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Dark Humor

Dark humor is found in the depths of your life. It is the ability to laugh at the worst - death, bankruptcy, illness...what ever life throws at you. When my mother was particular annoyed with what I found to be funny, she'd say, "You have a sense of humor just like your father!"
To which I would reply, "Thanks!"     : )
My dad was a genuinely funny person and my fondest memories of him are of him with eyes squinted closed, engaged in an almost silent chuckle. He loved irony and dark humor. He wasn't afraid to joke about his heart attack and laughed when I made cancer jokes at my own expense. That was how we dealt with situations that seemed larger than ourselves. It certainly helps keep ego in check!

It is probably due to my father that I love when authors find humor in pathos. I appreciate the writer's attitude of turning the tables...a lazy susan of emotions, in which you keep rotating the core of your emotions until you find the one that makes you happy.

This past fall, I was honored to meet Da Chen, an author who lives in NY's Hudson Valley, but grew up in Communist China. He signed his autobiography COLORS OF THE MOUNTAIN in bold calligraphy for my college-age son, giving him advice on what is important in life. (The riches in life aren't money...). He talked of how to approach writing a book so full of pain and sorrow. He said humor is the only way he could look at such a dark time of his life. If he didn't find the humor in it, he continued, it would be hard to survive. In an interview with the author, Alden Mudge wrote, 'But Da Chen is exactly right when he says Colors of the Mountain 'is about hopes and dreams. It's about hope even when you are hopeless. It's about making dreams come true.' (Bookpage Interview)."

Another tale that weaves pathos with humor is the film "Slumdog Millionaire" (based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup). If you haven't yet gone to see this movie, do it now. Don't wait for it to come out on video. (This is from the woman who sees about three movies a year in the theater!) You will understand why there is so much Oscar buzz over this film, as it is haunting and poignant. Even though the main character has been accused of cheating while playing the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", and reveals his answers through flashbacks to his youth in the slums of India, the dark humor of life comes shining through.

Even though Beth Accomando was writing about another film ("Beauty in Trouble") , her description fits both Da Chen's approach to life in COLORS OF THE MOUNTAIN and the character's path in "Slumdog Millionaire"  "There's definitely humor but it's a kind of dark fatalistic humor, a kind of survivor's humor in which circumstances are often bleak but you have to laugh because that's all you can do to cope."

Find the funny.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
As one of my grandmothers was fond of saying "You just have to laugh, or else you'd never stop crying."
Feb. 19th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC)
Gotta love grandmas...
She sounds like a wise woman!
: )

Just out of curiosity, what nickname did you call her and in what state did she grow up?
Feb. 19th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
I called that one Mommie Dot or Nana. She was born and raised in Massachusetts.
Feb. 19th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
What's the story behind Mommie Dot? That's a cute one.
Feb. 19th, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)
She was Dorothy - Dot for short - and her kids and all their friends called her that, and grandkids did as well.
Feb. 19th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
I just love her name! In fact, I'm going to go write a new journal entry on this topic right now...
: )
Feb. 19th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
One of the things I like most about my oncologist is that he looks like Groucho Marx!
Feb. 19th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
That would make me smile. Mine was 12.
: )
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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