For most of us, this is the most serious time we have ever experienced in our lives.
It is scary, unpredictable and stressful.
And even though it may feel like the end of the world – in fact, because it feels like the end of the world – it’s crucial that we don’t lose our sense of humor.
For those of you who have devoted your life to comedy, now is the time that we have a responsibility to make those around us laugh.
Laughter is healing. You don’t need me to tell you that. You know that already. In fact, if you’re feeling anxious and like you have no control over anything these days, laughter is still one of the best over-the-counter medications you can take.
Last Monday, I watched parts of Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, who were all doing their shows from their homes. I really enjoyed the intimacy, seeing them interact with their children and living by that old show business saying that, “The show must go on.” But what I really appreciated was the humor.
After watching those shows, I had a newfound respect for what they and other nightly comedy shows are doing. It almost seemed as though they are doing us a service. That they realized how important it is to give us some normalcy and to laugh.
OK, where do I fit in?
Yes, most of us improvisers don’t have the same kind of audience we are used to having, at least for the time being. But we do have people around us who need to laugh. They may be our kids, our significant others, the friends we talk to on Zoom, and on the rare occasions that we go out into the real world, the people who work in the stores we scurry in and out of.
Last week when I was paying for my groceries at Jewel, the cashier wanted to know if I was playing their Monopoly game and if I wanted some game pieces. It seems crazy to me that people are still interested in playing this, so I said, “If the prize is a vaccine for the Coronavirus, I’ll play.”
Not my best joke, but I felt good, because I know how important it is to laugh, especially when you’re under a lot of stress, which I’m sure applies to anyone working at a grocery store these days.
I think about one of my favorite TV shows, M*A*S*H, and how the doctors and the staff had to deal with death on a daily basis and how they stayed sane by having a sense of humor.
With everything going on in the world these days, it feels very hard for me to be funny. But I think I need to start trying to make more jokes and be a little sillier, even if I feel like falling apart.
I have heard people say improvisers have been preparing for this pandemic for their whole lives, because we’re trained to be able to adapt to change. What I think we are better at than anyone is finding the funny.
I know most of you are reading this are funny people, so I’m encouraging you to find the funny. We need you more than ever to help us get through this. Your humor can have a positive effect on the world. It makes everything less frightening. So however you can, try to make people laugh. I know I need it. We all do.