I find it interesting how comedy can make the most dramatic situations humorous. What could very easily be executed as a drama, comedy writers take a twisted approach to making the situation funny as hell.
Take a look at some of the funniest movies. In reality, most comedies wouldn’t be viewed as funny if it happened in reality. In As Good as it Gets, you’ve got Jack Nicholson playing Melvin Udall. Udall is a rude, angry and mentally unstable individual who also happens to degrade almost everyone around him. He is racist and sexist yet ironically a romance novelist. When his gay neighbor Simon Bishop is beaten nearly to death and robbed, Udall doggy sits Verdell. Udall is an anti-social, selfish jerk who winds up warming up to the Brussels Griffon and then unexpectedly falls in love with his favorite waitress, Carol Connelly, played by Helen Hunt.
Those who have watched the movie undoubtedly find it hilarious in its awkwardness, but if you ran into Udall in real life, the situations wouldn’t be so funny. If a neighbor was nearly beaten to death and ended up losing everything, it wouldn’t be something to chuckle about.
The beauty of comedies is that they help us cope with tragedy. It takes an ordinarily horrific situation, in this case mental illness and a hate crime, and somehow paints a smile with funny punch lines and irony. There are so many movies like this; one of my favorites is Silver Lining Play Book.
Under ordinary circumstances a man who suffers from bipolar disorder and has been hospitalized for years wouldn’t be funny. The fact that Pat’s wife cheated on him, left him after he was arrested for beating her lover after walking in on them in the shower and now he’s returned delusional and unable to cope with reality— would be considered sad. Depressing even. Pat’s extreme manic episodes, where he works out for hours and hours or gets into a fistfight with his father, if played out in real life would be nothing short of tragic.
Sometimes laughter can really be the best medicine. I find that watching dark comedies like these are the best things to get me out of the dumps. I can relate to the quirky characters, the desire to fit in and to be treated as “normal” and the victory of an underdog overcoming all odds. Therapy can come in all forms. There are various types of animal therapy: dolphins, dogs and horses; I am sure there are more. Watching comedies can also be a great tool to learn to laugh at dysfunction. These movies remind us to be easier on ourselves and to not take our situations or ourselves so seriously.
Try watching a funny movie when a walk in the sunshine, a good self help book or talk therapy doesn’t help. It’s okay if it doesn’t come natural. Pay attention to how people respond to you when you smile more or come across with a lighter, brighter disposition. Even if you don’t feel like it, work on smiling more and laughing more each day. According to studies, laughter helps to relax the body, boost the immune system, releases natural endorphins, and helps protect the heart.