/Laughing out loud

Laughing out loud

By Jim Poling Sr.

Published Dec. 24, 2018 


It is indeed a wonderful life, especially when we begin laughing at ourselves.


is a magic elixir that improves our lives. It is a bonding agent that
calms conflict and helps us get along with each other. We need more of
it in an increasingly troubled and angry world. 

Judging by some recent television viewing, we are getting more if it.


example, NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL) is giving us strong doses of
laughter by poking fun at the train wreck of American politics. A train
wreck that is causing hardship and division around the world.

recent parody of the 1946 movie It’s A Wonderful Life is an example of
how laughing at ourselves better equips us to face the madness
surrounding us.

little memory jog: In the movie, George Bailey, played by actor James
Stewart, is overwhelmed by problems and decides to jump off a bridge and
end his life. A wingless angel named Clarence appears and shows him
what George’s town would have looked like without all his work over the


SNL version has Donald Trump, overwhelmed by problems, wishing he had
never become president. Enter Clarence the angel who shows Trump what
life would be like if he had not become president.

is divorced and speaks clearly and without an accent. “They said being
around you was hurting my language skills,” she tells Trump.

Pence is a DJ at a White House Christmas party, happy and thankful that
he did not have to sit in meetings as vice-president and look
stone-faced bored and stupid.

the end of the 1946 movie the little daughter of George Bailey tells
her dad that whenever a bell rings, an angel has received its wings.

the SNL version, Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s mouthpieces, says to
her boss: “Every time a bell rings, somebody you know quits, or goes to


television also has us laughing at ourselves with the popular CBC show
Still Standing. It is a hybrid comedy-reality series in which
Newfoundland comedian Jonny Harris visits small Canadian towns that have
gone through hard times.

also seen in the Murdoch Mysteries TV series, gives stand-up comedy
shows in front of locals who have stuck it out in their towns, getting
them to laugh at themselves. Along with the stand-up routine are video
clips of Harris doing stuff with some of the residents.


instance in a recent show from Wells, B.C. (population 245) Harris
takes a side-by-side four-wheeler pedal bike ride along a snowy street
with resident writer-actor-director James Douglas. Douglas is the
filmmaker behind The Doctor’s Case, an award-winning movie based on a
Stephen King short story.



the ride Harris and his TV audience  learn about the town’s founder,
Fred Wells, who discovered gold there. Wells was a mining boom town
during the 1930s but as mining waned so did the town. Then in the 1970s
hippies moved in, buying vacant houses and properties and established an
arts community. 

town now is a mix of artists and miners, a dichotomy that Harris
explores along with its stories and aspirations, weaving in jokes about
the town and its people. 

towns Harris visits all have something sad in their past. A fishery
collapsed and young people moved away. A logging operation closed,
cancelling most of the town’s jobs. 

Standing recognizes the melancholy produced by past events but finds
humour that helps the residents laugh, or at least smile, at themselves.
It also recognizes their resilience in staying on and working at
building a strong community spirit.


is a show that makes you feel good despite difficulties and reinforces
the age-old message that good people overcome bad things when they laugh
and work together.

how one person on Twitter described a Still Standing episode: “I needed
that. The world (and my Twitter feed) has been so UGH. @jollyharris and
@StillStandingTV gives hope, spreads light & humor and shows us the
best of people.”

all need more of this. Hopefully we will see more of it as we enter
2019, which some folks say will bring continuing social, economic,
political and climate upheaval.