1) creation and birth, joy, sexuality and eroticism, food and intoxicating drinks, feasts and comedies, dancing, ecstasy, madness and wisdom.
2) destruction and death, derision and shame, ridicule and blasphemy, tragedy.
There are, she says, three main theories about why we laugh:
i) The superiority theory thinks about laughter and power: laughter as a tool to make us important, to demonstrate that we are more powerful than other people; as a form of aggression.
"What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing, somebody already told her twice."ii) The incongruity theory thinks that laughter is about the contrast between two different meanings.
"Two fish sitting in a tank. One says to the other: How d'you start this thing?"iii) The relief theory thinks that laughter acts as a safety valve for society: we laugh about the things we usually try to keep locked up, prohibited. We laugh when somebody says the things that you can't say that!
(Lois walks in on Stewie torturing a bully)I love the idea of laughing as openness: as a form of love and hospitality. But maybe it's also a way of forcing open conversations and ways of seeing the world, of challenging the boundaries we put in place to keep us safe and stop us coming into uncomfortable proximity to other people. There's been plenty of media comment recently about comedians crossing the line from funny and edgy into offensive (Frankie Boyle, anyone?), and while sometimes I think it's about rightly objecting to cruelty, it's probably also about resistance to that forcing open of the comfortable little corners of the world that we inhabit.
Stewie: We're playing house...
Lois: But that kid is all tied up!
Stewie: Roman Polanski's house.
Photo credit: hersley on Flickr.