Jesus laughed ’till he cried: Why comedy is the conscience of news

American politics and economics are so horrible today, we can only bear to face this reality if we can laugh. Otherwise, we would be screaming all the time.

Comedy enables us to break through the spin to find the funny, and, curiously, to find the truth in all its tragedy and pathos.

John Fugelsang is a stand-up comic who has taken over the “Viewpoint” cable program on Current TV.  He also has takes over where Colbert and Stewart leave off; this is biting comedy with actual news.

I have become a repeat guest and regular viewer of John Fugelsang’s “Viewpoint” on Current TV.  I was recently a guest on the show, talking with John about Paul Ryan’s “Rapture” budget where the poor and middle class get “Left Behind” in the conservatives’ economic literalism.

Funny? Sort of, but also frankly the truth. Conservatives think those who are being “Left Behind” in this economy deserve their economic misfortune–they are the “47%” sinners.

Comedy helps you see the contradictions and foibles in the world (and in yourself!) in a way that doesn’t totally turn you off. Comedy is rooted in the human capacity for self-transcendence. Comedy is one way we can actually see ourselves in all our stupid will-to-power stunts and our foolish grasping after a certainty that does not exist.

But then, once you “see” that the world is full of contradictions, what are you going to do about it? For this, you can do no better than to read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

No wonder Jesus laughed until he cried.

About Susan Thistlethwaite

I am President Emerita and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary; I write for the public here and in local papers. I am interested in what I call "public theology," or how deeper meaning is made and contested in the public square.
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