Monday Morning Greetings 2023 #6 – What Makes Something Funny?

February 6th, 2023

The Joy of No Texts

I recently visited a far-off sacred forest of Vrindavan that I had never seen before. I was stunned by the beauty of a community of sadhus who have lived naturally, and who have protected a large forest, lush with peacocks and herds of cows, with no technology. I chanted “Jaya Radhe” and hundreds of cows affectionately walked towards me from hundreds of feet away. I became enlivened to write about the joy of no technology. When I returned home, the Gods of technology took revenge, and my computer crashed again. Luckily, they have allowed me to dictate this through my iPhone to Kadamba Mala, my editor. I have sent my computer back to America for repair, and I will also get a new one. For the next month I will write Monday Morning Greetings by hand. I am looking forward to the challenge of defeating the Gods of technology, who have, in a way, captured our souls. I am therefore forced to include a short reprint for an unprecedented third time in a row. Please forgive me.

What Makes Something Funny?

May 30, 2016

During my research for a talk on What Makes Something Funny, which was meant to follow a performance by the B.Centered comedy group, I was surprised that every great philosopher, from Aristotle to Kant, had a theory on comedy. I read through one thinker after the next, trying to understand what makes something funny, but I found the most profound theory to be the one espoused by none other than Groucho Marx:

“Humor is reason gone mad.”

It may be funny that Marx trumps Schopenhauer, but it seemed to make the most sense, as it was similar to a theory of comedy I had espoused many years before, based on the Bhagavad-gītā.[1]

I had posited that everything in this world serves the purpose of the world, which is liberation. As the Gītā says, when you are forced to act helplessly according to the modes of nature, you are a fool. I had surmised that comedy is a parody of that. If you describe someone who acts very thoughtfully, it is not funny but sobering. I had thus theorized that humor discourages conditioning by laughing at it. And now, fifteen years after writing my thesis on what makes something funny, while studying the theories of all major philosophers, I am convinced of the validity of mine—that humor is part of the Absolute Reality meant to discourage our folly—by the insights of Marx (not Karl):

Humor is reason gone mad!


[1] http://wavesofdevotion.com/2001/01/13/calcuttamayapur-met-kaustubha-jai-nitai/

Comments are closed.