Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why Don't People Laugh Anymore?

A lot has been said about Shashi Tharoor and his tweet (for the story click here). If the folks in power did not find it funny, the least they could have done was keep silent instead of branding Tharoor as insensitive. I am sure he had no intention to hurt anyone. It was a spontaneous reply to a question. I personally found it funny, though I do think he should tweet less and work more.

A child they say laughs around 300 times a day. As he grows to an adult he laughs less, as few as 15 times a day. The Indian politician, not only stops laughing but loses his sense of humour.

I think more of our politicians could do with some laughter and cheer. It is ironical that Tharoor seems to have forgotten his earlier writings. Much before he joined the political scene, he wrote in The Hindu ( 2001), that as far as political humour is concerned, our national cupboard is bare. The Indian nationalist leaders and the politicians, he said, are a humourless lot; and if the incidence of wit and humor in national politics is a fair indication of the health of a democracy, India could use a good laugh.

Well, not everyone can be an Al Gore. He lost a closely fought election and one would think he would be very bitter person. But the former presidential candidate for a long time began his speeches with “Hello, my name is Al Gore, and I used to be the next president of the United States.” And it won him many admirers.

Humour, especially in public life or in general can help defuse a tense situation. One can even play safe by allowing the joke to be targeted at themselves, to ensure none are offended. Self-deprecation has its advantages. Psychologist Michael Cunningham says "Self-effacing humor isn't threatening because it points out that a someone is confident enough to risk looking silly." But a word of caution - Don’t poke fun at yourself simply so someone else defends the opposite. This will appear manipulative and narcissistic.

Laughter they say is good for health, and triggers release of endorphins, the natural painkillers and induces a sense of well being. As Grouch Marx is reported to have said ...yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it - cartoon source


  1. Holy cow...! Maybe Tharoor is still in the USA, mentally! As far as I recollect, very rarely our politicians use 'humour' in their speeches. Very less exceptions are there. I saw Jayapradha's interview in India TV (Aap ki adalat). When she was questioned, she replied every question with a touch of humour. Another person is Farooque Abdullah!

    I agree with you completely about 'laughter is the best medicine' saying.

    I respected Al Gore a lot. I saw his interview in Oprah Winfrey's show. He was very good. But Bush won. He replied to most of the questions with too much emotion...tears in his eyes, etc.

    I enjoyed this post, Radha. Very interesting one.

  2. I think 'humorous politician' is the greatest oxymoron of all time....

  3. Very interesting post... the 300 times a day is probably still close to accurate for me, but that's probably because I'm really easily amused. :) I'm gonna remember this stat!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, I appreciate the comments! :) <3

    Jenn (Ex Hot Girl)

  4. Yes, our politicians would certainly benefit from a sense of humour! I think far too much was made of Shashi Tharoor's tweeting.

    BTW-That cartoon is great!'Evolution of humour'- Lol!

  5. Hmmm... Now I can't decide whether to leave a funny comment or a serious one. But I'll try to laugh more than 15 times a day.
    Good post Radha. Keep them coming.

  6. I think people are sniggering more than they are laughing.

  7. Really nice, I do follow sashi tharoor on twitter and its good fun..His comments are very conveniently blown out of proportion by humourless politicians, even going ahead and asking for his

    Also he was recently asked by sonia gandhi to move out of a 5* hotel where he was staying past 4 months, which he paid for. Reason- a politician staying in a 5* hotel is not a good example for the cattleclass..I am sure if politicians stop staying in 5* hotels then soon will run out of business.

    Nice cartoon¬

  8. I couldn't agree with you more ma on two counts:

    a. I laughed lots when I read the Tweet the first time.
    b. We definitely stop laughing as much as we grow older.

    Sour puss.

  9. True, we dont laugh and have much sense of humour, but I think thta if one is holding some important post, then he also jhas to have sense of propriety....its not about the person but his stature according to his designation.

  10. A smile does go a mile :-)

    Politicians now do not have the intellect, and are a generally insecure lot.

  11. Nice post. Loved it. Many Indian politicians have no humor. They don’t even smile. They always look like they are going to a funeral. On the other hand, American politicians are very funny and jovial.

    On Mother’s Day, President Obama said this about his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.
    "He's not used to saying the word 'day' after 'mother”

    Here is what Laura Bush told an audience when her husband was still the President:
    I am married to the president of the United States, and here's our typical evening: Nine o'clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep, and I'm watching DesperateHousewives.

    Can any Indian politician or their spouse can joke this in public?

  12. Nice post! I agree with you that an average adult laughs lesser and lesser. But I believe in the fact that if tomorrow never comes, I should not regret not laughing today. So I smile a lot and try to laugh as much as I can along with my kid :)

  13. I believe a natural humour comes with a large heart.Little wonder our politicos lack it being highly self centred.Only a person with high self confidence can indulge in humour and even enjoy one at his/her expense.I thought Tharoor would be eased out for his 'indiscretion' but luckily stays there.
    Thanks for your comments.Only the latest story was a bit depressing .Others are of different themes.Pl make a random choice and see for yourself


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