What better way to understand the world around us than through jokes?
- Slavoj Žižek is a remarkably funny philosopher, who has a joke for every theory and can explain things in a fun way.
- His tendency to joke has helped endear him to the public, though it does sometimes irk curmudgeons.
- Not every joke he makes is suitable for republishing here.
Join Slavoj Žižek live on Big Think today (June 11) at 1 pm ET!<a href="https://youtu.be/weB1rG9xM7k" ><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM4Njk3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzI2OTQ3Nn0.mVk4zmm4ucyRu38dFsB2dmS5TQsO2r4B0fYRzYBI0oQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="d9138" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d22baa978b1e14fd4b5ece40160a2c28" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1500" data-height="844" /></a><p style="text-align: center;">Join the live stream free via <a href="https://youtu.be/weB1rG9xM7k" target="_blank">YouTube</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom/posts/10157408399943527" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, or via <a href="https://www.bigthinkedge.com/" target="_blank">Big Think Edge</a> (for subscribers only).<br></p>
"The task today is to give the protesters red ink."<p style="margin-left: 20px;">In an old joke from the defunct German Democratic Republic, a German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by censors, he tells his friends: "Let's establish a code: if a letter you will get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it is true; if it is written in red ink, it is false." After a month, his friends get the first letter, written in blue ink: "Everything is wonderful here: stores are full, food is abundant, apartments are large and properly heated, movie theaters show films from the West, there are many beautiful girls ready for an affair—the only thing unavailable is red ink."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">And is this not our situation till now? We have all the freedoms one wants—the only thing missing is the "red ink": we "feel free" because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom. What this lack of red ink means is that, today, all the main terms we use to designate the present conflict —"war on terror," "democracy and freedom," "human rights," etc.—are false terms, mystifying our perception of the situation instead of allowing us to think it. The task today is to give the protesters red ink.</p>
Derrida feat. Žižek<p style="margin-left: 20px;">There is an old Jewish joke, loved by Derrida, about a group of Jews in a synagogue publicly admitting their nullity in the eyes of God. First, a rabbi stands up and says: "O God, I know I am worthless. I am nothing!" After he has finished, a rich businessman stands up and says, beating himself on the chest: "O God, I am also worthless, obsessed with material wealth. I am nothing!" After this spectacle, a poor ordinary Jew also stands up and also proclaims: "O God, I am nothing." The rich businessman kicks the rabbi and whispers in his ear with scorn: "What insolence! Who is that guy who dares to claim that he is nothing too!"</p>
Jokes can explain precisely what Žižek wants the left to do, kinda:<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Whe3KqWi" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f268440e329876311e96b780a87ac65f"> <div id="botr_Whe3KqWi_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Whe3KqWi-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Whe3KqWi-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Whe3KqWi-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p style="margin-left: 20px;">The God we get here is rather like the one from the old Bolshevik joke about an able Communist propagandist who, after his death, finds himself in hell, where he quickly convinces the guards to let him leave and go to heaven instead. When the Devil notices his absence, he quickly pays a visit to God, demanding that he return to hell what belongs to the Devil. However, immediately after the Devil starts to address God: "My Lord …" God interrupts him: "First, I am not Lord but a comrade. Second, are you crazy talking to a fictional being?—I don't exist! And third, be short, otherwise, I'll miss my party cell meeting!"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">This is the God today's radical Left needs: a God who wholly "became man"—a comrade among us, crucified together with two social outcasts—and who not only "doesn't exist" but also himself knows this, accepting his erasure, entirely passing over into the love that binds members of the Holy Ghost (the party, the emancipatory collective).</p>
