In times of tragedy, I resort to humor

Illustration by Rachel Dugo
Illustration by Rachel Dugo

People say laughter is the best medicine, and I couldn’t agree more.

To keep from getting too bogged down about tragic events, horrific news stories or troubling pandemics, I indulge in a healthy dose of “too-soon” jokes.

Whether the joke comes from me or I hear it from someone else, there’s always a laugh following the initial, “Whoa. Too soon.”

Some would say it’s disrespectful to have a few laughs about tragic events, but I’d like to think otherwise.

Let me give a few examples:

“EEEBOLAAAAAA,” to the tune of the Ricola shout. That one got a few laughs from the people in the newsroom at my summer internship.

Or from a few years back, that infamous Twitter post after Osama Bin Ladin’s capture, “R.I.P. Osama Bin Laden — World Hide-and-Go-Seek Champion (2001-2011).”

In most cases, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to post too-soon jokes on social media sites. People can receive a lot of flack about publicly posting inappropriate humor.

But what’s a little harmless, dry wit among friends? We come together in times of sadness to comfort each other. It makes no sense to wallow in sadness for too long when a person can make light of a situation through humor.

Many people shy away from too-soon jokes out of fear of being offensive. For example, when Whitney Houston was found dead in a hotel room, many questioned, “Is it too soon to crack jokes?”

I understand the apprehension, but it’s called “too-soon” for a reason.

Timing might not be everything, but a little bit of censorship has to come with the territory. “Too-soon” is fine, but the dreaded “too-far” joke is never appreciated.

There’s a little sense of guilt that comes with the giggles following a too-soon joke, but never so much so that no one laughs.

It’s not that I don’t find Ebola serious, or that I don’t feel sympathy when people pass away. Joking around is simply my best coping mechanism.

I don’t make too-soon jokes to offend, disrespect or stir up controversy. I make them because life is too short not to laugh.

Julianna Eveland can be reached at [email protected] or @janeca12 on Twitter.