Laughter and Comedy: Unmasking the Self

This is an excerpt from my paper ‘ How Effective is Laughter and Comedy in Creating an Atmosphere of Positive Peace?’

Humour Unmasked

In Kahil Gibran’s book The Prophet he writes ‘what is your sorrow but your joy unmasked’.58The power and irony of those that wear masks is that they are able to unmask society in a myriad of ways.59 The mask or camoflague conceals true intentions and suggests that things on the surface are not what they appear to be.60

Humour is considered the best lie detector, discovering with uncanny flair, contrived ideals and insincerity. Humour unmasks pretence, pompousness and arrogance.61 Humour is a powerful tool which makes people intolerant of phoney and fraudulent ideals. Lorenz states that knowledge and humour are the two great hopes for civilisation.62

The idea of unmasking is described as a strip-tease momentarily freeing the unmasked from custom, habit and discomfort.63 The comic unmasks through laughing at subtle and acute perceptions of the humourous aspects of the Self.64 The hopeless fools reveal hypocritical abuses of power through making themselves the object of ridicule and revealing his own foolishness and cleverly unmasking the force and fraud of powerholders.65

Humour exerts an influence on social behaviour analogous to moral responsibility and makes the world a more honest and better place to live.66 Furthermore, humour creates the bond of personal love and friendship enabling people to live peacefully together to work for the common good.67

Mohandas Gandhi

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.”


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