The Necessity of Laughter in the Age of Trump
“Why are you laughing?”
Throughout my 1994-1995 fifth grade year, this would be a common question I would be asked. Not because I was the clown by any means, but because I found laughter to be therapeutic.
You see, fifth grade was a rough year. My classmates and I had an authoritarian teacher who saw fit to punish all of us for the actions of a select few. It was the epitome of bad teaching, but unfortunately my peers and I had no way to remedy the situation. Even when we were seemingly behaving well, our teacher found some minor infraction that took away our privileges, which in many cases end up being recess. As the year progressed, students would lash out which would only reinforce our teacher’s belief that we were uncontrollable and that our punishments were deserved. It was a vicious cycle and one that threatened to leave us all in a state of perpetual rage.
For myself, the only way I could cope with the situation was to laugh. Not in a mocking way but rather a way that reflected the absurdity of the situation. Looking back, I believe my reaction was based on Richard Dreyfuss’ character in Jaws, who would react to the absurdity of his situation by laughing. Eleven-year-old Trevor saw the logic in this as I, too, found it to be therapeutic to simply laugh off another missed recess or other unnecessary punishment. While my peers left class angry and bitter, I was upbeat because I had already laughed away all my frustration. We all somehow survived that fifth grade year, but it was how we survived that would leave a lasting impact on each and every one of us.
Flash forward 23(!) years and I find myself in another untenable situation. This time it is not a teacher frustrating me but a wannabe dictator. This time it is not my class that is angry and bitter but my entire country of 330 million fellow brothers and sisters. Working as a community organizer, each day I see pain and suffering caused by this callous motherf*cker. A deported husband. A veteran not receiving needed services. A teenage mom struggling to get health care. An opioid addict unable to find a ride to treatment. Yet these are just the local issues. I’ve also seen our beloved President Obama’s legacy tarnished by a vindictive, petty man who makes decisions out of sheer spite. Asylum seekers and DREAMers are stuck in a perpetual limbo. We are closing our doors to a generation of talented Muslim immigrants. And we lost 4,600 hundred Puerto Rican brothers and sisters because we have a racist administration that welcomes the death of black and brown people, even if they are American citizens.
It’s enough to make my head spin.
But like all of us, I’ve found ways to cope with the absurdity of the situation. I frequent the gym four times a week to vent out my frustrations. I hike or bike as the New England seasons permit. I visit my friends, whose young children don’t share my incessant need to speculate on Robert Mueller’s investigation. I find solace in writing and hearing about the lives of our online community. I read, both books prevalent to my profession but also ones that take me to far, far away places like the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. I do themed video collages of music videos from everything from boy bands to holidays. I watch college and professional sports and I hope that my fantasy football team doesn’t let me down.
And, once again, I laugh.
I seek out humorous videos and clips on YouTube, especially ones that mock this current abominable administration. Fortunately, there is no shortage of these videos and for me they reaffirm what I first learned in fifth grade: I need laughter to survive absurd situations. We all find our ways to cope and seek self-care and laughter has been one to my go-to practices these past two years. I’ve been especially enthralled with the work of a gentleman named Randy Rainbow who has combined two of my favorite things: Broadway musicals and mocking Donnie Smallhands. For me, it is truly music to my hears (pun intended) and Randy’s creative genius hits just the right note of mockery to make it all worth while.
So, with all that in mind I offer you the music of Randy Rainbow to kick back and relax after what has been a trying week. Like my fifth grade year, this too, shall pass. And when it does, we will all move on, all 330 million of us together, having successfully survived the most absurd period of American history to date.
This is your weekend self-care open thread inspired by the musical genius of one, Randy Rainbow.
Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.