Thursday, May 20, 2010

Laughing At Zombies: Humor in the Face of Adversity

So why is their laughter and humor in As The World Dies?

Though we generally regard laughing as a depiction of joy/happiness or a response to something funny, laughter is so much more. Laughter is a stress reliever, a healer, and a way to cope in adverse situations.

I know this from experience. I had an awful childhood. I often felt like the quote from Jim Morrison of The Doors applied to my family: "No one gets out of here alive." Because of the horrors I went through with my father, I feel I can survive anything. In fact, surviving my childhood is one of my greatest accomplishments. Finding healing an even greater one. Finding happiness in adulthood has been the ultimate one.

I found healing in several ways. First was my faith, second was going to therapy and being part of a support group, the third was working for several years helping create a faith-based support group to deal with domestic violence, the fourth was writing (a lot) and the last was laughter.

Yeah, laughter.

I can tell the most horrific, terrifying stories from my childhood and laugh. Of course, it took years to get to this point, but laughter makes the memories easier to handle and takes away their sting. Laughter has been an enormous healer.

When I decided to deal with the full impact of a dying world on my survivors, I knew mourning would be an intricate part of their character development. But I also knew the healing from that grief would also be vital to the characters. Laughter became a part of that equation.

A dark humor fills all three books and I have had readers tell me the books are surprisingly funny. This only seemed natural to the world as I worked on the story. At one point, I worried that many the characters at times were too glib. But then I was talking to some friends who had been in the military and they began to recount how a morose humor takes over when things become difficult to deal with. My father in law and mother in law both were in the military and I have listened to them tell countless stories that are gruesome with a twist of humor. Laughter and humor are ways for the mind to cope with things that are too terrible to bear.

We've all been there.

We laugh at something completely inappropriate and can't stop ourselves.

Funniest Home Videos has had a long run pushing our funny buttons with humor that is often questionable. We know we shouldn't laugh at the baby falling face first into the mud or the dad getting smacked in the balls by his toddler, but we do anyway.

Laughter isn't just about humor. It's about being relieved we're not the ones falling into the mud or getting a bat to the groin.

Or maybe laughter comes from finding the humor in the zombie bashing itself apart on the wall trying to get to you as you watch it from above knowing you're safe.

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