Ask the experts, or may even the folks on the street, “What are the most universally popular topics of humor?” The answers you’ll get will be “sex, death, and…food.”
Click here for one list of top stand-up comedy food bits (as it were….).
It's quite a smorgasbord (pun totally intended) for humor of all tastes (continued intention). You will note that Bill Cosby’s and Louis CK’s offerings have been removed. (And their place at the table cleared.)
I must say for myself, my all time favorite comic sketch involves food.
(This is actually one of MANY favorite sketches, all of which are about food!)
Arguably the two most popular and beloved “I Love Lucy” episodes involve food.
Perhaps the most famous sketch to ever be served up on the Second City stage (and it’s still performed!) involves a funeral gathering where everyone tries deal respectfully with the fact the deceased died when his head got stuck in a gallon-sized can of pork n' beans.
Here you have food and death hilariously - and clearly successfully - mixed together!
So we can, and should, assume that Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearance before his disciples in Luke 24:36-48 - the one many of us read, heard, and preached last Sunday, as it was the gospel lectionary reading for that day - is intended to make us laugh. That’s because in this text, the Risen Christ suddenly appears before his frightened disciples and after showing them his wounds et al, he asks for something to eat. And broiled fish it is!
Ha ha ha ha ha!
This, through the Comic Lens is such a funny funny-food scene!
For one thing, it’s such a surprisingly low-brow test Jesus uses to prove he has risen. Eating a piece of fish. Broiled fish at that.
I mean, he’s Lord of the Universe! There are a gajillion things someone with that kind of power can do to prove who he is. Heal someone! Make it suddenly rain! Have Moses and Elijah show up with you like you did at the Transfiguration! Or, if you’re wanting to do something with food, feed 5,000 again! Or 4,000! Or 10,000!
A story like that would certainly inspire a reaction of awe! Wanting to show your friends your digestive tract still probably works can’t help but prompt more of a snort.
In fact, it sort of reminds me of that very humbling, but hilarious moment for many a surgical patient, when proof they are indeed healing and can hope soon to be released is that they pass gas. Everyone waits with baited breath (if also nose pinched) for that truly magical toot. It’s so important! But also so lowly.
Luke 24 also reminds me of what The Comic Lens posted in its blog on Ash Wednesday, “Butt Dust, Indeed!” There we looked at the fact that “humor” comes from the same word root as “humus” (ie “dirt”) as well as “human” and “humility.” Our lowly fleshly nature of course necessitates repentance, but it is also invites laughter. (Which, as noted above, explains why the most popular topics of comedy are sex, death and food - the three basic functions of creaturely being.)
Just as our journey with Jesus to the cross begins with earthy and, hence, comic overtones, so does it end. We may think it’s primarily a spiritual journey…but….
Wearing our comic lenses, we can see it’s much more than that. According to the Bible, at least, it’s an amazingly gracious and loving embrace of our humanness. Even the Christ’s! He can’t, or at least won’t, let us forget that. So, when he could have done something much more spectacular to prove who he was, he chose to do something dopey, and wonderful, like having a little breakfast.
Easter invites us to rejoice in the fact that because Christ has risen, he can now live inside of us, as Spirit, and inside of all people, and that is an incredibly wonderful thing. But it also invites us to once again give God thanks that we have these earthen containers of spirit called bodies. And we can and should enjoy them. Let them induce for us laughter - our greatest expression of joy. Easter joy!