Saturday, February 24, 2007

Comedist Basics

Brothers, Sisters, and Transgendered Comedists Everywhere,

I've had people asking me about Comedism this week, so I thought I'd describe the basis of our new religion.

It all started with a couple of experiences in the classroom. The first was when I was teaching a night class in ethics at a local community college. I was drawing the distinction between social mores and ethical precepts when a students raised his hand and asked, "Steve, what are mores?" I looked at him and responded, "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a more." At that moment, I realized that set ups that perfect don't just happen randomly, it had to be humorous divine intervention. I had been touched.

Then a few years later, I was teaching philosophy of religion at the United States Naval Academy when I had my second insight. If you want to go anywhere in the religion industry these days, you have to be either Mother Teresa or Pat Robertson -- and neither seemed attractive career paths. But when you look at a number of those who are most exalted, they fit neither model. Abraham pimps out his wife to the Egyptian army, the disciples quarrel and quibble about everything. How'd these guys end up on the fast track to sanctification? They figured out the trick...get in early. So I realized that my only option was to start own religion.

Pondering this, I was teaching the tradition Christian arguments for the existence of God and realized that if the All-Being was to be all perfect, the traditional criteria of all powerful, all loving, and all knowing were insufficient...there was a perfect left out...all funny. Would you prefer to be with someone who had a good sense of humor or no sense of humor? Surely a perfect being would be omnihumorous! Yet nowhere in the traditional scriptures of the major religions could you find any real zingers. Not even a "Knocketh, Knocketh" joke. And so Comedism was born, I realized it was my job to hear the calling and spread wide the funny news.

Metaphysical Beliefs
The basic beliefs of Comedism are not that different from other religions. Life is fleeting and a test for the hereafter. Like the Buddhists, we believe that on Earth you strive for a state of bodilessness. You can foresee this nirvana in the sort of full out belly laugh that you get from a really good joke. When you laugh so hard that your spirit is ultimately joyful, but your sides ache, you can't breathe, you roll around on the floor unable to stand, you realize that it is the humorous soul and not the things of the body that are important.

When you die, like Christians, we believe your soul goes up and there before the pearly gates stands Saint Shecky with his big book. Each of us is given a number of set ups during our life times and for all those, like "that's a more," that you convert into jokes, you get one mark in the good column. But then there are those you miss. Years ago, I was walking and a couple looked at me strangely. Before they passed the man said to me, "Didn't we just see you with a dog?" I simply reply, "I'm sorry, you must have me confused with someone else." But as they were walking away, I realized the correct response was to retort indignantly, "Excuse me, that was my wife." I had blown a set up. It was one in the bad column. When you are judged, if there are more in the good column than in the bad column, you go to Comedy heaven and sit at Groucho's right hand. If there are more in the missed than made column, you go to comedy hell where it is always hot, water is only in dribble glasses, all the chairs have whoopee cushions, and you have to watch reruns of Three's Company over and over again for all of eternity.

We believe that the key to acting well is understanding the nature of the joke. Jokes have two parts, a set up in which a normal situation you think you understand is sketched (a chicken crosses a street or the pope, a rabbi, and a Viagra salesman walk into a bar) and then the punchline that forces you radically rethink how you understood the world of the set up (to get to the other side or at least the beer isn't flat anymore). The humor exists in that moment when your brain is split, trying unsuccessfully to resolve the tension between the two incompatible interpretations. The very possibility of a joke presupposes that reality may always be looked at in more than one way. We must see life as a great joke -- there are always perspectives other than our own and we must strive to get the joke by adopting other people's perspectives. As such, it is impossible for there to be Comedist fundamentalists -- a fundamentalist is someone who takes a literal interpretation of scripture, someone who denies that there can be multiple legitimate interpretations, but this is impossible for a Comedist who believes from the start that there are ALWAYS multiple interpretations of everything or else it wouldn't be funny.

We believe in spreading joy. We believe in overcoming pride through self-deprecation. We believe through the symbol of the banana peel that nature provides and must be protected. We believe in gay marriage because "take my civilly united domestic partner" really screws up the timing. We believe that April 1st is the holiest day of the year. And we believe that Cosmic Comedist has revealed the universal joke in our Holy Skripture, the Comedist Manifesto (well, at least that he will since I haven't gotten around to writing most of it anyway).

All you have to do to join is to sing the chorus the next time it comes around...with feelin'. Comedism is a simple religion to convert to, just say you are in and you are. And remember, if you get in early, fast-track to sainthood...

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve