Permission to laugh

image courtesy of

Eighteen days before the 27th season of Saturday Night Live was scheduled to air, the September 11, 2001 attacks took place in New York City. The season premiere went on as scheduled, with a special cold opening by then mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani. Flanked by the firefighters and police officers of New York, he declared that despite the terrorist attack, New York City would run as normal and Saturday Night Live will go on as planned. What I remember most about that opening was the question posed by the show’s producer Lorne Michaels: “Can we be funny?”, to which Giuliani responded, “Why start now?”

Overwhelmed by the pain and suffering caused by the natural disasters in Japan, deeply disturbed by the government of Libya killing its own people and feeling the weight of what seems to be nothing but bad news, I find myself asking the same question Michaels posed on SNL: “Can I be funny? (To which you may be thinking, “Why start now?”) Is it okay to write about all the stupid and ridiculous things I tend to gravitate towards on this blog when there’s so much suffering going on in the world?”

I think the answer to that question is yes. Because there will always be sadness and suffering in this world. There will most probably be moments in our lives where nothing seems funny. Last week I wanted to wallow in my sadness. Being stupid and ridiculous seemed just that–stupid and ridiculous. Not funny.

But you know what’s funny?

image from

Me wanting to wallow in sadness like some horrible suburban emo kid who ignores all the wonderfully beautiful things of this life. Things like making fun of emo kids:

That video still makes me smile.

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23 Responses to “Permission to laugh”

  1. jasonS March 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Sometimes we don’t have the reserves to deal with the tragedy at hand and we’re not being insensitive, we just can’t handle it. I’m guilty in that sometimes (if guilty is the right word). Anyway, I totally smell what your stepping in here. Thanks Kat. 🙂

    • katdish March 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

      You definitely smell what I’m stepping in? Ha! That’s awesome.

  2. Amy Nabors March 21, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Laughing is how we cope sometimes. Tragedies happen but I think laughter and finding humor in things is a gift. My best friend is her mom’s only child. Her mom has Alzheimers and she has been dealing with it for 15 years. She says she has to laugh at all the ridiculous experiences it has brought. If she didn’t she would be curled up in the fetal position crying all the time.

  3. Jeanne Damoff March 21, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    It’s one thing to be insensitive and another entirely to make fun of emo kids. Always in season.

  4. Candy March 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    Emo kids weren’t around when my kids were little, but I would have laughed at them. They’re fair game. I think back then it was Elmo – when did they drop the “e” and get into the Revlon?

    We were given the gift of laughter – it’s appropriate to use it. And that includes “snort!”

    I wallowed last week, too. And the week before. Thanks for the faith-lift.

    • Andrew March 22, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

      Emo kids are just Goth kids reincarnated. As a card-carrying member of the Cure fan club, it’s not all bad to be emo/goth is it? Surely?

      • katdish March 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

        Andrew – I wore out my Kiss Me Kiss Me CD in the 80s. It’s not bad to be emo or goth, I just think overly dramatic teenagers are funny in general. At least mine is. (And he’s not goth or emo.)

  5. Hazel Moon March 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    Being able to laugh at ourselves is healthy. Even in times of sorrow and sadness there is a time to laugh or at least smile. It helps to bring healing.

  6. Louise March 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    You made me laugh out loud on a snowy day in Calgary… the first real day of spring.

    That’s something.

    And I appreciate it!

    We can share tears or laughter with those in far-off lands — sometimes, our laughter strengthens us more than tears.

  7. James March 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    The answer is definitely yes! We must laugh when things get tough…and it’s our duty! At the same time, I think it’s compassionate to take into account those affected by the tragedy, if there is one. It’s all about context and intention. After all, laughter is still the best medicine! I hope I can find the strength to muster a smile in the end, if not another breath. 🙂

  8. seekingpastor March 22, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    Glad you have decided not to give up the funny. Emo kids make me smile/grimace.

  9. nancy March 22, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    when you are 55 ( or pregnant)…you laugh and cry at the same time.
    hopefully one is not “55” and pregnant.
    knock on wood…oh that doesn’t sound right somehow.

  10. Helen March 22, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Sorry, dear, I hate to be the fly in the ointment here, but you know the Emo kids aren’t as funny as this

    I like laughter, too. I once remarked at an Uncle’s funeral that I was most disturbed because he was buried in a suit. “We KNOW he wouldn’t want to be caught dead in a suit!” Humor is a release. I believe it is a gift. I have my suspicions that it wasn’t included in the list because St. Paul was a little lacking in that gift… Okay, before anyone accuses me of blasphemy, I’m just kidding. Again.
    Love you, Katdish.

    • katdish March 22, 2011 at 9:25 am #

      I’ll give you that, Helen. That video is my favorite “All the single ladies” dances. Those guys were working it. And I love what you said at your uncle’s funeral.

  11. Jim H March 22, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Hoping the subtitles aren’t wildly inappropriate, but this is my favorite “Single Ladies” sendup thanks for the permission, Katdish!

    • katdish March 22, 2011 at 10:09 am #

      I love that video. Beauty comes in all ages and forms.

  12. bman March 22, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    I have a tendency to laugh first anyway, so this speaks to me. I’ve been laughing about that Friday song all weekend. There is still beauty in the world, and there’s still ridiculousness that needs someone to point at it and say, “Hey everyone, look how stupid that is!”

    The world needs heroes.

  13. Tony Alicea March 23, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    I think we HAVE to be funny. I would kill myself if I just thought about the crazy stuff that goes on every day. Okay not really, but I definitely would be a Debbie Downer. Sure there’s a time to be sober and serious, but not all the time. I’d rather err on the side of silly and funny. Someone has to be happy all the time.

    P.S. That video was awesome!

  14. Harriett March 26, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    I love to laugh, and God gave us that, didn’t he?

    I took a famous quote and made it mine: Those who laugh, last.


    Loved the video and the photo.

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