When things get tough, sometimes the best way to cope is to find the humor in whatever you are dealing with. A good joke boosts your mood. But more importantly, it can change your perspective and even allow you to look past or live with whatever issue.
That other people share this coping strategy is reflected by the current ratings of American television shows. As the Trump administration - and its anti-immigrant agenda - is pushing the country into an all-time political low, late night TV comedy shows are seeing an all-time high. In fact, having grown up in the U.S. and having lived through several elections and three different presidents, I find that comedians and their role in the public’s political perspective have reached a whole new level. Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah are only a few of the comedians that have consistently ridiculed the American president and the recent affairs on Capitol Hill. In doing so they briefly manage to make light of a pretty unfortunate situation that deeply troubles those disagreeing with the country’s course of action. Thanks to the late TV time slot, viewers can at least count on a good laugh before they wake up to sobering morning headlines.
Ironically, stand-up comedy was brought to America by immigrants. More specific, by Jewish immigrants who came to the U.S. after World War II. While the laughs were first shared exclusively within the community in several East Coast Jewish vacation spots like the Catskill Mountains, the iconic self-deprecating humor in many ways acted as a cross-cultural ice-breaker.
Movie classics from the seventies like Woody Allen’s Annie Hall or Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles are examples of how Jewish humor became part of American culture and eventually laid the groundwork for today's political satire. It's no joke what pro-immigration policies can do for a country.
Nina Schröder, master student Health Food Innovation Management