GK Chesterton once said that art is the signature of man. I remember having one of my favorite discussions with my Chinese students in our first class of the semester last year about this topic. What separates humans from animals? Are humans animals to begin with? All of my students were in total agreeance when I wrote this phrase on the board: humans are animals. But when we dove further into the topic, they became more unsure and contemplative. Chinese students aren’t taught to be skeptics like we are, questioning everything. So, when I begged them to question this phrase, they grew silent. That could have been due to the fact that my students were mostly girls and I was an extremely attractive professor, and I always taught with a few top buttons unbuttoned, my chesthair (singular) burgeoning out from under my shirt. Or because I was an American and they came from rural Chinese towns and had never seen a white person before. Open to interpretation. I totally agree with Chesterton: birds build houses, but you’ll never see a bird match the color of his sofas with the the color and contour of his curtains. He argues in “The Everlasting Man” that evolutionists are misstaken when they talk about the brutality and stupidity of early humans. He points to the earliest findings of cavemen being art on the walls. In short: when there’s art, you know a human has been there. I’d like to throw humor into the conversation. Humor is another element that separates humans from animals, and politicians.
Once on a Younglife retreat Lee Corder told us why Younglife has such a huge emphasis on humor and why there are other ministries that think Younglife overemphasizes humor, and should focus more on serious things and truth. But they miss the point, Lee told us. When you make someone laugh, you’re essentially saying, “I want to be your friend.” Notice that you’ll never want to make someone laugh you don’t want to be friends with. That’s what I’ve always loved about Younglife, and it’s a way I want to live for the rest of my life: the importance is on relationships.
Here’s another good reason why humor is so important. Maybe you’ve seen this before, but here’s a rare moment of Stephen Colbert out of character. Notice his reasons for humor being so important, but also why it’s important to be sincere. If you already like Colbert and think it’d be cool to grab a beer with him, be prepared to fall in with love him if you’re a woman, and wish you were him, if you’re a dude. He just seems, by god, like an all around good guy.
I’m well aware that I just put you in the mood with this blog post. After all this talk about laughing I know you just want to now. I just turned the lights down, put on your favorite song, and started reading you the Olive Garden menu. Don’t you worry, baby, I’m not going to leave you hanging. I remember watching this on a bad day last year. Changed everything.