Mudcat Café message #2588181 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #118593   Message #2588181
Posted By: Paul Burke
13-Mar-09 - 02:56 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Gallows Humour-laughing at death/disease
Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
We're going to die- I'm going to die, you're going to die. For some it will be sudden and unlooked for, for others a tedious drag through pain and degradation. Others still are lucky enough for a dignified end. It's a 100% certainty that it will happen though.

So why not laugh at it, as about every other aspect of human existence? I bet there were jokes in the gulags and Nazi death camps- not the horrible playground ones that we all heard as kids, but ones expressing the ultimate futility of all human aspiration, and reconciling oneself to it, and thus ennobling it in a small and local way.

In English folk song, the John o'Greenfield song that McColl bastardised as the four loom weaver- a song looking death by starvation in the face and laughing. McPherson's hanging. Even the hurrah for the next man that dies.

Laugh at death, laugh at cancer, laugh at cholera. Even laugh at English cricket if you must. That's not the same as laughing at the victims.