Her humor was raw and crude. When her jokes (and the jokes of comedians like her) don't offend us, we laugh. When we agree with the callused and comical observations, we laugh harder. When a refusal to be politically correct or even kind hits us where we are tender or easily hurt, we tell our friends and teach our kids what not to joke about.
Today when entertainers cross a line that irks us and our personal sensibilities we tweet or post or write long winded explanations and complaints with headlines meant to trigger clicks, shares, and conversation.
Comedians like Joan Rivers help us see ourselves and our incongruity. They help us know what we think is appropriate or inappropriate and remind us: A joke too far in your mind isn't more right or important than a joke to far in the mind of the next guy or gal.
Comedians like Joan Rivers let us see ourselves and our culture while laughing, or while absolutely not laughing. That is a beautiful gift!
Can we talk?
A comedian who uses satire and commentary to say things he or she sees in the world, and to say it without pillows or apology while rarely saying it only for easy laughs, is a kind of hero. It's easy to say mean things that are funny-- "Went on a blind date, because I figured blind people can't read so I'm probably smarter and I like being the smart one, but when I got there and he was a fat old guy in a diaper I wished I was blind, not the date. Then I found out he wasn't even blind, just gross! I didn't stick around, but I'm betting I still would have been the smart one." and it's easy to stay away from controversial topics (aka anything worthwhile... wait, actually pretty much anything!) and be funny--"The difference between men and women is simple: Men don't like talking about their feelings and women's feelings are that they don't like men!" or "Have you tried one of those online dating sites? It's a great way to be rejected multiple times without even leaving the house!" or "Gas prices are so high I started hitchhiking. It's great because I've actually met some of my 70,000 social media friends in real life! You know, they're kinda losers." But to craft and deliver jokes that are fearless and true (to the person who crafts and delivers them) takes guts and a passion for making people laugh.
Joan Rivers had that passion during all of her years, she never grew tired or bored of us and our need for funny.
Joan Rivers and funny people like her are brave, and put themselves out there for our benefit--because we are healthier, happier, stronger and more connected when we laugh. And we should laugh often and loud!
My heart goes out to her family and I make a promise to laugh extra honestly this weekend.
Hugs, smiles, and love!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)