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  KD MAGAZINE!                    ב"ה   
 
 
     
 

If It's Humorous, Does That Mean It's Funny??
By Rabbi Shea Hecht

Have you noticed what a powerful tool humor is? Humor has many pluses.

 

I would say that more important than the fact that smiling and laughing burns more calories, it allows us to say things that we may not normally be able to say, but become "kosher" under the guise of a joke.

 

There are times that we make humorous comments about some truly dangerous things (like mothers-in-law - just joking). Seriously speaking, humor allows us to lighten weighty issues. Sometimes humor is the only way to survive a difficult situation.

 

Mendy Pellin, a local Chabad comic, did an experiment and the results are more than amusing. However, the results also give us something to consider: "If it's humorous, does that mean it's funny?"

 

Mendy told me, "I did it just for fun, but I myself was shocked by the results."

 

Mendy went out dressed up like a reporter with cameras and crew and took a poll. He was trying to find out if people answer polls because they really believe in the answer or their reply is given just to please the interviewer.


So he went out dressed as himself, a Hassidic Jew, but changing his voice so he would sound like an Israeli, and he asked questions about Middle Eastern politics; then he went out dressed like an Arab, affecting a Muslim accent, and asked the identical political questions.

 

By now, it should come as no surprise that the answers he got depended on how he was dressed and the accent he put on.

 

This can bring us some food for thought about the validity of polls. How valid are the answers that pollsters get? Do they get the answers they are seeking just because people want to please them?

 

In a similar case, a woman working for a news station trying to prove that people reply to pollsters according to what they think they want to hear, walked around at a fair trying to get people to sign a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide - which is just the scientific way of saying water - and came out with equally amusing results.  People didn't ask what the chemical was and they accepted what the woman said the danger was without any further investigation. They listened and signed the petition to ban water.

 

It seems that many times we answer what we think a questioner wants to hear instead of thinking things through and saying what we truly believe. I think we should take a step back and think before we accept poll results as an honest opinion about what people really believe. Because, even though in both the stated cases the poll results were quite humorous they beg us to ask a serious question, "If it's humorous, does that mean it's funny?"

 

***

Rabbi Shea Hecht's website: www.sheahecht.com


 

 
   
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