We’re called to create a better world, but what about the more immediate task of creating our own lives? Inspired by a quote of Thomas Merton. Limited series (2016-2017) that explored running as a spiritual practice and humor as a tool for survival. Hosted by Lily Percy.
[S2] Hari Kondabolu: Comedy Is Therapeutic but Not Therapy
“My mom has a very dark sense of humor. I think that’s how I learned how to recycle pain.”
Hari Kondabolu is not your average stand-up comedian. He has a Masters in Human Rights and worked as an immigrants rights organizer — all of which you hear in his writing. His jokes simultaneously bring about discomfort and a nod of the head, without sounding preachy. He uses comedy as a coping mechanism for addressing complex issues of race, identity, and ethnicity post 9/11.
[S2] Sam Sanders: If I Can Laugh With You, I Can See You
“I cannot tell you how many times laughter has connected me with all different kinds of people throughout the country, of all kinds of political persuasions.”
When politics and comedy mix they can become mean, sarcastic, and divisive. Reporter and NPR Politics Podcast co-host Sam Sanders thoughtfully avoids this. As an African American and Pentecostal growing up near a military base in San Antonio, he was surrounded by people from different class, political, and cultural backgrounds. This helped him develop his thoughtful voice, his objectivity, and his ability to connect to others through jokes and laughter.
[S2] Terry McMillan: Humor Is a Form of Hope
“I don’t think that humor is evasive at all. It’s how we protect our hearts from just bleeding to death.”
Bestselling author Terry McMillan knows how to write funny yet complex female characters: Savannah in Waiting to Exhale, Stella in Stella’s Got Her Groove Back, and Georgia in her latest novel, I Almost Forgot About You. Whether they’re wrestling with heartbreak, grief, or loneliness, these women use humor to face whatever life throws at them. But these characters are simply taking the lead from their creator, who sees humor as a way of “protect[ing] our hearts from just bleeding to death.”
[S2] Amichai Lau-Lavie: Deep Laughter in the Place of the Deepest Pain
“Humor is always about ‘as if.’ And it just relaxes everybody. We’re going to laugh.”
Transparent creator Jill Soloway describes Amichai Lau-Lavie as “a God-optional, patriarchy-toppling, Jewish modern mind.” He uses humor to connect — to himself and others, his family, his sexual identity, and his spiritual life. The rabbi says the Jewish people have endured because of their ability to laugh at themselves and, in this way, laugh at the world.
[S2] Heidi N. Moore: When It Comes to Finance and Comedy, It’s All About Patterns
“What makes humor is pattern recognition. Finance is very helpful on that front because there are a lot of patterns that keep repeating themselves.”
Heidi N. Moore uses humor as a tool for understanding the world of finance. She tells stories about the people behind the money — why they do what they do and how they do it, and has done so for many years as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and Marketplace. By humanizing something as intimidating as finance, she helps people actually understand it.
[S2] Daniel José Older: How We Love Is by Roasting Each Other
“Humor reminds me a lot of magic, in that there’s no way to quite replicate it. There’s a power to that”
The humor in Daniel José Older’s writing makes his characters come alive. Whether in the playful banter of books like Shadowshaper, in his spiritual practice of Lucumí, or alchemizing tragedy into comedy as a paramedic in New York City, he sees humor as key to finding a storytelling voice.