How Žižek explains fantasmatic identification<p style="margin-left: 20px;">There is a nice joke about Jesus Christ: in order to relax after the arduous work of preaching and performing miracles, Jesus decided to take a short break on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. During a game of golf with one of his apostles, there was a difficult shot to be performed; Jesus did it badly and the ball ended up in the water, so he did his usual trick: he walked on the water to the place where the ball was, reached down and picked it up. When Jesus tried the same shot again, the apostle told him that this is a very difficult one — only someone like Tiger Woods can do it; Jesus replied, "What the hell, I am the son of God, I can do what Tiger Woods can do!" and took another strike. The ball again landed in the water, so Jesus again took a walk on the surface of the water to retrieve it. At this point, a group of American tourists walked by and one of them, observing what was going on, turned to the apostle and said: "My god, who is this guy there? Does he think he is Jesus or what?" The apostle replies: "No, the jerk thinks he is Tiger Woods!"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">This is how fantasmatic identification works: No one, not even God himself, is directly what he is; everybody needs an external, decentered point of identification.</p>
Noting quite explains complicated political issues like a good joke<p style="margin-left: 20px;">When the Turkish Communist writer Panait Istrati visited the Soviet Union in the mid-1930s, the time of the big purges and show trials, a Soviet apologist trying to convince him about the need for violence against the enemies evoked the proverb "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs," to which Istrati tersely replied: "All right. I can see the broken eggs. Where's this omelet of yours?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">We should say the same about the austerity measures imposed by IMF: the Greeks would have the full right to say, "OK, we are breaking our eggs for all of Europe, but where's the omelet you are promising us?"</p>
He can describe the exact differences between different kinds of socialism with jokes too!<p style="margin-left: 20px;">Take the old joke about the difference between Soviet-style bureaucratic Socialism and Yugoslav self-management Socialism: in Russia, members of the nomenklatura drive themselves in expensive limousines, while in Yugoslavia, ordinary people themselves ride in limousines through their representatives.</p>
Nothing is sacred to Žižek’s sense of humor:<p style="margin-left: 20px;">Christ says to those who want to stone the woman taken in adultery, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone!" he is immediately hit by a stone, and then shouts back: "Mother! I asked you to stay at home!"</p>
A reminder to double-check precisely what you're presupposing<p style="margin-left: 20px;">A joke from the early 1960s nicely renders the paradox of the presupposed belief. After Yuri Gagarin, the first cosmonaut, made his visit to space, he was received by Nikita Khruschev, the general secretary of the Communist Party, and told him confidentially: "You know, comrade, that up there in the sky, I saw heaven with God and angels—Christianity is right!" Khruschev whispers back to him: "I know, I know, but keep quiet, don't tell this to anyone!" Next week, Gagarin visited the Vatican and was received by the pope, to whom he confides: "You know, holy father, I was up there in the sky and I saw there is no God or angels …" "I know, I know," interrupts the pope, "but keep quiet, don't tell this to anyone!"<br></p>
A short joke is a good joke<p style="margin-left: 20px;">Today, the old joke about a rich man telling his servant "Throw out this destitute beggar—I'm so sensitive that I can't stand seeing people suffer!" is more appropriate than ever.<sup><a href="http://magazine.nytyrant.com/four-zizeks-jokes/#fn3" target="_blank"></a></sup></p>
And lastly, how to make soup<p style="margin-left: 20px;">Here is how anyone can make a good soup in one hour: prepare all the ingredients, cut the vegetables, etc., boil the water, put the ingredients into it, cook them at a simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally; when, after three-quarters of an hour, you discover that the soup is tasteless and unpalatable, throw it away, open up a good can of soup, and quickly warm it up in a microwave oven. This is how we humans make soup.<strong></strong></p>
And after these 10 surprising maps, the Alpine republic will never look the same again.
- Austria has an almost-exclave, connected to the motherland via a single dot on a mountaintop.
- Habsburgs were so fancy, they were buried in three different locations across Vienna.
- These and other absurd and obscure facts about Austria are the subject of a highly entertaining Twitter account.
Picture-perfect: Schloss Schönbühel. But there's more to Austria than just being pretty.
