Monday, May 16, 2011

The Wit of God

As a person who has been a student of public speaking for many years now, I have always been interested in what makes people laugh. Back when I did "After Dinner Public Speaking" in college, (basically competitive stand up comedy), I remember several key factors being tricks of the trade. For example, for some reason "k's" are the funniest syllable in the alphabet. Somehow it's not that funny to say, "a goat walked into a bar." Much funnier is, "a duck walked into a bar." Timing is, of course, important. Too slow, and the audience feels the comedian is not smart. Too fast and the audience thinks the comedian is nervous or scattered. Three beat and four beat meter is essential. In other words, the three beat rimshot (ba bam bam), the four beat, this happened, this happened this happened, and then this...

Every once in a while I discover an example of the wit of God. Jesus was actually quite witty. Now, let me be clear - Jesus wasn't really funny, or comedic, or whimsical. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Jesus was ever a Jay Leno, or a David Letterman. But Jesus was definitely witty. Jesus' humor was usually on the very dry side. Think sandpaper. Jesus usually said things that nobody else picked up on as being funny, or witty, until much, much later. Jesus' wit was almost always lost on his audience.

Here's one I stumbled on last week. So, Jesus dies. Jesus comes back to life again. Jesus meets a couple of wayward disciples on a deserted road, on the way to a deserted city named Emmaus (strange - and strangeness is always the foreplay of humor). Jesus asks the men, "What are you talking about?" "What's the skinny?" "Give me the low down?" "What's the skuttle butt?" (witty - Jesus is God, he knows what they are talking about already). They tell him about the death of Jesus and what had happened over the weekend. "Is that so?" said Jesus (witty). The audience (us) all know what has really happened. But here's the kicker. The men ask Jesus if he will join them for dinner that evening in Emmaus. Jesus says, "Sorry, I have long way to go still." (witty, verging on funny). Jesus, of course, still needed to ascend into heaven, so he had both a literal and a metaphorical long way to go. This line is reminiscent of Robert Frost's (a decidedly unwitty person) line, "miles and miles before I sleep." As I said, Jesus' humor wasn't the sort of thing you would ever yuck up, or knee slap over, but it's witty...

But I do I love that God has and had a sense of humor. It would seem to be a Godly requirement to have a sense of humor, in order to deal with comedic imbalance of creating a world and a human being that you love with all of your heart, and that doesn't always love you in return.

All For Now,

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