Philosophers have long puzzled over the role of humor. The best explanation I’ve heard so far is that we laugh at something that doesn’t make sense or the sense of it changes so rapidly our mind laughs trying to make sense of it. So humor is just our complex way of figuring things out or just putting our hands up puzzled.
Let us remember how humor is an important part of our rational faculty dealing with the absurdity of the world at times. Sometimes the best sense of humor is had by the person who laughs at himself. I leave you with this account of Chrysippus dying from laughter:
One ancient account of the death of Chrysippus, the 3rd-century BC Greek Stoic philosopher, tells that he died of laughter after he saw a donkey eating his figs; he told a slave to give the donkey neat wine with which to wash them down, and then, “…having laughed too much, he died (courtesy Wikipedia)”
Why did the Stoic business succeed but the Epicurean business fail? The Stoic business had Logos!
Stoics: there is only the fiery Logos and its providence
Epicureans: there is only the atoms and the void
Aristotle: there is exactly five elements and earth is at the center of all the elements
Plato: there is only abstract entities and matter is an illusion
Skeptics: it is impossible to know what is
Diogenes the Cynic: there is only this barrel. It’s a really nice urn, it keeps me sheltered at night. It’s made of the finest ceramic.
How did the Sophist get over his stage fright?
He imagined the crowd naked.
How did the Epicurean?
She imagined the crowd was just atoms and void. How can mere atoms and void be scary?
How did the Platonist?
He imagined that the crowd was just shadows on the wall of the cave. The crowd is just a less real version of the World of Forms.
How did the Stoic?
She just imagined the crowd as mean, judgmental, coarse in language, and throwing fruit at her while she imagined herself indifferent to this. After the brief visualization, the crowd before her seemed much more tame and manageable.
How did the Cyrenaic?
He just drank from his bottle of wine between lines he had to recite.
How did the Cynic?
She imagined herself naked and then proceeded to get naked. The crowd yelled, “you have no shame!” and began throwing fruit. She then responded by peeing on the stage floor. She took a quick bow and threw her menstrual rag into the crowd and exited stage right.