Saturday, October 08, 2011

Comedist Anti-Fundamentalism

My Fellow Comedists,

A bit of theology this weekend.

The central concept in Comedism is the joke. Think about how most jokes work. There are two parts to a joke. First comes the set up that makes you think about some situation in a particular way. A chicken crosses the road; the Pope, a rabbi, and a Viagra salesman walk into a bar..., some possible world is sketched for you, a scene that you think you understand.

Then comes the punchline -- "to get to the other side" or "well, at least my beer is no longer flat." What makes the punchline funny is the incongruity that it forces upon you. You now must make sense of the situation from the set-up in a completely different way. The humor exists in that moment when your brain is struggling to make sense of the two completely different competing scenarios. For a joke to be a joke, there must be more than one way to look at the world.

And that is the central belief of Comedism. There are always different ways to look at reality. The world is a multifaceted place and it is the appreciation of these distinct perspectives, even ones that seem irreconcilable, that makes life rich, interesting, and most of all, funny.

But this is exactly what the fundamentalists of all stripes deny. They think there is one truth and one truth only...and they think that they alone have it. They do not even allow the possibility that there are multiple ways to understand reality.

I was reminded of this foundational doctrine of Comedism this week when a student brought out the old chestnut "the Department of Redundancy Department." Of course, the full address used to be:

The Department of Redundancy Department
Twin Towers
New York, New York

But now, we can't make that joke. Another victim of fundamentalism.

But we need to reclaim our place. So, go out and look at the world in new and exciting ways.

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve