“It’s not necessarily about being disrespectful toward the event or anything, it’s about coping,” he says.
Laughter, itself, is healing. It helps many in times of tragedies by providing a distraction.
Directly after the Boston bombings, Steven Colbert’s comments on “The Colbert Report” encouraged Sam Ferrigno, blog editor at Hooplaha.com, to write about the benefits of laughter.
“It’s terrible what happened,” he says. “But I think that laughter and humor is a kind of medicine that can start to heal people.”
Ferrigno was challenged on how to present the Boston story.
“I think that humor cuts the seriousness of any situation in a respectful and healthy way,” he says.
“What Colbert was doing was to use humor to really show this kind of resiliency and to celebrate the attitude that he thought Boston was bringing to the situation,” adds Scepanski, whose Ph.D. is in how television comedy deals with tragedy.
How New Yorkers would handle 9/11 was on the minds of the writers at National Lampoon.
“What the Lampoon did and I think what ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ do is sort of make fun of things around the event. You can’t make fun of the main source, so you have to go to the second tier like making fun of the way society responds to the tragedy,” National Lampoon Managing Editor Steve Brykman says.
Regardless of how the comedy is executed, comedians agree that their delivery often helps people in the end.
“I think that is something comedy does that no other form of communication does. And that is test our boundaries,” Scepanski says.