Laugh, Baby, Laugh

I love the concept of the “Smash Shack” the store opened in San Diego, where according to CBS News, victims of the credit crisis are taking out their frustrations by buying fragile objects and hurling them against the wall.

I haven’t got to that place mentally myself. But nonetheless I think the “Smash Shack’s” basic premise – the idea that we all need some form of release from the unbearable tension of these times is correct.

For me – and apparently millions of others – that comes either in escapist television (I’ve already mentioned my addiction to True Blood on this site) but mostly it comes in the form of laughter. I find myself laughing at the smallest things these days – a line in the paper; my son’s school report; anything to distract me from the ghastly news.

I noticed that Paul Krugman’s recent column in the New York Times that Obama is winning because of the “seriousness” of his campaign as opposed to what Krugman perceives as the “trivialities” of McCain’s.

This may well be true. People don’t want a joker for a President. We’ve just had one of those, with results that defy belief. The other night a group of friends and I were discussing the mentality of a serial killer: what it would be like to push all of society’s boundaries until inevitably you’d be caught – and, suddenly, I realized that’s exactly what George W. Bush has done. He’s pushed the envelope at home, and abroad until the world is on the state of collapse. Now he’s been caught – but too late. The devastation he has inflicted may take years to fix.

But meanwhile how are we to cope through this crisis if we are not smashing glasses? Paul Krugman makes a further interesting point in today’s column. He talks about 9/11 and reminds us that at the time of the horrendous attacks, people said we’d never laugh again, but, in fact, we did – and fast.

This is because laughing is a necessary part of the human psyche. It’s essential to put things into perspective. Yes, the world is in a disastrous state, but if you find no humor in your lives or funny situations, then you are in a tragic state of mental imbalance. Yes, you may face losing your job, your home…but you are still alive and there is still something to fight for. An election is on the horizon and who knows what changes that will bring?

Hopefully you still have friends, family…there is always someone worse off than you. Think of poor Jennifer Hudson, finding her dead mother and brother and missing nephew. Think of Anne Pressly, that beautiful 26-year-old news anchor from Arkansas, killed possibly because of a tiny cameo as a Republican in the film of W.

The latter in particular is a sign that right now we – just as much as our leadership -are mentally imbalanced, victims of fear-mongering, that we journalists must partly take responsibility for.

That’s why I am glad CNN has just brought in D L Hughley to satirize the news; I’m glad SNL’s audience figures have gone through the roof, as have Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s.

Tina Fey is a godsend. Sarah Palin may be a living nightmare as vice-presidential candidate – but unless you can see the funny side of a woman who sees Russia from her bedroom window, who sells herself as a hockey mom but buys designer labels and who fires her pesky ex brother-in-law over a divorce, then you are living in a destabilizing nightmare. And it’s time you woke up and believed in yourself and tomorrow. You will get through this. Sarah Palin is a joke. So don’t cry; laugh. Just don’t vote for her. V

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