Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Every joke contains some truth and some mocking

2 May 2018


In the Netflix series La Casa de Papel (my 2018 blog), the thief Berlin says: every joke contains some truth and some nastiness, else it wouldn’t be funny. This remark clung to my mind. Indeed, many jokes are mocking certain (true) generic characteristics of segments of society (eg, men, minorities, physical appearance, race, religion, sexuality, women).

Essentially, the (court) jester – or fool – did exactly the same. Wiki: “Much of the entertainment was performed in a comic style and many jesters made contemporary jokes in word or song about people or events well known to their audiences. [] Jesters could also give bad news to the King that no one else would dare deliver.” The word “fool” gets a different meaning in this context.

To a large extent, stand-up comedians are similar to the (court) jesters in the days of the Egyptian pharaohs and the ancient Romans (ie, balatro). The audience pays to be entertained with nasty jokes at the expense of people who are well-known to the audience. Famous jesters were Till Eulenspiegel (Germany) and Will Sommers (England). Eddy Murphy is a contemporary version.

Proverbs tell the importance of jokes within society:

– A joke is often the hole through which truth whistles. (Japan)

– Always tell the truth in the form of a joke. (Armenia)

– Marry for money, my little sonny, a rich man’s joke is always funny. (Hebrew)

– He that jokes confesses. (Italy)

– Do not make jokes that cost more than a ruble. (Russia)

– If I am seen, I am joking; if I am not seen, I steal. (Germany)

These proverbs also suggest that jokes were – and perhaps still are – different for the poor and the rich. Jokes and laughter seem to be the social response to a wealth gap in society. The Book of Proverbs of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament states in Proverb 17:22 (NLT): “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

Hence, jokes and laughter are a medicine to society and also a tool to forget your misery and misfortune, if only for a moment. It’s interesting that laughter has a physiological similarity with crying/tears. Hence, the saying tears of joy. Also see my 2016 blog on Teardrops.

Huffington Post-2014: “An old Yiddish proverb says, “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” Everyone knows that laughter makes you feel good and puts you in high spirits, but did you also know that laughter actually causes physiological responses that protect the body from disease and help your vital organs repair themselves?”

Some jokes by Will Rogers (1879-1935): (1) I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. (2) Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke. (3) The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected. (4) With Congress, every time they make a joke it’s a law, and every time they make a law it’s a joke.

The Joker (1973) by Steve Miller Band – artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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