How Comedy Can Transport Us Beyond the Walls of Conformity
I loved the first season of Amazon’s, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. For me, it is timely historical fiction at its best. It features the story of a woman in the 1950’s who starts to question the tightly wound structure of her reality after her husband unexpectedly leaves her. Throwing herself into the world of stand-up comedy, she finds she has a natural talent for it. Her first two times in front of the microphone, she gets arrested for obscenity but it is really because she went beyond the bounds of where society felt safe. On the show, she becomes friends with Lenny Bruce, comedy’s pioneer crusader for seeking truth outside of society’s comfort zone. Lenny helped pave the way for the wild men and women who dared to laugh at the elephants and asses in the room.
Comedians have the prerogative to laugh at what we hide behind. They are the ones that get to speak truth to conformity and fear. The wildest comedians have a driving ambition to break out of all constraints.
I remember watching John Belushi on Saturday Night Live and in Animal House, and feeling that he might actually be able to explode right out of his body.
Comedians like Mel Brooks were my first heroes. They brought a zaniness to life that seemed to expand its possibilities for me. By the time I was in High School, I actively declared, “Normalcy is a fallacy!” I had caught the same bug that prompts the comedian to go beyond boundaries, to discover a larger, less confined space in which to dance.
The wildness of many comedians, conventionally, has been associated with alcohol and drugs, which can break down walls of inhibition. There is a labyrinth of defenses that we have built around us, not only individually and culturally, but historically as a race. So, while the conventional means of breaking down a few barriers seems to work, part of us may yearn to find another way to go out past our collective defenses.
Jim Carey started off as a wild comedian, who seemed like he could turn his body into rubber and bounce off the walls into another dimension. After making the film, “Man on the Moon,” about Andy Kaufman, another comedian who pushed reality to the edge, Jim went on an odyssey to learn how to transcend societies’ corral.
Recently, I watched Jim’s 2014 commencement speech at the Maharishi University of Management. It is well worth watching. He is still his animated best, but has come to a calm place within that is not limited by his physical form.
Jim Carrey’s Commencement Address at the 2014 Maharishi University of Management:
Jim then grew the long beard, that has become associated with philosophers, gurus and seekers. He began to risk sounding insane while talking to the paparazzi, declaring that he didn’t exist, that he was just another character, like the many colorful characters in his 40 films.
“I played the guy that was free from concern so the people who watched me would be free from concern.”- Jim Carey
Jim is identifying, not as a “Me” but as the energy that animates all things.
“It’s a play, it’s a giant field of consciousness dancing for itself. “
“We all long to belong, and the truth is, we do. We already belong to the wholeness within us and every living thing. The plethora of groups, communities, circles, families, here on our planet are like flowers, they allow for variance of taste to offer us the opportunity to connect to the beauty that we are. However we connect to this wholeness, the joy lies in our ability to celebrate it within our interactions.”
“The effect that you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. All that will be left of you will be what was in your heart.”- Jim Carey
I am grateful for the drive that continues to play with reality and wake us up from complacency. Waking up to the richness of being, provides so much to rejoice in. I am especially thankful for the bouquet of interactions that I have with everything around me, especially you. This certainly is a wild ride that affords us the chance to literally laugh our asses off.