It's Not About Telling Jokes. It's About Survival.
Be honest. You can't bear another minute on zoom. You can't stand cooking with your mother even though you're supposed to be "bonding." You know once and for all that your kids are complete shitbags. You're sick of hearing about the presidential debates; you dread knowing that you should vote even though statistically you probably never have. Your friends are a nuisance and you don't want to deal with them.
Don't Just say them to yourself. Make sure people know. You don't need to be contemptuous. You don't need to make light of things. And for goodness sake please don't be sarcastic; sarcasm is lazy and overrated.
Be humorous. Be honest in your own idiosyncratic way. It's something you have to figure out on your own. Because humor is about survival.
It will bring you closer to the people in your life in the most counterintuitive way.
A lot of people in my life now get that one of my quirks is being absurdly honest (not brutally, absurdly). I'll be on the phone with a friend who had just ranted to me for fifteen minutes; here's an example of how I respond.
Through the deafening silence, an audible inhale. And...
"Wow. I had doubted that you were a sad sack of shit. Then I heard that story."
And I really mean it.
And the person on the other line laughs. Hysterically.
Not nervously. Not piteously. Hysterically.
Because they are enlivened by the surprise of someone finally being honest with them.
Which is more than can be said about the people in our public sphere right now (if ever).
When I say things like that, it's not the words that matter. It's the timing. And the honesty.
And what better time to be honest than now?
Does this approach also involve risk?
And what better time to take risks than now? When it is clear that normalcy has failed us.
Everyone is so serious about the world right now. Understandable. But you should be more serious about finding your humor. In one of my favorite acting books (I'm an actor; I don't have a job; And that ain't funny neither!) Audition by Michael Shurtleff, the author says,
"Humor is not jokes. It is the attitude toward being alive without which you could have long ago jumped off the fifty-ninth street bridge. Humor is not being funny. It is the coin exchange between human beings that makes it possible for us to get through the day. Humor exists even in the humorless... When we say about a life situation, 'and it's not funny either,' we are attempting to inject humor into a situation that lacks it. We try in life to put humor everywhere; if we didn't, we couldn't bear to live."
You're telling too many jokes. This is no time to be funny. It's time to find humor. It's time to stop putting on airs or pretending that you feel a certain way when you're truly miserable. Be miserable. It's easy enough to tell yourself that all your feelings are "valid" while you're meditating (if you do that bullshit). But what about in the moment? Are your feelings valid then? Your feelings are never valid. But they are always the truth. And unfortunately we live in a society that invalidates the truth. So stop looking for so-called "validity."
Your feelings aren't always the best guide for what to do. But they are never wrong. And denying them is a sure road to hell.
The Hebrew Prophets were slain because they dissented against those priests who followed and prescribed external laws without obeying the law in their hearts.
That's why lust is a sin when you look at someone lustfully.
The Book of Jeremiah writes the ideal for god.
"They shall know me, for I will write my law in their inward parts."
Or written in the Qur'an
"Whether you conceal what is in your hearts or bring it to the open, god knows it."
That is to say that people are not obeying god's law until their inward desires are actually in line with it. That is to say the cannot obey god's law unless they want to.
That is to say that god's law is nothing short of being completely honest.
Humor is nothing short of being completely honest.
Being honest about your feelings--even the ones that make you completely hate someone (including god)--is the only way to survive the ones you think are causing you trouble.
If you believe in that bullshit, anyway.
Being honest with yourself; using humor you may guide yourself to feeling the way you actually want to. Hate can turn into an expression of love.
My grandparents are experts at this. Here's one beautiful exchange I witnessed:
GRANDPA: "I try never to give people a reason to be jealous of me."
GRANDMA: "Why on earth would people be jealous of you?"
GRANDPA: "I've had a good life."
GRANDMA: "No you haven't."
GRANDPA: "You're the one sore spot."
GRANDMA: "You old bastard."
They laugh. Hysterically.
They weren't being funny. They weren't joking. But they made each other laugh because they were honest.
And they made themselves, after fifty years of exclusive monogamy, that more bearable to each other.
Like Alan Watts puts it,
"We are just as much a part of the natural order as flames in the fire or stars in the sky. But this is only apparent to the person who is honest... in other words the person who is tied up in trying to pretend their feelings are other than they actually are. They can never see this. And they're always a trouble-maker. They are the original hypocrite."
Don't be a hypocrite. Be like a prophet. Find humor and tell the truth.
Yours and the rest of our survival depends on it.
If you believe in that bullshit, anyway.