Humour is actually a very high art forms. It is certainly one of the most difficult to master as a medium of "soul" communication. Poetry would probably be up there with humour, but then poetry doesn't touch the psyche as deeply as humour. Not that poetry isn't profound, it's just that so much is lost in the telling. Poetry is really very difficult to understand. With humour, our ears are pricked and our guard is down, such that truth easily trickles into the hidden recesses of the soul. Of course, good humour doesn't just leave us laughing. Good humour will always move toward pathos and leave us with a tear in our eye. Such is the human condition, a condition we can both laugh and weep at.
At the personal level humour serves to release the guilt associated with human frailty. We are all a Mr. Bean, a Mr, or Mrs. Humanbean. We are all selfish, self-centered, individuals, and like Mr. Bean we pay the price for our devotion to self. Humour is a cathartic instrument. It cuts through our self-righteous veneer, exposing the real self and releasing the tension of our imperfection. There is nothing better than a good laugh at ourselves, a laugh that reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. Wisdom begins with an awareness of imperfection. More importantly, right standing in God's sight begins this way too.
At the social and philosophical level, humour serves to test ideals, to expose them to the light of day. Like the Emperor's new cloths our "sacred cows" are seen for what they really are. There is nothing more leveling than the wit of a brilliant satirist. Satire can serve to expose folly and vice more effectively than any other literary form.
It could be said that a nation's worth can be judged by the quality of its humourists. Is our nation confident enough in ourselves to face the test of humour? Do we love ourselves enough, are we self assured enough, to laugh at ourselves, or is there a massive chip on the nation's shoulder? It is always easy to laugh at others, to poke fun, to offend, to belittle others. It is always fun to pull down "tall poppies". So is it satire that is alive and well in our nation, or is it cynicism that is alive and well? How do we rate in the social and philosophical humour stakes? How good are we at exposing "sacred cows"? In many countries the social justice agenda is actually beyond humour, beyond the light of day. Oh well, there's still sarcasm, the lowest form of wit.