Image: Uaoei1, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Unless you're into skiing, double monarchies or "The Sound of Music," you probably don't give Austria much thought. Yet everybody's second-favorite Alpine republic is a locus of many weird and wonderful facts. </p><p>If you don't believe us, check out these infographics produced by <a href="https://twitter.com/austrianmaps" target="_blank">@austrianmaps</a>. Here are ten things you'll now never again be able to un-know about Austria.<br></p>
Stuck in the middle<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk0OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjAwMTk0OH0.zQyX2AV59YuG38FmSBq8KF7QfZHUcIT7hIOPsPK4Uq8/img.png?width=980" id="ed9a1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="02ed7f315f4383ded54afc243c5e0562" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="6667" data-height="3751" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>Austria is far from anywhere. Or, comfortably in the middle of everywhere. Which of these two truths rings truer depends on the elasticity of your travel wants (or needs). As this map shows, the Austrian capital Vienna (that's that circular thingy in the top right-hand corner) is almost perfectly equidistant between the two megacities book-ending Europe in the northwest and southeast. </p><p>Other maps show Austria just as snugly halfway between Madrid and Moscow (if you're into city trips); and Ibiza and Crimea (if you're more of a beach person). </p>
Moderately interesting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk1MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxODg1MzEyOH0.1Fkxjq1Xjo03vffQFIwR4ZuthLtkJcut7yTSzbTsSUg/img.png?width=980" id="80847" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2f84e68e162dc474793a3369ce6a4863" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="6668" data-height="3751" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>In its mission statement on Twitter, Austrian Maps promises "maps of Austria from moderately interesting to plain terrible." In order to set the bar at the appropriate height, we get Austria's version of the '<a href="https://www.pinterest.cl/pin/712131759817053793/" target="_blank">Indiana/Outdiana</a>' map.</p><p>Don't let this put you off, though: Innsbruck is a lovely city (go check out the Golden Roof, completed in 1500) and close to the Alps (take the funicular <em>Hungerburgbahn</em> from the city centre straight up into the mountains).</p>
Left to right hand traffic<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk1Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MTU2Mzc5OX0.QyW0M0H5GdO6dghsZpQCf5yzy9khOsnvRHU7FqgeQh0/img.png?width=980" id="8ce97" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3a32ddf8db048567dd046761f66cc3c0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="6667" data-height="3750" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>A few centuries ago, which side of the road you drove on was political. That's because Napoleon, the great equaliser, introduced right-hand traffic wherever he went. Which may explain why his arch enemies, the Brits, so obstinately clung to the other side of the road. The Austrians weren't too keen on him either, so when he left, they went back to… chaos: right-hand traffic here, left-hand traffic there. </p><ul><li>In 1915, Austria-Hungary generalised left-hand traffic, but protests led to the reintroduction of right-hand traffic in Vorarlberg in 1921. Which was not that much of a bother, because at the time, this state was only connected to the rest of Austria via two mountain passes.</li><li>Following a general pact across Europe in 1927 to go with right-hand traffic, the rest of Austria switched back as well, but not immediately and not all at once, because the states couldn't agree on a unified timetable.</li><li>On 2 April 1930, the west of the country (up to the city of Lend) switched from left to right. Carinthia and Eastern Tyrol made the switch on 15 July 1935. </li><li>Following Austria's annexation by Nazi Germany, on 1 July 1938 the German traffic code came into effect, imposing right-hand traffic. </li><li>Except in Vienna and surrounding areas, where left-hand traffic remained in force until 19 September 1938. </li></ul>
Austria's pene-exclave<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk1NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2OTMyMjg3MX0.hhkO7eOMQSo_lP8yuN6PNHMhyB_XXyck84ZbRnWISyw/img.png?width=980" id="4bf6f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4c3ce109a6c47cf03b8825686f961b55" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="6667" data-height="3751" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>Jungholz is an Austrian town, but it's surrounded on all sides by Germany. Does that make it an exclave? It would, if it didn't touch the rest of Austria at a single point – the summit of Mount Sorgschrofen, where four borderlines meet: two German, two Austrian. </p><p>Which means Jungholz is a pene-exclave (i.e. an 'almost-exclave', just like a peninsula is an 'almost-island'). Nevertheless, because it can only be reached via German territory, it is cut off from direct access to the rest of Austria, and thus is a 'practical exclave'. <br></p><p>Because of this, the town has been economically aligned with its Bavarian (and later German) neighbors, but those differences have been mostly subsumed within the European Union. It still maintains both a German and an Austrian post code, though. </p>
