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  • Writer's pictureMichael Cundall Jr.

Pandemic Humor

I don't know about you but 2020 is one of the weirdest years I've experienced and we're only halfway through. Life feels disjointed. With many of us spending more time at home, it feels strange to have all of our life in one place, work, school, fun, family, boredom, laughs, and lest we forget laundry Even in a pandemic, laundry is always there for us. It's like everything is there all the time and then none of the time. We used to complain about work and our workplaces, and now many of us long to go back. Humans! Am I right?

One of the more interesting things about the pandemic for me has been the humor. Almost as soon as people started sheltering in, the jokes started coming out. The now all too common not wearing pants while in virtual meetings, or the silly comments "accidentally" shared to the whole group, or the fact that our children were not, in fact, joys to teach were out in force. These jokes became staples early on. While they are perhaps a touch overused, they're not bad. It's us joking about the new existence we found and how we were or were not coping. Truth is, I don't know how my family is coping, but I shudder to try and compare it to others. I wish I was exercising more and getting up earlier. But I ain't: so much the worse for the waistline.

This sort of humor is probably fairly typical. We make fun of and joke about the newness of things, how it interrupts our lives. These jokes and memes are ways of laughing at the silliness we see and maintaining some sense of humor, some sense of fun. But slowly, the humor began to change. The length of the social distancing time is growing and in the US we sadly are seeing an overall increase in the numbers of COVID-19 cases. Our sense of when this will end has changed. The internet has made it easy to get confused and angry. So anxiety has arisen. But humor has remained.

The humor has changed in certain ways. It's a little darker, and little more cynical. It's clearly becoming more of a gallows humor feel out there. Neither carefree humor nor the gallows humor is better than the other. They are just reflecting certain preoccupations. A favorite researcher I know once said about jokes, "Blaming a joke for a social condition is about as helpful as smashing a thermostat for telling you the temperature of the room." For me, I find both forms of humor good. When we can joke and laugh about stuff, even the darkest of topics, it helps the self shake off the restrictions those things put into our lives. It's an act of the self rebelling against the world. Would I choose a world free of the pandemic? Absolutely. But since that's not the world we have, I am happier knowing there are those out there that can joke about it--that I can joke and make laughs. That I can share those jokes and laughs with others, if only virtually. It helps me get through these days.

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