What’s the Use of Humour in Democracy

Wit and a sense of humour are the essential leaven in the dough of democracy; Hitler and the Nazis had neither. Interestingly, one of the greatest humorists of the day, David Javerbaum, former head writer at The Tonight Show and author of The Last Testament  A Memoir by God, doesn’t think so. Asked whether he thought comics, comedy and humour ever change anyone’s mind at the Jewish Community Centre in Vancouver yesterday, he demurred: he and all the other wits at The Tonight Show, weren’t actually in that business; they are strictly there for entertainment. Well, I wish I had put up my hand and asked the obvious sequel question, which is, what good is such high level humour if it’s only entertainment, after all? I didn’t, but in hindsight, I am asking if Javerbaum and other great comics, such as C.K. Louis, for example, really think that humour isn’t at bottom a serious, and necessary matter in a society struggling to preserve its democratic values. Just asking…

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