If you’ve been watching my Twitter feed or listening to Stay Tuned or you came to last week’s live show, you know that I’ve been deeply interested in the importance of laughter and humor in times of stress and crisis. I think about it a lot; I make a deliberate habit to retain a sense of humor when things are bleak.
There are some scolds who don’t share this perspective, and while I guess I can respect that point of view, I strongly disagree with it and hope that those who hold it are few in number.
At the end of the live show with Ben Stiller, Garry Kasparov, and Alexander Vindman (a video of which is now available exclusively to CAFE Insiders), I noted that we had laughed a bit, learned a bit, and perhaps even learned by laughing. I told the story of Abraham Lincoln who, back in September of 1862, was dealing with the heaviness of war and death. It was just five days after the bloody battle of Antietam when Lincoln gathered his cabinet and unveiled the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. And notwithstanding the weighty issues of war and slavery and freedom and notwithstanding the uncertainty of Union success and the certainty of more Union losses, Lincoln did what? He took the opportunity to read a funny story to the men. Upon finishing Lincoln said this: “Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh? With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.”