OPINION

Mid-week Musings || Lack of humility means the joke is on us

Not joking: Tom Gleeson after winning the Gold Logie at the 2019 Logie Awards. Photo Darren England AAP.

Not joking: Tom Gleeson after winning the Gold Logie at the 2019 Logie Awards. Photo Darren England AAP.

In a 2012 television interview, the great Sir David Attenborough was asked why he referred to himself as an agnostic, rather than an atheist.

Attenborough explained that, when he had taken the top off a termite hill and seen termites - building walls, looking after the queen, cleaning the nest - he realized these termites had no idea that he was watching them because they were all blind.

Attenborough realized that, just as these termites do not have the senses to know he is watching over them, then perhaps we are lacking in certain senses to know whether someone else is watching over us.

I've been asked more than a few times, "Why do you always start your articles with a joke?"

I've denied that I've always started with a joke, which some have argued with me about, which is a joke in itself.

There are lots of reasons I could give for starting articles with a joke, and some of them would even be true: that even adults like hearing bedtime stories; it makes reaching my word limit easier; if someone has read most of an article they're more likely to finish it; I'm only truly to myself when I'm acting the fool.

But there's a reason that makes me feel sad - I believe we are slowly losing our sense of humour.

The very word "humour" came from "humoral medicine" in existence among both the ancient Greeks and Romans, which taught that human behavior was regulated by bodily chemical systems known as "humours".

More than 15 years ago I performed at a comedy festival in Sydney with about 20 other comedians.

Every other comedian that night used the f-word in their comedy routine.

In fact, often the crowd would not laugh until the seemingly mandatory f-bomb had been dropped.

I got the feeling that night that, had the subjects of sex and insults been banned from their routines, all these comedians would have been literally speechless.

As I was watching a comedy festival on TV earlier this year, I began to muse that nothing had changed.

Perhaps comedians aren't entirely to blame. Perhaps comedians have realised that, unless they shock their audiences, their audiences will not laugh.

The more dedicated comedians will make people laugh, no matter what the price.

Perhaps this explains comedian Tom Gleeson's winning of the Gold Logie on Sunday night.

I think the loss of a sense of humour can almost always be put down to people taking things, and especially themselves, too seriously.

The Gold Logie is the award for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television, and there is no doubt Tom Gleeson is a very funny man, however, after constantly criticising the award and all in the name of humour, Gleeson campaigned to win the award for himself this year, just as he campaigned last year for Grant Denyer to win the Gold Logie, which in fact, he did.

Tom Gleeson has turned the winning of the most prestigious annual award in Australian television into a joke.

Perhaps that's his job as a comedian and he has done nothing wrong.

In one way, it is impressive; in another way, it is a sad reflection of the changing face of our sense of humour.

Perhaps Gleeson and other comedians are rebelling against the ever-snowballing political correctness movement.

Perhaps the PC movement is fruit of the same tree.

I think the loss of a sense of humour can almost always be put down to people taking things, and especially themselves, too seriously.

I think Gleeson alluded to this in his acceptance speech. I believe if people were a little more humble, they would laugh a lot more.

Look how easily children laugh.

Look at how easily the elderly laugh.

But making those laugh in the age brackets between is a much more serious business.

Children and the elderly don't take themselves too seriously. Children and the elderly have a dependence on others and perhaps that humbles them a little.

Perhaps if we all reached out more to other people and tried to work more with others it would create an interdependence and a richness and beauty to life that spending all day looking at a screen on your own can never achieve.

It would take humility, but with humility comes a lot of laughs.