At the beginning of the pandemic, my Instagram feed and inbox were flooded with memes that made light of our new normal. And although I once viewed this viral trend as a lazy way of communicating jokes, I became a fast convert. Even friends of mine who weren’t particularly active on social media started forwarding me their daily meme discoveries—my current favourite being Instagram account @mycovidjourney. It occurred to me that people were translating their anxieties and pain through a comedic lens in a way and frequency I’ve never seen before.
Comedy has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. It’s a means of survival, and as much a part of my wellness and self-care routine as my daily beauty regimen. It’s how I start and end my days and how I communicate, and is fundamental to my mental health. In my view, the best comedians and creators of comedy serve as therapists and truth-seekers who provide a lighthearted perspective on the often painful and absurd human experience.
To make people laugh is an act of service and kindness we seldom acknowledge. Whether it’s Fran Lebowitz’s achingly hilarious comedic essays in Metropolitan Life, Dave Chappelle’s wildly provocative stand-up specials, or Christopher Guest’s inimitable mockumentaries, it takes real intellect and imagination to examine everyday struggles and current events and articulate them in a style that resonates and triggers a universal reaction. Take, for instance, our Fall 2020 cover star Rashida Jones’s latest turn in Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, where she and co-star Bill Murray navigate a generational divide, a complicated father-daughter dynamic, and suspected infidelity, all through the lens of an adventure comedy around the metropolis of New York.
With each passing month, in a time of increasing division and uncertainty, comedy’s role becomes more vital than ever in banding us together. And in a year of divine realizations, it’s time to celebrate comedy, acknowledge its significance in our lives, and start referring to it as the art form it truly is.