Suicide was something that none of us could really fathom, so there was cartoon after cartoon pondering what brought this young man to such a sad fate.
It seemed to my friends that our fellow student was really looking for that perfect orgasm when he died. The kind achieved while one is suffocating. This was a whole new concept to all of us, an alternative to our tawdry attempts, which were certainly not taught in our health classes. No doubt any adult who saw these cartoons would have been appalled and demand that we each seek psychiatric care.
As time passed, these cartoons grew into more and more depraved images--the sicker they got, the funnier we found them. One in particular comes to mind, of Christ on the cross, minions as far as the eye could see. He was smiling and singing a tune, while sporting a huge boner and ejaculating on Romans and worshipers alike. It filled two full pages and made us scream with laughter. It was sick, for sure, and I'll concede that you probably had to be there.
This type of nonsense wouldn't be tolerated today, not after Columbine. We, this group of very intelligent and well-behaved high school students would be seen as half-crazed, insensitive monsters that are liable to do anything. After all, the casual onlooker would be convinced we obviously had no real value system. But they would be wrong, because we did have a system of values, and it was called "finding the funny".
What strikes me about this passage is that it almost perfectly describes my own days in school and how I gained a greater appreciation for humor, especially the kind of humor that most people are too anal or politically correct to appreciate. When I was in school, I, my brother, and his best friend all kept spiral notebooks filled with the most outlandish, violent, sexual, morbid and screamingly hilarious drawings and comics ever created by pubescent kids.
They weren't really dirty, little secrets because we personally saw nothing wrong with the simple act of drawing such images. We felt that the blame existed solely with the image itself except instead of blame we saw instant humor and relief. While most kids our age were discovering the joys of masturbation, we were discovering the joys of jokes and comedic situations involving masturbation.
For a time I feared that we were unique in our taste for the insane, as not many of our friends had the same zest or even tolerance for such extreme humor. I haven't found many people online who draw the kind of insane crap I do, and if they do, they do it for reasons other than humor--most of which is sexual.
There's no doubt in my mind that much of the trauma I've experienced in my youth has in some way molded my sense of humor, and I certainly had my share of trauma. But it is true that the more exposed you are to the darker side of life, the darker your sense of humor becomes. I often think of humor as a coping mechanism, and I believe it is important for everyone to have at least one good, hearty laugh each day. To do otherwise drags one's life down into a sullen and miserable existence. There seems to be an excessive amount of negativity on the internet these days and I wonder if it serves as an outlet or if that very same negativity rules the major part of their lives.
Here on DeviantArt, I've found that you can seldom make fun of anything without dealing with wave after wave of people who either hate you for making fun of something they like or people who believe you hate the very things you're making fun of. Are there really so many people who can't take jokes at face value without interpreting them as a challenge of their deepest beliefs?
Listening to: Lewis Black, Patton Oswalt, Goodie Mob, Chromeo
Reading: The computer screen
Watching: Horror movies, Pacific Rim, The Walking Dead
Playing: RE 4: Wii Ed., TMNT: OOTS
Eating: Pizza and junk