don’t laugh at politics
Political humor is extremely practical for managing stress, conflict and competition. We need to make our politics less stressful, less confrontational and less violent
There are many joke books out there. By far the most popular were compiled by the inimitable writer Khushwant Singh. I have all his books, not just jokes, others too. My hobby is collecting joke books. However, I have not encountered any on political humor. That’s why I thought of compiling one, partly in remembrance and dedication to these four people.
Humor has the power to transform a tense and tumultuous atmosphere into a pleasant one. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If I didn’t have a sense of humor, I would have killed myself a long time ago.” No one can think clearly when his fists are clenched and his heart is heavy. A sense of humor reduces people and their problems to their proper proportion. It enlightens and illuminates life; engenders harmony and goodwill. Emphasizing its importance, the eminent psychologist and author Edward De Bono once said, “Humor is by far the most significant behavior of the human mind.” And Mahatma Gandhi said, “Humor is both a tranquilizer and an equalizer.”
Political humor is extremely practical for managing stress, conflict and competition. We must make our politics less stressful, less confrontational and less violent. Politicians are usually smart. I strongly believe that smart, caring, and generous people can crack jokes and use humor. If we develop a sense and approach to humor, we could reduce a lot of tension and stress.
In this book, there are a few jokes taken from Parliament. Former vice-president and then president, KR Narayanan, said: “A legislature should be an exciting place resonating with debate, argument, scintillating with wit and humour”. Truly, the humor in Parliament reflects some of the fascinating moments and gives us a sense of the debates in both chambers. Our MPs representing diverse backgrounds and a wide diversity of cultures make witty remarks and interjections based on their respective backgrounds, which often rekindles stress and tension in competitive debates.
Professor Giri presents the first volume on political humor composed of anecdotes, jokes and funny quotes. There are two sources, one in India and the other abroad. It is to show comparison and emphasize the unity of humanity; that the human mind and spirit are similar across the world. People can make silly and stupid statements all over the world.
Humor is not part of Indian life across the country. Most jokes are about Punjabis or Haryanvis, maybe because they are hard working, fun loving and carefree. Many of us can’t laugh at ourselves. In fact, on the contrary, we become hypersensitive. Curiously, laughter has become a yoga practice lately in India. You will see many people, mostly old people, laughing loudly in the parks in the morning. Although it may help, it is not natural.
Khushwant Singh used to say that Indians are constipated in their revelry. Surely they are missing a powerful health ingredient in life because laughter is supposed to be the best medicine. That’s why perhaps Khushwant Sing invited jokes, published them in his columns and compiled them into multi-volume joke books. Jokes are circulating a lot these days in WhatsApp and SMS messages. But what’s missing is a natural tendency to laugh at things, and at oneself, to see the lighter side of life.
In Indian politics, there have been and are many smart people who can crack fancy jokes and make others feel good. Again, politics in India is competitive, tense and tumultuous. Political affairs can be made enjoyable, funny and interesting if people adopt a sense of humor.
Everyone likes to relax, de-stress and enjoy. Using humor is a better way to do this, especially in the realm of politics. This collection of anecdotes, jokes and quotes is an offering to the political world to make it simpler and more palatable.
In Western culture humor comes naturally to people, mainly in England, simply because they can laugh at themselves. The author quotes an anecdote from his study day in England, I was listening to a lecturer from my university, who began by saying, “I must warn you, the public, I am a long-winded bugger”, Also in the western culture humor has become an indispensable coping strategy for people. According to psychoanalytic theory, humor acts as a defense mechanism to help people fight their negative feelings.
In the West, humor is seen as a common trait, while in the East, it is a special talent not commonly seen in common people. In the West ordinary people can generate humorous situations whereas in the East you have professional comedians to do it.
There is obviously an influence of culture on the use of humour. It is said that to understand a society, one must either look at the data or analyze the nature of laughter. In the West, people are individualistic, they believe in caring, healing and having fun. You will see only one foreign tourist while very few Indian people will go alone on a leisure trip. Easterners like to live in community and believe in taking care of others as well as themselves. Humor is best and natural when done about oneself, as one can be frank, carefree and direct. This is why humor in the West comes naturally to everyone.