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Empathy Is a Byproduct of Humor – But Only When It's Done Well
Scott Aukerman, the co-founder of 'Between Two Ferns', developed humor early on as a way disarm bullies. He knows from experience that, in comedy, your intentions really matter.
Scott Aukerman is the creator of Between Two Ferns, for which he has won two Emmy Awards. He is the creator, writer, and host of Comedy Bang! Bang! on IFC, In 2010, he founded Earwolf, a podcast network which hosts the Comedy Bang! Bang! Podcast and many others. Comedy Bang! Bang! recently wrapped up its 5th season, with Weird Al as the band leader.
His latest project Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ premiered on the NBC streaming service SeeSo in 2016, and will return for a third season in 2017. He also writes and produces the Cameron Esposito/Rhea Butcher comedy Take My Wife for SeeSo. In 2016, he did a live tour in the US, and Australia. He is now promoting Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special for Netflix.
Scott Aukerman is the creator of Between Two Ferns, for which he has won two Emmy Awards. He is the creator, writer, and host of Comedy Bang! Bang! on IFC, In 2010, he founded Earwolf, a podcast network which hosts the Comedy Bang! Bang! Podcast and many others.
Comedy Bang! Bang! recently wrapped up its 5th season, with Weird Al as the band leader.
Scott Aukerman: Unfortunately I think everyone thinks they're funny maybe and so few people actually are. I think there's a certain type of bully humor – bullies throughout history including people who have become some of the most powerful people in the world they just use their humor to make other people feel small and to be like every joke they make is at someone's expense, almost bragging about how much more powerful they are than the other person. And that to me is not the greatest sense of humor to have because while it's fun to slam your friends I think you really don't have a lot of empathy for the bully who's using humor.
I think the instinct to be self-deprecating starts when you're young and you don't take yourself too seriously when you're not popular and the world and your peers don't seem to be taking you seriously. I remember in high school for some reason I just heard that there was a huge dude who really didn't like me who wanted to beat me up. as far as I was concerned I had never met him but it was just one of those things where he had found someone smaller than him to pick on and so I remember just using humor to disarm him. And like he got in my face one day and I just was like, "Come on man." I started acting like really huge and tough. "I'm like come on I'll take you down. Come on bro. Come at me bro." And he just started laughing and was like you're funny man. And then after that we were friends. I was getting mugged once and I just ended up talking to the guy for 20 minutes trying to make him laugh. And at the end of it he was like, "You're too nice of a guy. All right. I'll see you later."
That sort of skill can really come in handy when you feel as if the world is against you in a way. to not take yourself seriously I think the world then has empathy for you. You always see it when you're taking a public speaking class they always say start off with a joke. People don't want to have lives where they're sitting there being bored by people all the time. When you're in charge of a company people usually hate their boss because they're mean all the time. Humor is a great tool to use to just get people on your side.
As long as you’re funny, it can get you out of almost anything – even getting mugged, as co-founder of Between Two Ferns Scott Aukerman recounts. Unfortunately, not everyone out there is funny, although some people believe they are, and this is usually when you get bully-style humor where every joke is at someone else’s expense. In Aukerman’s view, real humor is about unity – finding the common ground with others – and it’s a gateway to empathy, which creates more genuine interactions. So if you want to navigate the tricky waters of social interactions, get people on your side during a work presentation, or stop a guy from taking your wallet, start with a joke. Scott Aukerman’s podcast is Comedy Bang! Bang!.
Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!
Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".