The Importance of Humor Essay Example
Even though society has evolved to become more progressive and polarized, humor and satire have stood the test of time and are commonplace in virtually every culture. From 17th-century plays to 21st-century memes, humor not only entertains but also incites change in the world. In the book Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton claims that humor allows one to convey messages that could not be directly stated in conventions. In the present, comedians such as Dave Chapelle and television programs like The Daily Show have been able to use humor to actually bring to light issues that many individuals may not even be aware of. As a result, humorists, through literature, political cartoons, and television shows, are necessary in order for people to talk about societal issues.
In current media, The Daily Show, a popular late-night comedy show that examines news stories in politics, entertainment, pop culture, and sports, has been able to put comedic spins on newsworthy topics that may not be covered or need to be heard by their viewers. The correspondents on the show, which have included Jon Stewart, Hasan Minhaj, and Stephen Colbert, have used their platforms to enact real change by bringing topics of their personal interest to light. For example, Jon Stewart went viral after giving a fiery speech to Congress for the renewal of the September 11th Victim Fund. The fund helps those injured and sick from being at ground zero on September 11th and the events that happened after. This fund was personal for Jon as he lost many friends during the attacks and believed Congress members needed to talk about this tragic event. Accordingly, Jon Stewart addressed a mostly empty Congress by using a metaphor “Behind me, a filled room of first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Shameful!” This moment was captured by many news outlets and went viral in a matter of minutes. After seeing the overwhelming response from those outraged by the lack of support for the first responders, Congress was able to swiftly renew the relief fund before it expired. This would not have happened if Jon Stewart did not have the cache to be heard by people. Another former correspondent on The Daily Show, Hasan Minhaj, uses his own comedic style to speak about multiple topics that may be unknown to most Americans In his Netflix show Patriot Act, he covers a range of topics, including workers rights in the video gaming industry, censorship in China, and affirmative action. In his episode on the drug epidemic in the United States, he shows the devastating effects of fentanyl as compared to opioids and heroin by comparing it to the income of three members of Destiny’s Child (with Beyonce representing fentanyl), much to the amusement of his audience. These comedians use humor to entertain, but also to spread awareness about current events and promote their audience to think about complex topics. Botton’s claim is correct because without these comedians, the relief fund would not have been renewed or the effects of fentanyl in America would not have been discussed.
Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal demonstrates the importance of humor in order to compel people to talk about societal issues such as poverty. Swift’s satiric argument highlights the lack of solutions to address the economic situations in Ireland. Some Englishmen have provided proposals to address the poverty in Ireland but they were unreasonable and could not be achieved. Swift mocks these proposals and offers his own proposal— eating impoverished children. Swift states that this proposal will decrease the population, take the burden off of parents, and makes these children beneficial to the public. Although this proposal is anything but modest, it made people understand the severity of the crisis that faces Ireland. Humor was the only way to bring attention to this issue and got people to talk about Ireland’s condition. Botton’s claim that humor is vital to society is shown through Swift’s essay. If Swift wrote this essay with a solemn tone, many would not have taken the time to read it. This paper would have been lost. However, Swift’s use of satire allowed him to bring a large audience to his writing and encourage England to think of viable ways to help Ireland. This paper also addresses the unfair treatment of landlords to poorer families. Swift claims that these children will be especially meaningful to these landlords who harass their parents. The humoristic take of Swift allows the public to understand complex issues and talk about these issues in hopes of finding solutions to better society.
For centuries, political cartoons have been used in a satiric manner to spark changes in the world. The famous King Andrew the First cartoon shows Andrew Jackson wearing a royal cape and crown with his foot on a ripped-up copy of the constitution. This political cartoon takes a humoristic approach that portrays Jackson as a king. Many were afraid that Jackson’s leadership was straying away America’s democracy. His unwillingness to consult with other parties before making decisions and his use of political power to veto acts scared many Americans and made Jackson look like a tyrant. The humor within this image allowed many Americans to rethink the actions taken by their leader and become more critical of his actions. Just a few years earlier, the American colonies were ruled by the England monarch. Displaying Jackson as a king reminded Americans of England’s rule. The colonies won their independence and having a president who acts like a king undermines America’s freedom. Other political cartoons such as Jim Crow and the Only One Barred Out highlight racial issues for African Americans and Chinese Americans. These political cartoons lead people to start talking about unfair treatment based on race and helped progress American society to equality. These cartoons lead people to understand racism and helped encourage people to speak up for equality. After these cartoons were published activists gained support and in the late 1900s, Jim Crow laws and the Chinese Exclusion Act were repealed.