Friday, March 11, 2011

on the importance of comedy

Bear with me on the provenance of this: I subscribe to a daily newsletter called A Word A Day, which provides an email every Monday through Friday with an interesting word. Many are obscure; some are polysyllabic (and many aren't); most weeks the wards are related, and it's the relationship that is highlighted and celebrated. I enjoy it, and the price is right.

Anu Garg, the guy who makes it up, includes a quote of the day. He's one of the small number of people in the universe who's more left-wing than I, so even on days when I'm not that impressed by the word, I look for the quote.

Today's was from Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame, about the importance of comedy to a culture:

At least one way of measuring the freedom of any society is the amount of comedy that is permitted, and clearly a healthy society permits more satirical comment than a repressive, so that if comedy is to function in some way as a safety release then it must obviously deal with these taboo areas. This is part of the responsibility we accord our licensed jesters, that nothing be excused the searching light of comedy. If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted. -Eric Idle, comedian, actor, and author

Makes sense to me. It also helps clarify that unease and discomfort I get when somebody says something is too sacred to make jokes about.

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