Mel Brooks once said, “If your enemy is laughing, how can he bludgeon you to death?” This is not an entirely new thought. It harkens back to the Crusades when a satirist would be carried on the shoulders of a soldier in the front line to hurl abuse at the enemy. Unfortunately, this did not always work and the hapless comic was often the first to be killed.

However, in the late 50’s, Dr. Norman Cousins proved that laughter has great powers to not only defeat fear but to heal. In fact, Cousins laughed himself back to good health from a devastating, typically fatal disease with the help of countless ‘I Love Lucy’ shows. Likewise, comedy, humor, laughter can help us address our fears even during the darkest of times.

Take, for example, the courage of comic Christine Basil who – on the heels of September 11 – went out on stage and slowly inched into her monologue, bravely, winding up here, “We’re all sitting there watching the television. That incredible live footage of the plane going through the building. But what they didn’t show is the CNN footage of a red-haired kid in Central Park with a remote control, looking up, saying – ‘Uh-oh, I didn’t think that would happen!’” That’s big, risky stuff. But, it gave her audience an opportunity to laugh, momentarily shake off fear and heal a bit.

So it is that, in those few moments when we can laugh at the worst of our fears, the darkness lifts and the enemy is ordered back.

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