Student Depression: Funny is the Best Medicine

Ever had that fight with your significant other/parent/yourself (I don’t judge) and one of you said something unintentionally hilarious, and, despite your best efforts to scowl in anger, you couldn’t help but crack a smile?

The situation seemed so much less serious when you both lightened up, right? All you had to do was smile and something that could have lasted hours dissipated in minutes.

“They” say that laughter is the best medicine. Who are “they”? People who just don’t understand how bad you feel inside. If they’re happy all the time, how the hell would they know what it’s like to be angry, frustrated, depressed?

It’s the same situation with those people that tell you to take life less seriously; you just know that if they were in your shoes they’d feel your pain.

Well, they do know how it feels, and likely as much as you do, if not more. They’ve found that elusive balance, that secret to the right amount of sad and happy, and at the right intervals.

The only thing “they” have over you is a simple truth: sometimes, humor is the best medicine. Not necessarily the most logical (I’m looking at you, happy pills). But it’s up there.

"Can't resist... the cuteness"

The crux of the matter here is, the best way to tone down the macabre and channel your inner Macarena is to laugh. To actually perform the infamously over-exaggerated LMFAO. To become one with the ROFLCOPTER.

I know, sometimes this task is beyond challenging: it’s downright impossible, especially for those moments when you’re catatonic from despair. One mistake many of us depression fighters make from time to time is believing the idea that happiness means being ecstatic all the time. But just like in the atomic world, everything seeks a balance: positively charged protons need a similar number of negatively charged electrons to create a stable atom; certain atoms’ valence shells strive to abide by the octet rule, and that means gaining or losing (negatively charged) electrons. Basically, for stability, life needs both the pluses and the minuses.

Everyone needs those low points to get enough momentum for the high ones. But if all you get is a series of flaccid bumps, the ride becomes stale, sad, and in serious need of excitement. You need a funny injection.

That’s why, for those brief moments when you actually feel (sort of) good, the best possible thing you can do is capitalize. Bank on the moment. Profit. And for those bad moments? More on this in a bit.

How do we get that funny injected in a timely manner? We don’t have time for a two-hour comedy, we don’t have the patience for feel-good books or articles or tweets. So what’s left to do? Scour YouTube for cat videos? I’ve got a better idea.

In 2000, the Internet was introduced to Pandora Radio. Over the past 13 years, Pandora has acclimated to the needs of its 200 million users quite brilliantly. And it now has the ability to make us laugh.

Just like with your favorite musicians, you can create a Pandora station with your favorite comedians. While music can be a great escape, excellent comedy can bring you way down to serious reality while still seeing it from a hilarious angle, whether you’re listless in bed and are in dire need of a peak, or you’re experiencing that intermittent moment of elation and want to capitalize on it.

Talented comedians have the ability to teach us that even the lowest of lows are sources of humor.

So while you may wallow in bed, moaning with your bottle of gin for love long lost while your cats stare at you in what looks like apathetic curiosity, when you do recover, you’ll be able to view that gutter-licking crevice you momentarily fell into as part of a balanced emotional spectrum. You’ll also take subsequent episodes less seriously.

With all that said, let’s take talk shop. Which comedians? Why would you consider listening to them in the first place? You have questions, I have answers and funny pictures…

Louis C.K.: One of the best comedians alive for the very reason that he turns the most guttural points in life on their heads to create some of the most raw, genuine and human comedy around.

Jim Gaffigan: He ponders on the little things in our day-to-day lives that we don’t give a second thought to, like hot pockets and laziness, and creates lighthearted little diatribes that are spot-on.

Demetri Martin: Embodying the very idea of idiosyncrasy, Demetri uses hilarious puns and nerdy observations to bring to life even the most tepid subjects.

Dane Cook: Can be annoying. But in small doses can produce gol—eh, maybe silver. Or copper. But who else buys a cement truck just so they can put their friends in the empty mixer, and then throws jolly ranchers at them as they tumble around?

Mitch Hedberg: Do you like cheese? Because Mitch is all about shooting off those hit-or-miss one-liners and arbitrary observations, which more often than not convey sheer brilliance. Stand up was a labor of love for Mitch: he’d usually wear sunglasses, close his eyes and hide his face under his hair to help with stage fright.

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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