All posts by Bonnie Black

Humor Me

I love a guy with a great sense of humor — maybe because I’m not overly endowed with one myself. I’ve been accused of being too serious all my life. My baby pictures proved it.

This is why I’m so in love with today’s late-night TV comedians, especially Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Myers, Trevor Noah, plus, my favorite funny man, the singer-satirist Randy Rainbow, who does not (yet) have his own TV show.

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I don’t, of course, stay up late to watch these comics on TV; bedtime for me arrives hours earlier than they come on the air. Instead, I catch up on missed shows by turning to YouTube on my laptop when I’m home during the day sewing or doing housework. There’s nothing like having a laugh-out-loud moment when you’re alone doing dishes at the kitchen sink.

In the case of my beloved Trevor Noah, I sometimes catch whole performances of his on-the-road stand-up comedy. Yesterday, for example, as I was doing long-overdue ironing, I watched (with one eye on the screen and the other on the ironing board) a recent performance he gave in his home country of South Africa. In one of his skits, pacing up and down the stage, seemingly earnestly, he told of a man who was the official sign-language interpreter for South Africa for more than five years.

This South African man, whose name sounded something like “Yankees” to me, was actually a fraud. He didn’t really know how to sign at all. He just made up hand- and face-gestures as he went along. (Hilariously, Trevor mimicked Yankees’ free-form signing.)

Nevertheless, it was Yankees’ job to interpret at all the important political events. “He did sign language for the most powerful people in the world!” Trevor emphasized.

This went on for quite some time, and nobody ever said anything. “Well,” Trevor added, “a few people did complain, but their complaints fell on deaf ears.”

Oh, I know it’s corny, but this made me laugh a lot.

It feels so good – and healthy – to laugh these days. Anyone who’s been paying attention to the news – as we all should, as our civic duty, I believe – has been under immense stress lately. (By “lately” I mean for the past three years.) And few (natural, free, solo) things relieve stress like a good belly laugh.

According to a recent article from the Mayo Clinic titled “Stress Relief from Laughter? It’s No Joke,” “a good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.” Among the short-term stress-relieving benefits they list are these:

  • Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • A good laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure – resulting in a nice, relaxed feeling.
  • Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

As the article notes, laughter “isn’t just a quick pick-me-up.” It’s also good for you over the long term – in improving the immune system, relieving pain, increasing personal satisfaction, and (of course) improving your mood.

This isn’t news to most of us, but applying it daily remains a challenge in the current political — and geopolitical — climate. Thank God, I say, therefore, for the comedians of this world who are (still) able to poke fun at the emperors with no clothes without getting thrown in jail for it — or, worse, “disappeared.”

There are those these days who maintain this is not a time to joke around. What’s happening in the United (united?) States is serious business. The impeachment of a president is serious. Yes. But we on the sidelines must keep our balance, while at the same time not tuning out or turning away from the truths as they are revealed.

Humor can help us keep our balance, in my view. Stephen Colbert’s new regular segment, “Don and the Giant Impeach,” provides a clever and funny-funny spin on what’s happening in the news. And Randy Rainbow’s brilliant political satire is always immensely entertaining. One of his videos in particular, “Desperate Cheeto,” which I’ve watched countless times, makes me sing and dance along with him to the Latin beat. Nothing like laughing, singing, and dancing as you mop the tile floor.

To me, such comedians are godsends, sent to help keep us sane in these crazy-crazy (or, as Randy might say, “cray-cray”) times.