Humor 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 humor, but then poetry doesn't touch the psyche as deeply as humor. 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 humor, our ears are pricked and our guard is down, such that truth easily trickles into the hidden recesses of the soul. Of course, good humor doesn't just leave us laughing. Good humor 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 at, and weep at.
At the personal level humor 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. Humor 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, and more importantly, wisdom, with respect to God, begins this way too.
At the social and philosophical level, humor 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 humorists. Is our nation confident enough to face the test of humor? 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; its always fun pulling down tall poppies. So is it satire that is alive and well in our nation, or is it sarcasm, the lowest form of wit? And how about the business of exposing sacred cows? Would I be wrong in suggesting that we have more sacred cows today than ever? Like that distant past when royal and religious blasphemy was illegal, we are creating laws today against a whole range of social blasphemies, sacred cows never to be prodded.