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Norman Lear Knew Why Laughing Matters

Written by OSAP friend, past speaker Dave Caperton

It's been a tough season for humor. In October, we were shocked that Matthew Perry had died at just 54. His Chandler Bing on Friends perfected the benign snarky retort ("Could I be any sadder?," he might have said). Yesterday, we heard that Norman Lear had died at the ripe old age of 101. Any celebrity passing is sad but when we lose someone like a Robin Williams or a Matthew Perry or a Norman Lear, it has an extra punch because of the realization that the laughter that they brought us has fallen forever silent and, even though we never knew them or perhaps even met them, that loss feels personal.

Laughter is important because it just feels good to laugh. But the simple pleasure of laughter can lead one underestimate humor as a pleasant but not really all that important experience in the grand scheme of things. Norman Lear had a different idea. Humor could be a tool to spark discussion and change minds.

I was just a kid when All in The Family debuted, and I don’t remember much about seeing it for the first time except the impression that it didn’t look or sound like any other family comedy on TV. This family was loud, their language shocking and the lead character was not somebody for whom I could root. The humor didn't shy from tough subjects drawn from social, racial and political issues. It sparked controversy about the war, civil rights and bigotry. It wasn't just entertainment; it felt like it was trying to accomplish something.

Please select this link to read the complete article from Dave Caperton's blog.

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