Emily Levenson Spring 2017: Prompt 1: Laughter

In his legendary 1993 speech at the inaugural ESPY awards, Jim Valvano said there are three things everyone should do everyday; laugh, cry and think

His  complete quote was “To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think — spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”

Valvano was battling terminal cancer at the time and gave one of the most memorable and courageous speeches in American history. His ability to take time to laugh knowing he was going to lose his life truly illustrates the importance of laughter in all of our lives.

It often takes laughter and comedy to tackle serious subjects. Norman Lear’s sitcoms in the 1970’s tackled many serious subjects. Lear’s shows were nearly 20 years ahead of their time in taking on subjects such as racism, sexism, and homophobia on All in the Family to abortion on Maude.

Just thinking back to those shows make me smile and laugh. Archie Bunker’s views were so absurd that people couldn’t help but laugh and examine their own views.

Forty to 45 years later we still use comedy to challenge our views on politics, gender, race and life. When Saturday night live began they became the first show to have political satire on a weekly basis it changed the way our country thinks about and views politics.

Our ability to laugh in even the most serious moments adds levity and is also important to our health. Some of the most brilliant observations about life come from comedians we all look up to.

From the Honeymooners to Big Bang Theory and big budgets comedies from stars like Tyler Perry our ability to laugh gives us a chance to laugh at situations we can relate to.

We all need to be grateful for the people in our lives that help us laugh. The ability to connect with others has never been greater. The sharing of humor in the age of technology began with sharing jokes through email and has evolved into the proliferation of memes on virtual every level of social media.

Being able to laugh at ourselves and life in general and to have someone to truly be able to do that with is one of life’s biggest gifts.


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