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LJ Idol - Week [1] - "Jayus"

Pen
I really had a lot to consider when it came to this particular starting point for this year’s therealljidol. The word, listed in quotes in the title, is from, we’re told, Indonesian, and means “a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.”

Now, with me coming from a comedy background, I found this topic a particularly difficult one. When you’re used to telling a joke well, or writing a joke for someone else to tell well, the adversity, the dread, the ambivalence that occurs when you try to intentionally screw it up is enormous!

I really sat for a few hours and considered the possibilities. I first started a story about a mom and some kids, but I didn't like the direction it was going. Then, I thought perhaps I could just write a laundry list of names:

George W. Bush

Donald Trump

Sarah Palin

You get the idea. Easy to get accolades for that! And I could have filled several entries with that list of names and stories about them. But would that have been fair? Fish in a barrel.

The Three Stooges are noted for this kind of behavior. So is Monsanto. It’s ironic that there is this Keystone Pipeline on the horizon, because it recalls the Keystone Kops. I had to think some more.

I kept coming back (couldn't escape is more accurate) to the nonsense that I was seeing in the news, and in history, and on twitter. Finally, it hit me, like George Zimmerman signing autographs at a gun show.

I have frequently stated that my favorite ancient Chinese quote is:

“We cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our reaction to it.”

And that’s what we’re dealing with in the world. We are looking at a system, a society, a mechanism that is functioning to the benefit of those running it. We are born into the system. We have to learn the system and learn to maneuver through the system. And those at the top of the system are always working to make sure they remain on top.

But the rest of us want to be healthy and happy too! We want the opportunity to have some sort of control over our lives. And we want to enjoy what we have, whatever we have, for as long as we have it.

And to me, that’s the essence of what Jayus is about. Life itself can be seen as a badly told joke. Think about it. Random stuff happens, all the time. People are killed because of human error, or human anger or a single celled organism that is too complex for us to understand. People become famous for no reason whatsoever, or for a reason that really is rooted in infamy.

We can do everything right: get great grades in school, get a college degree, work really hard and still not succeed because of factors out of our control. Or because of how someone else views us. Or because someone doesn't want to view us.

But, Life is seen through the prism of our own personal experiences, and through the knowledge we have acquired about how the mechanism works. It's our choice: We can choose to run and hide, to feel helpless and afraid. Or we can laugh, and sing, and roller skate and prove that we can live our lives, our way, in the face of every last bit of adversity placed on our path.

At the very least, we have to make sure we aren’t making something bad into something worse, because the reaction informs us. If we get angry, then we physiologically change. Our blood pressure increases. Our tear ducts respond. We might want to get violent. And that affects US, not the person or event that caused that reaction. How we choose to react can potentially shorten our own life spans and bring more misery to ourselves.

And that’s where we have to be disciplined. And humorous! We need to remember Jayus because, a lot of the time, there’s a whole lot of nonsense being spouted by a whole lot of nonsensical people, all over the world. It’s up to us to make sure they know, in the clearest way possible, what we think of them.

Laugh Real Loud!

Comments

( 81 comments — Leave a comment )
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basric
Mar. 15th, 2014 05:27 am (UTC)
So well told. I loved it.
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC)
thanks very much!
crazypuce
Mar. 15th, 2014 05:27 am (UTC)
I totally agree, sometimes life does feel like a bad joke. And all that's left is to laugh because it's still better than crying.
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 02:34 pm (UTC)
It's the most positive reaction I can think of, and I'm always trying to be positive. Thanks for reading!
swirlsofblue
Mar. 15th, 2014 10:16 am (UTC)
Love this concept and your handling of it, especially the lovely message of hope and humor :)
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 02:36 pm (UTC)
It kind of dovetailed into your entry, in a random way. I appreciate the great compliment!
x_disturbed_x
Mar. 15th, 2014 12:31 pm (UTC)
I second that! I love the way you dealt with this topic. :)
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 02:40 pm (UTC)
This entry fell into what I call a "thinkpost" because there are topics that I don't "know" but maybe have just been kicking around, and this definitely was one of those topics! Thanks for your response and compliment!
baxaphobia
Mar. 15th, 2014 02:03 pm (UTC)
I loved this! So true! Shaking one's head and laughing is sometimes the only reaction to the crap happening around us.
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 02:42 pm (UTC)
Only LEGAL reaction! Haha! And thanks!
bleodswean
Mar. 15th, 2014 03:25 pm (UTC)
A really nice and thoughtful essay. I can hear your voice in it and that lent it a twist. Well done.
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 04:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much!
sweeny_todd
Mar. 15th, 2014 04:15 pm (UTC)
yep! Sometimes life IS a terrible joke. You gotta laugh :-)
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 05:24 pm (UTC)
It can be the best thing we can do, both for ourselves and for everyone around us. :)
solstice_singer
Mar. 15th, 2014 04:46 pm (UTC)
I really like how you think.
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC)
That's very high praise, so thanks!
kecharasmoon
Mar. 15th, 2014 05:00 pm (UTC)
I like the way you think.
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC)
thank you for a great compliment!
veronica_rich
Mar. 15th, 2014 08:19 pm (UTC)
My grandma (the one I liked) told me when I was 20 and angry at a breakup that living well was the best revenge. I still don't know if that's more satisfying than flushing the cheating ass's head down a toilet would've been, but you are right that being actively angry at others does nothing to them and only screws up our own selves. So, life as the joke does make sense!
penpusher
Mar. 15th, 2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It's not always an easy philosophy to follow, but I try to keep it in mind, now more than ever, as it seems like there's an endless bunch of stuff to laugh at!
shay_writes
Mar. 16th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this! Well done!
penpusher
Mar. 16th, 2014 02:40 am (UTC)
Many thank yous!
kandigurl
Mar. 16th, 2014 02:21 am (UTC)
What a unique take on the topic, and SO TRUE. There's a video I love about this very topic called "Crap or Cone", you can either focus on the fact that you have a foot in dog crap, or you can focus on the fact that you're holding an ice cream cone. :)
penpusher
Mar. 16th, 2014 02:41 am (UTC)
That video really sounds like a metaphor for life! Life can be what you make it, or at least better than it could be, based on what you make it!
seakittym
Mar. 16th, 2014 02:40 am (UTC)
I have always been a big fan of the "Life is 10% what happens, 90% how you handle it" but I do realize there's a lot more at play (brain chemistry is a bite), but it's true, sometimes we really do just have to laugh. Take things with a grain of salt, and have a sense of humor. If you don't, you're going to pop a vessel before 40.
penpusher
Mar. 16th, 2014 02:48 am (UTC)
Reactions magnify whatever happens. That can make the good seem better, but they definitely make the bad a whole lot worse.

