A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Thank God for Laughter

Bill Farrelly

by Bill Farrelly

I NEED, so am I told occasionally, to lighten up. That being the case, today I’m going to visit one of my favourite subjects: God and laughter.

Do you laugh often? If you live, and not by preference, on your own or you live with someone who tends to weigh you down it can be really difficult, can’t it? It’s especially hard if you take an interest in what’s happening in the world because most of the news is pretty grim. I’m sure you have heard this before but it’s a fact: good news doesn’t sell newspapers.

I worked as a journalist for most of my life and one of the ways we would cope with all the horror was to use black humour – politically incorrect in the extreme but it enabled us to get the job done.

I wonder who among Jesus’ companions had the best sense of humour? I wonder whether Jesus himself ever played a practical joke?  

It seems to be accepted belief nowadays that Jesus only gradually became aware that he was God and that therefore – I’m making an assumption here – he likewise only gradually became conscious of his powers.

Imagine the fun he might have had.

I can just picture him and Joseph in Joe’s shed out the back and Joe telling him to sweep the floor and the next thing you see is this broom merrily going about its business with Jesus sitting there thinking that, sometimes, life’s a ball.

I wonder how Joseph might have reacted. After his intitial shock he might have burst out laughing in delight. That might in turn have prompted Mary to call out from the kitchen that if they had time to sit around laughing they could come and give her a hand to prepare dinner, at which point she might have almost had a heart attack when the vegetables began to peel themselves.

You probably think I’m a screw lose and you might be right. But let’s be honest, if Jesus could walk on water and raise the dead, having a broom sweep or a potato undress would surely be a piece of cake.

What I find interesting is that God has given us this sense of humour. It might be well and truly buried in some of us but it’s there if we do a little digging and it’s a great cure for loneliness or depression or anger. Come to think of it, it’s also great when you’re in pain – provided that you haven’t broken your ribs, of course.

A few years ago I was struggling to lighten up so I enrolled in a laughter and humour workshop. 

It was run by a woman called Helene Grover – you can find her at this website  http://www.laughterstrategies.com/ - and it was one of the funniest days of my life.

Among other things, she gave us a series of tools to work with and one of them particularly tickled my fancy: talking in gibberish. This is a great way of handling stress or telling your boss or spouse off. It works particularly well if you both agree to employ the same tactic. One of the keys is to keep the emotion level low. Try it.

Another great idea, and this can really take the heat out of a situation, is to imagine that the person who is causing you serious angst is wearing a pooey nappy. The danger of course is that you’ll burst out laughing and if that happens to be most inappropriate you might find yourself in deep, er, trouble. Good luck.

There were numerous other suggestions to lighten up. Wearing funny hats or funny noses has never been comfortable for me but the idea of wearing outrageous underwear has some appeal.

Perhaps the loveliest thing about laughter and humour is that we can share it with others and lighten their load. I guess that could be the main reason God gave it to us.

I’m hopeless at remembering jokes but just occasionally I manage to hang on to one that really tickles my fancy.

Laughter and humour. They’re like sunshine and flowers.   

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