On SchadenfreudeDo other people make us laugh, or are we laughing at other people? A comedian offers advice on where to draw the line.

On SchadenfreudeDo other people make us laugh, or are we laughing at other people? A comedian offers advice on where to draw the line.

Issue 23

,

Arts & Culture

"Laughter can ease people’s pain and raise their spirits; it happens every day."

Sorry, but I’m afraid this is one of those articles that starts off with a quote by a famous person. Here it is: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

Mel Brooks said that, and I think we immediately understand where he’s coming from. The misfortune of others has been part of comedy forever. It’s like that expression: comedy equals tragedy plus time.

The idea is that laughter comes when there’s enough distance between you and a Bad Thing for it not to seem like a threat—either because it happened long ago, or because it happened to somebody else, or both.

But does Brooks’ quote hold up? Let’s look at some classic jokes and see. An obvious one is the Three Stooges’ entire oeuvre, in which the guys thumped, slapped and k...

The full version of this story is only available for subscribers

Want to enjoy full access? Subscribe Now

Subscribe Discover unlimited access to Kinfolk

  • Four print issues of Kinfolk magazine per year, delivered to your door, with twelve-months’ access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

  • Receive twelve-months of all access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

Learn More

Already a Subscriber? Login

Your cart is empty

Your Cart (0)