He isn’t the funniest late night comedian. But he is, in my opinion, one of the top three. I rarely watch him anywhere but on YouTube, well after the fact. But his monologue about the birth of his son had me riveted. Is it possible to dry yourself out completely and turn yourself to powder just by crying? That’s what it felt like.
If you haven’t already seen it, you should. But having a heart means you will need something to mop up the tears. The people whose job it is to make you laugh sometimes make a more important point by making you cry. True, I may be more affected by his story about spending time in an ER in agony over what happens next to your child because I have been there with my own children. I have lived it. And the story he tells brings it all back like the storm has started raining sledge hammers instead of rain. But anyone with at least a little bit of empathy will get the point he is trying to make.
Humor is like that. It makes you laugh to soften the pain. But it also makes you cry because that is how it changes you for the better.
In Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I find a lot of things to laugh it. The schemes of the King and Duke are ridiculous and they get what’s coming to them by the end. Yet, I cried at the part where Huck finds the dead body of his young friend Buck Grangerford shot to death in the creek by the feuding Shepherdsons. It was a totally brutal and senseless death. And we learn more about the hypocrisy of slavery and its injustice and cruelty by the sadder, more painful things that happen to Jim along the journey. Humor is meant to be weapon against the things that harm us. And sometimes the people who harm us.
It is relatively easy to laugh at the mutant racist orangutan we accidentally elected to lead us. But the laughing part is not the part we need right now.
The damage he is doing may be permanent and irreparable. He is trying to profit off of health care reform and destroying it in ways that may kill many of us. He may have already done permanent harm to the environment by removing regulations with executive orders. There is reason not only to be moved to tears, but to be horrified to the point that we need to take immediate action.
Jimmy Kimmel has been through a hard thing and deserves our empathy. But even more that that, if you heard the appeal at the end of his monologue, the tears he made us cry are reason to take action, and thank him for his courage in using his tragic moment to lead the way.