Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Autism Answer: On The Power Of Joking

"Laughter is joy percolating." ~Lynette Louise, The Brain Broad

Because my mom is both a comedian and an international mental health and brain expert (Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad) I know a few smart things about jokes. 

I came across this fun little article (Married Role-Play from The New Yorker) in my news feed. I have some thoughts.


The Plumber
HUSBAND: So, what seems to be the problem, Miss?
WIFE: My drain is clogged. Clogged bad.
HUSBAND: Oh, yeah? Well, let me see if I can un-clog it.
WIFE: You really think this is a job you can handle?
HUSBAND: There’s no job I can’t handle.
WIFE: (scoffs)
WIFE: I’m just thinking about the porch you’ve been promising to stain for literally a year now.
HUSBAND: Jesus, what the hell does the porch have to do with this?
WIFE: It has everything to do with it!
HUSBAND: You know what, unclog your own goddamned drain!
WIFE: Stain the porch!
Follow THIS LINK to read the rest.

(My thoughts will make slightly more sense if you peek at the article first, but you don't have to. You'll still get my point.)

These scenes are funny because most people accept the viewpoint that being married means letting the monotony of life create friction and fighting. I've been married for fifteen years and none of the jokes in this piece were anything near what I could relate to. 

However, I would have laughed and slapped my knee and said, "Tell me about it!" if those same role-playing distractions (picking up the kids, finishing the porch, etc.) had made the couples lose the sexy mood and get busy with the business of life, rather than snap and fight. If they rushed to pick the kids up from school, absentmindedly still in role playing garb, it would have been hilarious! 

As the piece is now, it's funny, but it's the kind of funny that paints an unnecessary picture of marriage. It will encourage people to believe it's correct or expected to argue and nitpick and holler at each other.

Having said that, I'll admit--I giggled. 

My mom learned early in her comedy career the power of jokes and then taught it to us kids. It's so healthy to have a sense of humor, to laugh freely and often! It's even healthier if we take a look at what we laugh at and why. And then adjust accordingly. We are highly aware of this in the autism and mental health community! My mom has even written a one woman musical comedy show, Crazy to Sane, where inspirational and edgy comedy meet important, revealing, and life altering lessons. (I encourage you to get the CD or Mp3!)

Before I was ever married, this fun article would have made me laugh freely and comfortably, and I would have believed it. Back then, I did believe it. Because of the humor surrounding me, how could I not believe that marriage generally grows into annoyance and name calling?

And because I believed it, I looked down on marriage. And in relationships I often played the role by nitpicking or arguing because that's what seemed supposedly "normal" aka "acceptable and right". Yes, I was young and wrong. But that's when we learn easiest and make most of our connections.   

At the time of this writing I have been happily married for fifteen years, largely because my mom taught us the power of jokes and joking. You see, we can use this power to our advantage! Using laughter purposefully  is not only a healthy way to teach and learn, it's pee-your-pants fun!!

I'll let ya in on a little secret, friends. My husband and I are happily married but it's not because we resonate well organically. The truth is, we don't like each other's opinions much, but we love and respect the place where all of our opinions come from. It's hard to explain, but there it is. We don't want nitpicking or arguing to be normal, for us or for our children, so we don't do it. Instead, we find a way to love the value of learning from someone you just don't agree with! Like reading a really good book from a vastly different perspective, we find each other intriguing and a little bit crazy, maybe even scary, but in a good way. In a way that makes us explore and expand our edges. It's terrifically hard to explain but beautiful nonetheless!

So, friends, let's please remember the power in our jokes! That certainly doesn't mean we should ever be afraid to laugh!! No, no, no! Let's laugh! While we also talk about why we're laughing, and shift when we feel the need. Let's not judge others when they laugh (because goodness knows we ourselves will laugh and have laughed when perhaps we could have instead chosen to learn) but instead chat and discover and share our reasons! 

So feel free to laugh at this article. Feel free to think I'm wrong or ridiculous. But please, also, remember the power of our jokes.

If these married couple role-playing scenes ended the way I imagine, the way that would have been funny to me (with husbands actually cleaning the pool while the wife actually picks up the kids toys, and the sex sometimes getting forgotten--but both parties are comfortable about it) we'd teach another truth of marriage. 

It would still be funny while it painted a picture of collaboration and sharing responsibility: It would paint a picture of love. 

There. Comedy lecture over! 

Here, I've got another sexy joke for ya!

Check out this short stand-up video where The Brain Broad teaches a bit about female anatomy to a misinformed gentleman (?) at the bar. 

Hugs, smiles, laughter, and love!!!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)