ANALYSIS: The importance of humor

Scott Rainey

I don’t have to tell you that laughing is wonderful, but I’m going to anyway: Laughing is wonderful. Weaving humor into our everyday lives invigorates us, relieves stress, stimulates our minds and makes us feel closer to one another. It also helps us look at our own lives in a different way. Here’s a list of the physical benefits of laughter in case you needed a few more reasons to introduce more humor in your life.

Society has afforded us all kinds of things that make us upset. The advent of the internet has allowed us to see some wildly disturbing images and videos, including — but not limited to — clips of Fox News talking about our wondrous and infuriating president, angry people shouting at others about divisive issues, Logan Paul videos and the “In My Feelings” challenge. If we don’t take in our daily dose of madness without a comedic antidote, we’ll lose our minds.

One of the people who embodied this perfectly was Jon Stewart. He was a comedian before he began working on “The Daily Show” in 1999 where he made fun of all things political until 2015, when he retired. His role was to poke fun at politicians and media for saying and doing outlandish things. Stewart quickly became the most trusted man in journalism, and he’ll be the first one to tell you that he’s not even a journalist. He put a humorous twist on some heavy topics, and allowed us not only to relax but also to understand the topics better. He helped us hold a point of view and to find the humor and insanity in seemingly normal, everyday things.

There are a few people who have filled this role since he’s left. Trevor Noah took Stewart’s seat at “The Daily Show,” Seth Meyers has his segment “A Closer Look” and John Oliver hosts “Last Week Tonight.” All of these shows help us make sense of the craziness of politics and media by making us laugh. They are, at their best, incredibly provocative and informative.

This doesn’t mean that political satire is the only form of humor that’s worthwhile. Listening to a comedy podcast or watching stand-up specials on Netflix, no matter how silly, is a great way to relax at the end of the day. Paying money to go to a stand-up show (Shoutout to John Mulaney for coming to Kent) is, in my experience, one of the most cathartic experiences you can have. Nothing beats sitting with a bunch of strangers brought together by the whimsical thoughts of another, more famous stranger. 

If we watch and listen to things that make us laugh a lot, we’ll find the humor in everyday situations much more easily. This makes life much more manageable and more fun. Humor allows us not to worry about the mundane and the petty. Like the late, great comedian George Carlin once said, “don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.”

Scott Rainey is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].