Some say religion is an opiate for the masses, there to soothe our woes and travails. Comedy does this too.
My dad and I watched Saturday Night Live together when I was growing up. I know how much he liked watching humor, including other comedies like The Bob Newhart Show and I Love Lucy.
I continue to watch Saturday Night Live, not only cuz it’s entertaining and gets me out of my head, and I myself have always aspired to be a comedienne, but also because when I watch it, I feel my dad’s presence. He’s been gone for 16 years, but whenever I need a good laugh, I’m grateful Saturday Night Live is still there— connecting me to my roots and connecting me to dad.
It’s as if my dad was telling me through watching comedy with him years back that comedy is a salve for suffering. He himself lost his mother when he was 33 years old. And I know how hard it was for him. When my dad passed away I felt like he modeled for me losing a parent at a young age (albeit, I was 21). That idea of marching on, continuing with your goals. He actually opened his private practice the very month she passed away—it was something that was in the works for a considerable time, and her death was sudden.
My dad gave me more than just quality time with him those Saturday nights. He planted seeds in me to appreciate comedy. And when my life would get even tougher, I had comedy to help me through.
In recent years, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for what comedy is. I’m starting to see why doing comedy is so cathartic—cuz it allows you to express extreme emotion, which undoubtedly trauma survivors have. It provides a space for that. And when you combine strong emotions with silly scenarios you can’t help but laugh. That’s one reason why comedy is funny—it’s a disproportionate amount of emotion to a somewhat mundane experience. It’s cathartic in its ludicrousness. Furthermore, many comedians got into comedy due to their desire to bring joy to others since they themselves knew the pain of difficult emotions—Robin Williams, Gilda Radner, and Molly Shannon to name a few. Their pain informed their comedy and it’s what made it so relatable and so cathartic.