Thinking back to how NYC was in the days and weeks that followed 9/11, it really did get us through it, as everyone was a lot more kind, supportive, quiet and caring based on what happened.

But yes. I'm sure staying calm has the ability to add years to your life expectancy. And laughter is the best medicine!
eternal_ot
Mar. 16th, 2014 10:17 am (UTC)
Liked it a lot..something that played on my mind as well with the word Jayus...that's incidents in Life was nothing but a collection of Jayus...if only we could laugh at it...:)..well written!
penpusher
Mar. 16th, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! I'm glad you see it that way. Thanks for the compliment!
kehlen_crow
Mar. 16th, 2014 05:28 pm (UTC)
I can not imagine how hard it must be to be intentionally funny a lot of the time.

I enjoyed your analysis.
penpusher
Mar. 16th, 2014 08:04 pm (UTC)
I grant you, being funny isn't always easy, but the thought of trying to be funny but unintentionally unfunny was a tricky one. I've been throwing some puns at various other comments in an effort, though!
n3m3sis43
Mar. 16th, 2014 08:47 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with you--life all too often resembles a badly told joke. Very insightful. :)
penpusher
Mar. 17th, 2014 02:37 am (UTC)
Thanks! Maybe if we all can adopt this concept, the laughter will chase the nonsense away! Even if it didn't work, it would be hilarious to try!
catwomon
Mar. 17th, 2014 01:39 am (UTC)
I really like this post! What's more I really needed it. I have spent so much time trying and failing because of things beyond my control. You've given me a new perspective for this.
penpusher
Mar. 17th, 2014 02:38 am (UTC)
I'm humbled and honored by your comment. Thanks very much!
witchwife
Mar. 17th, 2014 02:16 am (UTC)
Agreed - it's best to keep a sense of humor about the circumstances we find ourselves in. (Even when they seem like anything but funny.) I feel like you could write a Ten Commandments of Living a Jayus Driven Life out of this..! ;)
penpusher
Mar. 17th, 2014 10:41 am (UTC)
Haha (not a Jayus laugh, mind you)! But that might be something to pursue. I know I need reminders every now and again to stay on track. Thank you for a great compliment!
halfshellvenus
Mar. 17th, 2014 06:28 am (UTC)
I can see why you found this topic challenging-- doing badly what you strive to do well creates cognitive dissonance.

I also took more than one stab at this prompt. That usually doesn't happen until later in the season, but it was that kind of topic!

I can't disagree that your laundry list of names would also have fulfilled the prompt on its own. Ludicrous+successful, in the abstract, describes all three of those people.
penpusher
Mar. 17th, 2014 01:08 pm (UTC)
It was a good first challenge though, especially since it literally WAS my first challenge.

There really was an endless list of names... I'm sure we're getting more, every year! Thanks for reading!
itsjustc
Mar. 17th, 2014 01:21 pm (UTC)
That was a very interesting read :)

I think the quote you used “We cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our reaction to it.” sounds like a very similar concept to the Indonesian quote I translated and used for my title. I'd not come across that Chinese quote before.

It's an interesting thought that 'life is nothing but a collection of Jayus, and we just need to be able laugh about it!'

Edited at 2014-03-17 01:22 pm (UTC)
penpusher
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:32 pm (UTC)
I forget when and how I first heard that quote, but it would turn up every now and again so I knew it was something I needed to remember. It's especially good to keep in mind when reading certain social media!
suesniffsglue
Mar. 17th, 2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
well done! I especially liked your list of names
penpusher
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:34 pm (UTC)
Haha! I did pause to think about using those names in the entry, but even the GOP has written them all off, so I figured I was safe!
abigailendersby
Mar. 17th, 2014 07:52 pm (UTC)
Very smooth and introspective, with veins of smart comedy woven through it. I really enjoyed this, it was a good read and flowed very nicely!
penpusher
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the compliment!
surpanakhalives
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:01 pm (UTC)
It took me years to learn that -- years of screaming and crying and kicking to finally realise that you must keep a really cool head no matter what! Love the way you've presented that. Remembering Jayus...
penpusher
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:37 pm (UTC)
It's one of those life lessons that never gets taught, but would make everyone's life so much better if they learned it in Kindergarten. And thanks!
kajel
Mar. 18th, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
Really well done. Laughing is better, but, sometimes, so much harder.
penpusher
Mar. 18th, 2014 12:44 am (UTC)
Nobody said life was easy, but it has to be a bit better if you laugh as much as possible! Thanks.
muchtooarrogant
Mar. 18th, 2014 12:14 am (UTC)
My own version of your much more articulate post is, "If you're not laughing, you're doing something wrong." Well written and thought provoking.

Dan
penpusher
Mar. 18th, 2014 12:44 am (UTC)
You're very kind, and thanks for the compliment!
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