Ve meet again, Mr Bond!<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk1NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzU3MDg0MH0.j33GS0McUKr_bhH4lt5o3JsI5s9BfNEbUZgsl4dgQz4/img.png?width=980" id="2b0bf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="128086d50f2e438147fc4856a411161a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="6667" data-height="3750" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>If you're a picturesque enough country, James Bond will come race your city centers to bits, killing any number of Her Majesty's foes and scaring the locals witless. Austria is a particular favorite – visited by no less than four iterations of secret agent 007:</p><ul><li>George Lazenby ("On Her Majesty's Secret Service"),</li><li>Roger Moore ("The Spy Who Loved Me"),</li><li>Timothy Dalton ("The Living Daylights") and</li><li>Daniel Craig ("Spectre," "A Quantum of Solace"). </li></ul><p>And there's plenty more places to blow up in Austria, the map helpfully suggests. If we were scouting for locations for the next Bond (m/f), the <a href="https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/306526318382298647/" target="_blank">dam at Kaprun</a> and the <a href="https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/zwentendorf-nuclear-power-plant" target="_blank">nuclear plant at Zwentendorf</a> would be on the top of our list, too. <br></p>
World cities bigger than Austria<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk1Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjQxMzQ0N30.fNQQ7dGrilcIUcAAinzDgnthZO3hMA5Q6dGq3w3jOKA/img.png?width=980" id="81446" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="113550118da7e7a535359e4a1768d4f0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="6668" data-height="3750" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>Austria may be a proper country with a flag and a president and all the other trappings of modern statehood, but it's rather keenly aware of its own diminutiveness. That certainly has to do with the fact that it was once the senior partner in a much grander nation: the Austro-Hungarian Empire, one of Europe's major powers until its demise following World War I. <br></p><p>With a certain masochism (named after <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/13539/leopold-von-sacher-masoch.html" target="_blank">Leopold von Sacher-Masoch</a>, an Austrian), this map points out cities around the world – many not even capital cities – that have a larger population than Austria, which has 9 million inhabitants. </p>
Between the mountains and the fields<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk1OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTAyNjU4NX0.ILSBHukj0tdC9yW5AbpADIAmt7F8oeZGiBxZRAnU1VU/img.png?width=980" id="fd87f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5031eb06b3a2eb27cad3befcfa8a982d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="6667" data-height="3751" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>Austria's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWKI7pn5uYE" target="_blank">national anthem</a> is the last melody written by Mozart before he died. That was the official story, but it turns out it's too good to be true: the masonic hymn was probably penned by one of Mozart's fellow lodgers. </p><p>The lyrics, of much later origin, describe Austria as "<em>Land der Berge, Land am Strome, Land der Äcker, Land der Dome</em>" ('Land of mountains, land by the river Donau, land of fields, land of cathedral domes'). <br></p><p>What does that cover? Quite a lot, as this map shows, but not all of Austria, not by far. But then, "land of bits in between" doesn't quite have that anthemic ring to it. </p>
Having a ball<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk2MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDc4MjI3OH0.DrjoS5zLWAaV_smV4VfKAcEuz5tQdwO1mtfPt2hDU1Q/img.png?width=980" id="c85d4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c87a0574912c6b98a003058da6bdaba5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="6668" data-height="3751" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>They're not quite on any Unesco world heritage list just yet, but <a href="https://www.wien.info/en/music-stage-shows/dance/ball-season" target="_blank">Vienna's balls</a> really should be. If not because they're a spectacular, centuries-old tradition replete with elaborate dresses, genteel manners and shedloads of classical music, then because they are both completely out of place in the modern world – and a wonderful escape from it. </p><p>Each winter season, the Hofburg Palace, Vienna's <em>Rathaus</em> (City Hall), the