If a comedian makes a caricature of an unusual pot-bellied character, it is only members of the audience whose bellies are not so big that will laugh. Those with pot bellies may pretend to laugh when they are actually worried about their potbellies. Sometimes they may retort, “What is funny there?”
Comedy Makes Comedians Afraid
As I said earlier, comedy makes the comedian afraid. Most times, a comedian or comedy artist puts up a facade of tough and fearless demeanour when in actual fact they are trying to tame the frightened child in them. This is more severe when they choose to lampoon an important personality, public institution or the State. Although they tend to make people laugh for a “fee”, they don’t see their art as a laughing matter. Inwardly, they are afraid of the repercussion.
The Utilitarian Value of Comedy
Just like art itself, one may ask, “What is the utilitarian value of comedy?” For comedy to have value, certain principles must be followed by a comedian or comedy artist. The object of ridicule must first of all be established—is it a person, an institution, a culture or the State? Then the manner of ridicule must also be established—is it through language or costume or both? The last thing (but definitely not the least) to consider is the purpose of the jesting: is it to elicit laughter or cry. As I said earlier, the primary aim of comedy is to make the “insiders” cry and the “outsiders” laugh. By insiders, I mean those who are identified with the object of humour. Outsiders are those who are not identified with the object of humour. For example, if I poke fun at potbellies, my intention should be to make those who have potbellies cry and those with flat bellies laugh. If at the end of the comedy show, those with potbellies are seen roaring with laughter, the show has failed. If on the other hand, those with “normal” bellies don’t laugh at the caricature of potbellies, the show is equally a flop. Cry may not necessarily mean shedding tears—it means feeling unhappy or hurt.