Now humour is a funny thing! What is humorous to one person leaves another stone cold wondering what other people are laughing at. It is both very subjective and cultural but to be truly human is to have some humour. Perhaps it is the sixth sense unique to humans who can be amused in a way that sets them apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Whilst hyenas, monkeys and rats can sometimes be described as laughing there is no genuine evidence that it is due to humour – at best it seems to be merely physical behaviour. You may hear some people making the sound of laughter but that too can be mere physical behaviour! Take two apples, one carrot, a banana and a floppy hat – some will smile, others will give a blank stare or just see a fruit salad ... best to keep that under your hat! But find the switch for any person and you might get anything from a chuckle to a gut-wrenching uncontrollable belly laugh.
- ‘Laughter crosses boundaries of class and age. Humour is universal’ – Jeremy Lloyd
- ‘Humour has always been a self-defence mechanism for me’ – Brooke Shields
- ‘Life is hard. It is not too short, it is too long. But you have to learn how to live; you have to have a sense of humour’ – Carolina Herrera
- ‘If you don't have humour, then you may as well nail the coffin lid down now’ – Roger Moore
Some people make a living out of humour though not everyone would call them comedians! Clive Greenaway won a world record in 2015 for telling 32 jokes in a minute, many of them having a humorous twist. For humour can come from the sublime to the ridiculous, the play on a word to the absurd or a visual slapstick. Irony can be kind or unkind – laughter at someone else’s expense can be ridicule rather than humour and cause pain for the butt of the joke. Humour can be an outlet for pain which might explain why some of the funniest people are known to have suffered with depression – people like Woody Allen, Jim Carrey, Stephen Fry, Sarah Silverman, Robin Williams and Ruby Wax.
- ‘There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be. Time is the best teacher, unfortunately, it kills all of its students’ – Robin Williams
- ‘No man can be an agnostic who has a sense of humour’ – E M Forster
So here’s a question to consider: does God have a sense of humour? If we’re made in the image of God with the capacity for love and forgiveness, why would it not include the gift of humour? Whilst all of God’s created animals have design features for a reason, some of them do make us smile. Think of the giraffe’s long neck which is so useful for those leaves in the trees but along with camels, elephants, penguins and kittens, their expressions and actions can be very funny. Or take a fluffy teddy bear of an animal with one long finger and huge green eyes – the aye aye! Jesus is the image of the invisible God and some of his parables included humour such as the idea of a camel passing through the eye of a needle or a judgemental person walking around with a wooden plank in the eye! If Jesus wept and people were drawn to him, why would he not have laughed with his disciples, for he was fully human and fully divine? People have been known to appear ‘drunk’ and be abounding in joy and even laughter when filled with the Holy Spirit. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift – He is not inanimate, insensate or a lifeless idol but is the very essence of life and joy. By inference rather than biblical line and verse, it’s hard to conclude that humour is not part of humans being made in the image of God.
The Bishop of Manchester told his BBC Radio 4 audience in 2020 what he most wanted when he got to heaven. It may surprise you but it’s an interesting answer to a question he was asked: his answer was, ‘to hear God laugh’! That takes some imagining but it is a thrilling thing to consider. To see the funny side of things can be a great release but it might mean getting in touch with the child within and humbling oneself:
- ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me’ – Matthew 18:3-5
- ‘My comedy is for children from three to 93. You do need a slightly childish sense of humour and if you haven't got that, it's very sad’ – Norman Wisdom
- ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things’ – Philippians 4:8
Enjoy and share God-given gifts wherever possible – things that are innocent and funny are things of a good report to share and bless others.
TAGS – sorrow, sadness, medicine, hilarity, encouragement, healing