Vienna State Opera and other locations across town are filled with so many dancing debutantes and scheming socialites that you may be forgiven to think the <em>Kaiser</em> is still sitting on his throne. </p><p>In all, Vienna counts around 400 annual balls, many hosted by professional guilds, like the academic association, the medical profession or even the real estate sector. As the map shows, even some states have their own ball: Upper and Lower Austria, Tyrol, Styria and Vorarlberg, and… Moscow. </p><p>Of course, Moscow is not an Austrian state. Although there are plenty of moneyed Muscovites who wouldn't mind. Not all of Russia's bling gravitates to London. There's plenty to go around, and some of it likes to dress up and dance. And when that happens, it's not that hard to imagine that it's 1815 again, Vienna is the world's largest congregation of diplomats (there to hammer out the Treaty of Vienna), and there's still a Tsar on the throne in Moscow. <br></p>
Egg-cellence in maps<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk2Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDA3MjY2NX0.nPQRcHRPqbJNrtTzCDHJnY1snQR_4hPUTLX8i5L5IKk/img.png?width=980" id="2115b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f5c86b7eb560d92bd30472ffc5f2a689" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="3334" data-height="1876" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>Q: How much fun can mapmakers have? A: As much as their imagination allows. Case in point: this Easter-themed map (hence the bleating lamb) comparing the egg-shapedness of Austria's various states.</p><p>Vienna is the state most overlapping with an egg of the same size (0.905), Elongated Burgenland (a.k.a. Austria's Chile) is the least egg-like state (0.521). </p><p>And what does this teach us? That it can be fun to follow the data, even if it leads you into a blind alley, where you get robbed of your seriousness. Sometimes, a good laugh is worth taking one on the chin. <br></p>
Not that kind of church organ<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4OTk2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTEzNDM4M30.XUkSbr-C9X56DR8nMXTUunObaB6TtTF8204XOqTIHUM/img.jpg?width=980" id="36125" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2323cae6e6979ad731e744a903c01270" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="6667" data-height="3751" />
Image: Austrian Maps<p>There are still emperors in Vienna, but they're all dead and buried. However, just going on the number of burial sites, you could think there are three times as many of the dead blighters as there actually were in real life. <br></p><p>That is because, lugubriously, emperors and other Habsburg royals were traditionally buried in three pieces: their bodies in the Capuchin Crypt, minus their hearts (which went to the Loreto Chapel) and also <em>sans</em> their inner organs (which were preserved – if that's the right word - at St Stephen's Cathedral). </p><p><br></p><p><em><span></span>All maps reproduced with kind permission. For more Austrian map madness, check out </em><a href="https://twitter.com/austrianmaps" target="_blank" style="">Austrian Maps</a><em> on Twitter.</em></p><p><em></em><strong>Strange Maps #1029</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" style="">email@example.com</a>.<br></p>
Here's a simple method for finding out whether those shouts are good-natured or not.
- Not every audience member who speaks out during a comedy show is a heckler. But there's a way to test the waters without upsetting your audience, says comedian Paul F. Tompkins.
- By engaging in a civil way with the person who spoke out, you either give them an opportunity to add more fun to the show, or they'll reveal their true colors.
- If the person ends up being a heckler after you've attempted including them in the conversation, the audience will be on your side when you shut that person down.
How to actually help a person who's ill? Don't be afraid to be funny, says Jeannie Gaffigan.
- When someone is critically ill, says comedy writer Jeannie Gaffigan, they need three very simple things from their friends and family: compassion, humor, and touch.
- We are conditioned to enter hospital rooms meekly and speak in soft whispers, but when Gaffigan was in critical condition after emergency brain surgery, unable to speak, the most healing thing was her friend visiting her and making irreverent jokes, and her sister tuning into her unspoken feelings.
- "I'm not saying dress up like a clown," she says. "You've got to be appropriate, but people think it's inappropriate to be funny around critically ill people. But people want to be talked to, be listened to, even if they can't talk."
Film critic A.O. Scott on how to be more constructive in your criticisms.
- Criticism is about more than likes and dislikes.
- NY Times film critic A.O. Scott warns against the "emptiness" of certain adjectives when it comes to giving constructive and meaningful criticism.
- Pulling from nearly two decades of experience, Scott's book shows why criticism matters and how we are all critics.