The Joke Wins

I like laughter as much (or more) than the next person. I also enjoy noting the absurd and hilarious in otherwise serious subjects (tends to get me in trouble) and, with varying degrees of success (if no one’s laughing it’s probably not funny) sharing things that strike me as funny about them.

Humor is a powerful tool for critique. It can often dull the sharp edge of criticism and help us see our foibles in a ridiculous light. It helps us not take ourselves too seriously. Unfortunately, it can also sharpen an otherwise dull criticism.

In the classic movie, “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” David Niven plays a Broadway critic that has allowed success in his field to go to his head. His friend, played by Richard Haydn, warns,

For a critic that first step is the first printed joke. It gets a laugh and a whole new world opens up. He makes another joke, and another. And then one day along comes a joke that shouldn’t be made because the show he’s reviewing is a good show. But, as it so happens, it’s a good joke. And you know what? The joke wins.

This is an important caution for all of us who critique churches, celebrities, or candidates. There is a place for discerning criticism, but if we are not careful the truth may get lost in our wit. One day something good will lose to the joke.