Last night, I went to the local branch of Kent State University to cover a story for Small Town Newspaper. The local hospital was hosting what they called "a get-together for cancer survivors," and they brought in a comedian/juggler, Scott Burton, who was also a cancer survivor.
I was allowed to speak to him before his show, and the man, someone my age who had a form of cancer about 15 years ago that is typically found in children, was a wise soul. He didn't want to make light of cancer or suggest it's something that can be laughed away, but he recognized that humor is a natural human response and cannot be left out of something even as bad as a scary disease. It's healing and humanity, he said.
During his routine, he was clearly talking to the survivors in the room, and he drew plenty of laughs. I am not part of this club of sorts, and I found that when he talked about laughing at bad times, I wanted to cry. When he said the word "cancer' is frightening, I found it was terribly sad. Seriously, I wanted to shed tears in the audience where everyone else was guffawing at jokes and visual humor.
I wonder why that is? I think I have a pretty fair sense of humor, and I can laugh as an antidote to tragedy like anybody else, but in that setting, I was choked up. I was relieved when the guy switched from his comedy routine to juggling, which was also funny. I could focus on the pins in the air and the golf balls being shot out of his mouth. The rhythm of juggling is mesmerizing, I find, and I am always impressed by how a good juggler can use nearly every body part to keep with the beat they set for themselves.
No. 1 is quite an accomplished juggler, and I like watching her throw things into the air and catch them with such a steady pulse.
Well, back to the comedian—here is a quote of his lifted from an article he wrote for Coping magazine:
"Part of what gives laughter credence is, when we laugh, we let ourselves go. We are not so much in control anymore. We lose ourselves. Our fears dissipate."
Last night during our private interview, he said that when we laugh, we are momentarily filled with something other than ourselves. And who couldn't stand some of that?