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Sunday, May 03, 2020

Coronvirus Humor - Part 3

In my first post on Coronavirus humor I mused about the arc of humorous treatments of disaster and crisis and how we can categorize and classify the many jokes and memes that we are all consuming about Covid-19. Then in a second post I brought some scholarly evidence that keeping it funny in the face of great challenge keeps us determined and optimistic that we can fight through. An Atlantic article has a similar take, encouraging us to keep laughing precisely because we are facing scary times. Time magazine says laughing right now can combat anxiety. And the New York Times reassures us that it is ok to joke right now, writing that humor existed even among prisoners at concentration camps during the Holocaust. The analogy seems a bit extreme but I was deeply moved by the passages about Holocaust survivors remembering how humor kept them alive:

“Every day at the Art Cafe on Leszno Street, one can hear songs and satires of the police, the ambulence service, the rickshas, and even the Gestapo, in veiled fashion,” wrote Mary Berg, a 15-year-old trapped by Nazis in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, in a diary entry from Oct. 29, 1941. “The typhus epidemic itself is the subject of jokes. It is laughter through tears, but it is laughter. This is our only weapon in the ghetto.”

and the best nugget of research in the NYT article is from Scott Weems, a cognitive neuroscientist and the author of “Ha! The Science of When We Laugh and Why.”:“My favorite study even found that watching ‘Friends’ reduced anxiety significantly more than simply resting, which should make those of us watching a lot of Netflix lately feel a little better."

Gotta go binge some netlfix now...

Posted by Orly Lobel on May 3, 2020 at 01:39 AM | Permalink


“"My favorite study even found that watching ‘Friends’ reduced anxiety significantly more than simply resting,.."

I confess the connection between the tv series "Friends" and laughter escapes me.

Posted by: Jr | May 4, 2020 6:29:47 AM

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