Using humor as an outlet for discussing serious topics

Illustration by Anna Rasmus

Illustration by Anna Rasmus

I was recently back home in Chicago celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with my childhood friends. The drinks were flowing and so was the conversation, just as it always does when you see close friends for the first time in months.

As we get older, conversations tend to become more serious and more candid. But what stuck with me about that day was the comedy we found in the seriousness of the topics we chose to talk about. We joked about our mental health, childhood traumas, our fear of failure and the future.

These topics weren’t laughing matters, and the alcohol definitely played a role, but I was intrigued by the way comedy opened up the conversation and allowed all of us to let our guard down. It was as if any stigma or judgement that may have surrounded those topics suddenly disappeared.

This also made me realize that I have recently began to use self-deprecating humor not only as a defense mechanism for my own insecurities, but also as a way to invite people to laugh at themselves as well. It is difficult to talk about things you might be ashamed about or things that might be considered taboo, so I guess my hope is that through the use of humor, people will find comfort in their flaws.

In his Netflix stand-up special, “Ricky Gervais: Humanity,” Gervais ends his show with a quote: “If you can laugh in the face of adversity, you’re bullet-proof.”

Though I believe there are certain things that should not be joked about, what I understood from this is that if you can laugh at yourself, you take away the power for people to laugh at you and instead they will laugh with you.


VoicesHrystyna Bobel