The new SNL season premiered last night — and aside from Kanye West’s strange performances (culminating in his MAGA-hat-wearing finale number) was, start to finish, terrific. Here in my house, we laughed a lot.
We were laughing, in part, cathartically. We needed to laugh as a way to release the incredible tension. But the laughter wasn’t completely therapeutic. It was angry, too. There were notes of righteous indignation and bitterness — because we live in a time when the Truth is being flat out ignored.
We live during a soft coup d’etat. During Cyber War while a hostile foreign power dominates us because one of our two political parties has been completely compromised by them.
There’s a lot to be angry and bitter about. And one way we ‘deal’ with that is through laughter. It’s a coping mechanism. But laughter also is a way that a culture defines itself, its boundaries, its quirks, its contradictions and idiosyncrasies. We laugh at our hypocrisy and sanctimony. We laugh, in a way, to self-critique.
Well, some of us do.
Others laugh as a way to belittle. Their laughter doesn’t ever sound joyful or delighted. It always has dark, threatening notes to it.
Perhaps it’s because of what exactly those people are laughing at. For one thing — it’s never themselves that they’re laughing at. That’s a tell.
People incapable of laughing at themselves are people without an actual sense of humor. Not all laughter is caused by things that are funny.
If you think about last night’s SNL — and why it was so funny to so many people — it’s because it was aiming squarely at things we all know are TRUE. It’s the way they attacked the Truth that made us all laugh. TRUTH lies at the core of comedy.
(Often) painful Truth.
But a person laughing at, say, another person’s physical disability or handicap — isn’t laughing so much at a ‘truth’ as at the person with the disability or handicap; they’re not laughing at how unfair the universe is, they’re laughing at the fact that this person has this problem — and they don’t. They’re laughing AT ‘the other’ — a person ‘unlike’ them for whatever reason.
When a group of people — with no sense of humor — begin laughing at ‘the other’ you get mobs. You get fascists. You get Nazi Germany. You get white supremacists. You get Donald Trump.
Want to know who’s who & what’s what in America today? Look at who was laughing at SNL last night. Who was laughing with it.
And who wasn’t laughing at all…