Do jokes cheapen serious subjects?

Laugh oh laugh oh laughYesterday’s blog was a diary piece by comedy critic Kate Copstick, basically about the very tragic plight of child brides in Kenya. At the end, she mentioned (factually) a small kitten she had encountered.

After the blog was posted, there was a comment by ‘Glenda’:


It’s all very worthy and honourable Kate Copstick blogging about the plight of these African woman and drawing our attention to their wretched existence, but the seriousness of this situation is eclipsed by an adolescent remark at the end of the article about a cat’s balls. And unfortunately, the witty remark about a cat’s balls is what registers on the reader’s mind and the serious issue concerning these African women is simply forgotten.


After this, another reader, ‘Sandy Mac’ commented:


In grim situations the use of humour, whichever form it takes, reduces tension and lifts the spirits. At least I’ve always found it to be a good coping strategy. Personally, I didn’t feel that the ending detracted from the seriousness of the article, or in any way diluted the message.


I can see both are valid viewpoints.

In Kenya, Copstick’s view of Glenda’s opinion was:


OK. Fair comment. But it is more of a comment on her that she is so readily distracted. The diaries need light and shade… however it is a fair point. Although I really object to being deemed worthy and honourable.


These apparently opposing opinions on adding light to shade link to Edinburgh Fringe ‘comedy’ shows where often very, very serious subjects are lightened by laughter. Does adding humour to something very serious dumb-down and demean the subject? I would be interested to hear other opinions.

(Note: I may quote and credit any comments)

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Writing

One response to “Do jokes cheapen serious subjects?

  1. To find humour in any situation is to be human. As a whole article I don’t feel it detracts from the points above it, except to continue the ethos this blog is entitled after ‘So it goes’… As for the debate of serious subjects being trivialised through comedy in an edinburgh show. I consider that a question of how its implemented ; There is no such thing as a hack subject , merely a hack approach.

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