Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finding Humor in Struggle

Joshland Note - There will be a lot of tangents, to-do lists and requests that will require an abundance of your time and energy to make it through this blog post. Do what you must to prepare for this undertaking so you can fully absorb my thought process. 

I normally avoid this kind of gossip column trash-talking that's promoted for website traffic and publicity, but this article from OMG! Yahoo stirred up a little fire in my belly:
...
Rex Reed is refusing to back down in his ongoing feud with actress Melissa McCarthy. The New York Observer film critic, who penned a scathing review [where he refers to McCarthy as "tractor-sized, a "female hippo," and a "screeching, humongous creep"] of her role in No. 1 comedy Identity Thief earlier this year, is standing by his offensive statements, he tells Us Weekly.
"I can only repeat what I have said before -- that I do not have, nor have I ever had, anything personal against people who suffer from obesity," he wrote to Us in an email. "What I object to is the disgusting attempt to pretend obesity is funny. It is not remotely humorous, and every obese comedian who ever made jokes about the disease are now dead from strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. As a critic whose opinions are constitutionally protected by law, I stand by all of my original remarks about Melissa McCarthy's obesity, which I consider about as amusing as cancer, and apologize for nothing."
...
While Rex Reed is well within his rights to say what he wants (YAY! Freedom of speech in 'Murica!), that means it's within my right to call him a smug, pretentious and mean-spirited ass who has no business waging a personal attack on Melissa McCarthy or her physical appearance. His "job" is to critique the movie and the performance of the actors. If the movie is terrible or she does a crappy job, then say that and only that because the harsh critique on her physical appearance has nothing to do with her chops as an actor. Now that I've got that off my chest, let's look at this particular part of his comment:

"...every obese comedian who ever made jokes about the disease are now dead from strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes."

There are two things that Mr. Reed has completely lost sight of:

1. Self-deprecating humor is often a HUGE part of surviving the most unenviable circumstances. It's called a coping mechanism. 

I have no idea if Melissa McCarthy's comedy comes from personal insecurities about her weight. Based on the quotes I've read from her, she seems VERY secure with who she is. 
BUT...even if she has those insecurities and chooses to play them up in her comedic roles, that's her prerogative BECAUSE...

2. The essence of comedy comes from living through or observing a part of human existence—be it tragic, triumphant or quirky—and then nit-picking it down to the smallest detail until you find a morsel of humor that's relatable to an audience. It's an absolute given that not everyone will think something is funny because comedy and entertainment are subjective things. Here's the solution: If you don't like it, then don't watch it. That's the greatest statement you can make against something you dislike. Don't give it any publicity.

I talked about the above in order to seamlessly segue back into the subject of self-deprecating humor. People have asked me how I've survived all the hardship in my life. While there are a number of things that have helped me—a great support system, tolerance and acceptance of others and allowing myself to feel all my emotions when I need to—the greatest thing I've ever done to cope is maintain my sense of humor.

At this time, I must request that you do a multitude of things for me:

• Read these quotes:

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”

~ Bill Cosby

"I intend to live forever, or die trying." ~ Groucho Marx

•  Listen to act one of last October's "This American Life" episode entitled  'What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger', where comedian Tig Notaro copes with her cancer diagnosis— and a host of other tragic  life events within the span of 4 months—by doing a stand up show eight days after her diagnosis. 

Joshland Note -  It's 13 minutes long and it's worth every minute of it, especially if you're going to understand the rest of this blog post. A lot of the humor is appropriately dark, so be prepared for that before you listen.

 • Watch her absurdly brilliant and much lighter appearance on Conan O'Brien:



• Download and listen to her funny and honest hour long conversation on the Nerdist Podcast during your commute to and from work. She really gets into some intimate and wonderful details about the importance of carrying on and having a great support system. (Some swearing and sexual/crude humor. Not safe for work.)

• Read this hilarious article from comedy publisher "The Onion" and tell me this isn't a genius interpretation of Mad Libs for any one who has dealt with a chronic illness or tragedy.

"Man Dies After Secret 4-Year Battle With Gorilla"

• I—like so many other people on our planet—have lost people I love to so many monstrously horrible things...Cancer, cystic fibrosis, car accidents, heart disease, etc...and yet, I can still find humor in sadness. Examples:

Days before my sister died, she was talking to some visitors and the conversation somehow turned to heaven, the afterlife and death...to which she said (and I'm paraphrasing here because I was not in the room for this moment and it's one of the biggest regrets of my life and I trust my sources):

"When I get to heaven, I want to be six feet tall with huge boobs like Marilyn Monroe."

Hilarious! Love my sister! 

• When I die, there will be a point when one or several of my friends will say an interpretation of this classic line from the Princess Bride:




"(Well, Josh is )All dead...and ,well, with all dead there's only one thing to do...go through his pockets and look for loose change."

People will probably be offended, but I'll be laughing my ass off...hopefully from heaven. I hope you do to because if you cannot find humor in struggle, then my heart is broken for you. 

I hope you all find that laughter that I believe we all desperately need.

Peaceful and Humorous Things,

Josh

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