Saturday, November 10, 2007

Commercial Comedy and the Problem of Seriousness

Brothers, Sisters, and Transgendered Comedists Everywhere,

This week a couple of deep philosophico-theological Comedist questions were raised by good brother Hanno -- well, brother Hanno, anyway. So let's consider them both.

Brother Hanno asked,

How can an all perfect God allow unfunny things to happen?
Ah, the Comedist version of the problem of evil. This is a matter of some debate amongst Comedist theologians (or at least will be when there actually are Comedist theologians...) One view is that all Creation is part of a great inside joke that only the Cosmic Comic understands and what we see as unfunny is actually funny to one with infinite humor. Another blames human free will for that which is unfunny. A third view is that a joke requires a set up which is not funny in order for there to be a punchline which is, so that all of the unfunniness you see in the world just proves that reality is not a one-liner. A fourth response is to simply laugh at the person who asked the question.

It was also asked,
What is the status of humor used in commercials? Is it a sin before the comedic God, the use of something holy to feed rampant consumerism? Or is it a mitzvah, making bearable though humor what is a fact of life, the commercialization of everything?
A complex case indeed. On the one hand, we must remember "Render unto Sid Caesar, that which belongs to Caesar, and render unto the Lord that which belongs to the Lord." Only the Cosmic Comic stands outside of all historical context, we limited finite beings must understand that we are to be funny wherever we are. Comedy is not incompatible with capitalism, especially small scale markets where consumer and producer meet face to face. Bargaining, if done well, can be frickin' hilarious (no, no, no, you're supposed to 'aggle).

That said, humor is a powerful weapon that can be used for good or ill. Comedy can be misused to lead people into oppression and large scale corporate capitalism can lead to lives devoid of the joy and laughter that Comedists see as the well-lived human life for all. The idea of a sweatshop, for example, can be pretty funny:
Clerk: And what about this one?
Customer: No, too gym sockish, I was looking for something a little more musky.
But what we've done with the Marianas Islands, for example,is a disgrace and humor used to contribute to or divert concern from this deliberate destruction of human joy and well-being for profit would be very much counter to Comedist teachings.

But, then, there are some really really funny commercials. I've found some of the "Need to get away?" spots particularly amusing. What do you in the congregation think are the funniest commercials ever?

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve