Sunday, April 01, 2012

Happy Saint Shecky's Day!

My Fellow Comedists,

On this, the holiest day of the year for us, Saint Shecky's Day, I bring you greetings and inspiration.

Comedism began when the great Cosmic Comic taught the teacher. I was a younger instructor, teaching just my third class, a night course in ethics, when I was trying to draw a distinction between moral precepts and cultural mores. A student in the front row raised his hand and asked, "Steve, what are mores?" Looking him straight in the eye, I said, "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a more." I knew instantly that set-ups that perfect don't just happen randomly, that was divine comedic intervention. I was in the presence of something bigger, funnier than all of us.

A few years later, I was teaching a class in philosophy of religion at the United States Naval Academy and the topic was Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God which claims that an all-perfect being necessarily exists. By an all-perfect being, he meant all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. But missing from the Judeo-Christian God was the property of being all-funny. Surely, being funny is a virtue, yet nowhere in the Abrahamic holy texts are there any good punchlines, no one-liners, not even a thy-mama joke.

And so I realized that I was being called to start a new religion -- Comedism -- in which that which is holy is that which is funny. Our central tenet is that the universe is a joke and only the righteous shall get it. Jokes have two parts, a set-up and a punchline. The set-up leads you to think of something in one way, but the punchline makes you realize that there was another interpretation, an entirely different way of seeing the situation and the humor is in the mind's futile attempt to rectify these distinct ways of understanding. Our belief that the universe is a joke means that there is ALWAYS more than one way to understand things, there are always different perspectives. Comedism, therefore, can have no fundamentalists who think they have the one and only truth as there is no one and only truth. Wisdom is being able to see things simultaneously in multiple ways, with multiple meanings. That is how to live the good life, the holy life.

And when that life is over, your soul ascends to the pearly gates and there behind them stands Saint Shecky with the great book of judgment. Throughout your life, you are provided with a number of set-ups. Those, like "that's a more" that you make into jokes count in your favor. But those you miss... A time later, I was out taking a walk and was working my way up a big hill when a couple passed me in the other direction. They both looked at me funny and when we were within speaking distance, the man said to me, "Didn't we just see you with a dog?" I said no, that he must have me mistaken for someone else, but as they continued on past me, I realized that the correct answer was "Excuse me, THAT was my wife." I had missed it. The universe gave me the chance, and I blew it. That counts as one against. Saint Shecky has the tally and if you've made more jokes than you missed, you are welcomed in to sit at Groucho's right hand. If you've missed more than you made, you are sent to comedy hell where it is hot and all water is in dribble glasses, all chairs have whoopie cushions, and you are forced to watch reruns of Three's Company for all of eternity.

Our holy book, of course, is the Comedist Manifesto. You may read excerpts here and here. Unlike other religions, we believe in gay marriage because we don't think it's prpoer to deprive our gay and lesbian members of mother-in-law jokes and because "Take my civilly united, legally recognized, domestic partner, please" just really destroys the timing.

People ask me whether I'm serious about Comedism being a religion. I tell them, of course not, if I was serious, it wouldn't be holy. So, for those who are already practicing Comedists, happy Saint Shecky's Day. For those who would wish to join us, everyone is welcome, just be funny.

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve