If there’s one thing we’ve always taken for granted in this country, it’s the fact that we can laugh. But can we? What’s funny anymore? Subjects we could treat lightly once are deadly serious today. Derision is taken for disloyalty. Political satire is extinct. Personal caricature is libel. Parody is illegal.
Remember Mark Twain’s caustic comment? “First God made idiots for practice, and then He made congressmen.” Today Mark Twain would be denounced as a subversive or a Communist. We’re no longer able to laugh at ourselves — we’re losing our sense of humor at a time when we need it most. One by one we’ve herded all our sacred cows behind a high barbed-wire fence of patriotic or social or racial sensitivity. If a comedian trespasses inside, he is promptly punished.
We need to laugh today as we never needed before. Laughter springs from confidence, but the opposite is just as true: laughter begets confidence.
—“Are You Afraid to Laugh?” by Corey Ford, September 20, 1958
This article is featured in the March/April 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Featured image: Shutterstock
Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now