In a world where most entertainment and humor have become coarsened, it’s nice to know that not all humor is base. The principle of intelligent humor is one of our topics here at Sacred Windows, and thankfully, there is much of it out there, even if we sometimes have to go looking for it.
The basic truth is that God is glorified in innocent, reverent, and intelligent humor. It’s His world, and He made it the subject of paradoxes, clever angles, and turns of logic that make us laugh. He gets the glory when we revel in the joy of humor.
But “innocent, reverent, and intelligent” doesn’t mean that humor has to be explicitly religious to glorify Him, although according to historian Paul Johnson (in The Humorists), the first recorded laugh in history is in the Bible. It happened when Abraham’s wife Sarah laughed at the message that she was going to have a baby in her old age (Genesis 17:17). God Himself is a master humorist when you think about it.
Anyway, the best humor is always clean, sharp, and edifying, no matter the subject.
A Hilarious Happy Birthday
The talented pianist, Nicole Pesce, illustrates the point perfectly.
She made the following video in 2013 during one of her live shows. It’s simply brilliant and one of those performances that made me laugh out loud when I first heard it.
I don’t know how she ever got the idea to transform the familiar “Happy Birthday” ditty into the musical styles that the great composers could have written, but the very juxtaposition of something trite against something sublime is the essence of good humor.
A note to those who watch: the final segment of the clip where she takes her jacket off, lays on the bench, and plays the piano upside down and backward may be mystifying if you haven’t seen the 1984 movie Amadeus (about Mozart). She doesn’t explain what she’s doing because she presumes everyone in that particular audience of classical music devotees would easily get the reference!
In the routine, she recreates the scene where Mozart does exactly that in an effort to show up his rival Salieri. Both the scene in the movie and the performance in the video are incredible displays of talent – and very funny.
The video is slightly longer than most of our clips, but it is well worth five minutes of your time for so much fun.
Play Happy Birthday Like the Classics (duration, 5:22)
What follows is an amazing clip of a girl doing a cartwheel in front of an aquarium window. The reaction of the dolphin swimming by on the other side of the window has to be seen to be believed!
The Dolphin Whisperer (duration, 1:06)
Innocence and simplicity never hurt anyone. Quite the contrary.
They heal us because they are antidotes to the haughty wickedness of society or the soul-sapping influences of what passes for culture. How many parents have come home from a hard day at work or the desolation of adult interactions to experience the joy of their little ones?
Sophisticated, intelligent forms of humor, on the other hand, can bolster our spirits, lift our hearts, and even purify our minds by exposure to funny and paradoxical views of the world. The “surprise” they offer releases us from care and anxiety. We sometimes marvel at the minds that hold all those punch lines or the incredible timing of their deliveries.
Bad, banal humor is all around us too, so make an effort to seek out humor, good humor, to the extent that you can in the context of your life and vocation. Do it as a regular habit. Then spread it. (Email and the internet make this a lot easier nowadays).
Above all, make sure to glorify God, who has programmed paradox and joy into our world as previews of the perfect joy of Heaven.