While absorbing the news about the fanatical murders of the Charlie Hebdo staff, I was reminded of something Mr. Lewis Black said on a talk show. In the stand-up routine, ‘The End of the Universe’, he wraps up the show talking about faith. He talks about the importance of balancing faith with a sense of humor. In course of the segment, he says, “…and that’s what happens when you don’t laugh. You get all wound up in what you’re believing in and nobody goes ‘eh,heh’ and you’re ..you’re screwed.”
That is the role of a satirist in our society; to go ‘eh heh’, when group-think takes over people’s minds. Especially in today’s era of ubiquitous information, it is easy to isolate ourselves by cherry picking whatever suits us without regard for reality, relevance or context, then twist it to suit our base emotions.
Satirists, break the shell of insular thoughts. They unravel the cocoon of delusion through biting humor, raising doubts on unchecked emotions. Whether we laugh at their jokes or are frustrated by them, their message rankle, keeping us close to reality.
This is why the world mourns the people at Charlie Hebdo, because underneath the insanity of killing over cartoons, lies the absurdity of unexamined reality.