What happened to humor?

I have, as of late, been thoroughly enjoying video clips of Craig Ferguson cutting up with the late Robin Williams on Ferguson’s late night TV show of years past. They are a treat to me, although I have to confess that too much of the good Mr. Williams (especially when laced with a heavy dose of Mr. Ferguson) tends to make me somewhat manic for the rest of the day! My sons love it – my wife keeps edging toward the phone, smiling. Go figure.

I digress, though.

Today, I came across this clip of Craig Ferguson, and it truly made me sit back and do some thinking. It also gave me the post that you are now reading. Yes, it has some humor interspersed, but the overall message is a very serious one. Here’s the clip:

When he got done, I sat and thought about what he had said and realized that I, like him, agree that many times, the price that is paid in the name of “humor” is simply too high. When we look at the Anna Nicole Simpsons, the Britney Spears, the Lindsay Lohans – these are people who, although they are ultimately responsible for their actions, need help, and need it badly. They aren’t, to me, proper fodder for jokes and comedy routines. It’s like when Family Guy started featuring the old man who was a pedophile (Herbert, I believe his name is) – I remember distinctly telling a friend of mine that at that point, I stopped watching it. They had crossed a line that, to me, you don’t cross. There’s nothing funny about a pedophile, at least not to me. (To be fair, FG had been getting closer to that line for a LONG time, but that was finally the last straw, I guess you would say) When you look at the trainwrecks of lives that we now regularly see and follow on TV, on “reality shows” and the like, somehow they stop being funny when you realize that that’s a real person you’re watching, who is suffering real consequences for their very real actions. Craig Ferguson had, at the time of this video, been 15 years sober. He knew what it was to have been at the bottom, and to have found help and to fight every day to stay sober, and keep his life in order. Although I’ve never been an alcoholic, I know what it is like to lose complete control of your life and have to, essentially, rebuild it and realize just exactly who you are and what you’re doing. He realized that it wasn’t a subject for quick, cheap laughs and I applaud him for it.

Now, why am I saying this? Am a Fascist who wants to censor free speech or ban “that” kind of humor? Hell no. People have the right to choose what they find funny and not. What I am is a person who believes, as apparently Mr. Ferguson does, that sometimes there is a line in humor, and that we need to be cautious of crossing it. When you make humor out of someone destroying their lives, harming themselves or others, and the like, I firmly believe that you’ve forgotten the very real things that you, yourself, have done that have harmed you or others – or if nothing else, have forgotten a simple thing like compassion. Compassion doesn’t mean you excuse the behavior – but it does mean that you don’t join in with the roar of the crowd like a bloody coliseum. Humor doesn’t need to be cruel in order to be humor.

I don’t like what these people are doing to themselves – but I also won’t sit and gleefully watch them drive themselves into the ground. It could just as easily be me, there, being watched by others, if there were circumstances in my life that had been different, and if I had not, by the grace of God, gotten help and had real and true friends and family who helped and supported me. Every day is a battle to make sure that it doesn’t become me.

You know what? It could just as easily be YOU.

If it IS you, remember something he said at the end – there are people who can help. They’re very close to the front of the telephone directory, or a few keystrokes away on the internet. You are not alone. Don’t give up.

God bless today, my friends.