Saturday, April 22, 2006

The War on Comedy

If you have not read them, see these posts for an introduction to Comedism, the new religion; passages from The Comedist Manifesto, our holy book; Comedist support for evolution and gay marriage; and how Comedism was founded.

This week's sermon: The War on Comedy

Fellow Comedists,

While we work to spead our message of joy and laughter across the planet, there are dark, unfunny forces opposing us. Yes, there is a war on comedy. But we cannot let them win. We must be vigilant in doing the work of the Cosmic Comic. We will prevail.

It is not the secularists we are worried about, no, they tend to be a pretty funny lot by in large. No, the war on comedy is being waged by the fundamentalists. Don't let the "fun" part fool you friends, there is nothing fun about the war they are waging against us.

The central concept in Comedism is the joke. Think about how 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 multi-faceted place and it is the appreciation of these distinct perspectives, even ones that seem irreconsilable, 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. This is why fundamentalists are not funny and why they have declared a war on Comedy.

But we will not stand by and let them try to eliminate humor, joy, and laughter. No. We must be funny. And so I will leave you with this joke:

Sol Rosenberg dies and his soul appears before the pearly gates. There was a book and behind the book stood Saint Peter. "Oh no," Sol wails, "All this time I was a good Jew and now this happens. Just my luck." "Calm down, Sol," Peter says, "All that really matters is that you have lived a good and caring life, and you have, so I am pleased to welcome you into heaven." "Thank you so much," Sol replies.

St. Peter leads Sol down a long hallway with many, many doors. "Excuse me for asking," says Sol, "but what are all of these doors for?" St. Peter explained that each door led to a different room in heaven and that each religion had their own room.

"Which one is this?" asked Sol. "That is for Catholics," St. Peter said. "I hate to ask," said Sol, "but my son married a Catholic and his in-laws were such lovely people before they passed away. Would you mind if I just said hello?" "Of course not," said St. Peter.

After a few minutes, Sol emerged and they continued down the hall. "And what door is that?" asked Sol. "That is the atheist room." "I feel terrible for asking, but when I had my shop, the fellow next to me was an atheist, and..." "Please," said "St. Peter, motioning towards the door, "It is no problem at all."

After greeting his friend, Sol and St. Peter continued down the hallway. After a little while, St. Peter stopped Sol and motioned for him to be quiet and walk very softly. "We must not make a sound," St. Peter whispered. The crept slowly and silently along until they stopped in front of a door down the way. "Here you go, welcome to the Jewish heaven," said St. Peter. "Thank you very much," said Sol, "but I must ask. Why did we have to be so quiet when passing that one door?" St. Peter rolled his eyes and said, "That's the fundamentalists, they think they're the only ones up here."