Question : OSHO, I LAUGH SO MUCH AT YOUR JOKES. I WOULD LIKE TO ASK ONE QUESTION: WHY DOES A JOKE CREATE SO MUCH LAUGHTER?
Osho : ONE THING: you have never been allowed to laugh; your laughter is repressed. It is like a repressed spring – any excuse is enough and it comes out. You have been taught to be sad, long faces; you have been taught to be serious.
If you are serious, nobody thinks that you are doing something wrong; it is accepted, it is the way things have to be. But if you are laughing, laughing too much, then people will start feeling embarrassed by you. They will start thinking something is weird:’Why is this man laughing’?”
And if you are laughing without any reason, then you are mad; then they will take you to the psychiatrist; then they will hospitalize you. They will say, ”He laughs without any reason! Only mad people laugh without any reason.”
In a better world, in a more civilized world, in a really civilized world, laughter will be accepted as natural. Only when a person is sad will we hospitalize him. Sadness is illness: laughter is health. So, because you have not been allowed to laugh. any small excuse… jokes are excuses to laugh; you can laugh without being called mad.
You can say, ”Because of the joke….” And a joke has a mechanism: it helps you uncoil. The whole mechanism of a joke is very complex in a way simple-looking; deep down very complex. A joke is not a joke! It is a difficult phenomenon.
In a few words, in a few lines, it can create such a change in the whole climate. What happens?
When a joke is told, first you start expecting that there is going to be some laughter. You are ready for it. You autohypnotize yourself; you become alert. You may have been dozing and sleeping, but now there is a joke you become alert.
Your backbone is straight; you listen attentively. You become more aware. And then the story goes on in such a way that it creates more and more tension in you. You want to know the conclusion. The joke goes on one plane, and there seems to be nothing much like a joke in it, and then there is a sudden turn…. That sudden turn releases your spring.
You become tense and tense because you are waiting and waiting and waiting… and you see that there seems to be nothing much in it. And then suddenly it is there! And it is so suddenly there, so out of the blue, that you forget your seriousness, that you forget who you are, that you become a child again in that suddenness – and you laugh.
And your repressed laughter is released. Jokes simply show that the society has forgotten how to laugh. In a better world where people will be laughing more, we will miss one thing: the joke. There will be no need – people will be laughing and people will be happy. Why?
Each moment will be a moment of laughter. And if you can see life, it is ALL joke. But you are not allowed to see! Blinkers have been put on your eyes; you are only allowed to see so much. You are not allowed to see the ridiculousness of it – it IS ridiculous!
Children can see it more easily; that’s why children are laughing more easily and more loudly. And they create embarrassment in parents, because they can see the whole nonsense of it. And the blinkers are not yet fixed. The father goes on saying to the child, ”Be true, always be true!”
And then a man knocks on the door, and the father says, ”Go and tell him that father is not at home.” Now the child… the father cannot see what is happening, but the child laughs. He cannot believe what is happening – this is ridiculous! And the child goes to the stranger knocking on the door and he says,
”Father says he is not at home.” He takes the whole juice out of it. He enjoys every bit of it. We live with blinkers. We are cultivated in such a way that we don’t see the ridiculousness of life; otherwise it is ridiculous. That’s why sometimes even without a joke, in some small thing… for example: Ford slipped and fell on the ground. Why did people who were standing there have a good laugh? They may not have shown it, but they had a good laugh.
Just think: if a beggar slips on a banana peel, nobody will bother; but a president of a country slips on a banana peel – the whole world will laugh. Why? Because the banana peel brought things right!
That banana peel showed to the president that he is as much a human being as a beggar. And the banana peel makes no difference at all. Come beggar, come president, come prime minister, makes no difference. A banana peel is a banana peel; it does not bother.
If an ordinary man falls, you will have a little laughter but not much, because he is an ordinary man; he never tried to prove that he is more than life size – so there is not much laughter. But if a president slips on a banana peel, suddenly the ridiculousness of it, the reality of it, that this man was thinking that he was at the top of the world – whom were you trying to befool? – even a banana peel is not befooled. And you laugh.
Watch… wherever you laugh, the ridiculousness of life has entered through your blinkers. You are again a child. A joke brings you back your childhoodness, your innocence. For a moment it helps the blinkers to slip from the eyes.