Alzheimer’s disease: (n) a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age due to generalized degeneration of the brain.
When you read the definition, there’s nothing funny about it.
But candidly, I think everybody feels a little nervous about taking this disease seriously.
It isn’t that we don’t have empathy for those who suffer from it. It’s just that the one-liners, comedic set-up and potential sketches available on the subject of older people becoming forgetful are so ripe with scenarios that it’s difficult to pass them up in favor of more sensitive profiles.
So when are we being callous?
I remember once in a show I joked about the fact that “considering my size, you know I’m not anorexic.” A lady walked up to me afterwards and complained about my choice of humor, saying that her daughter suffered from the condition and that it was not a jocular matter.
The reason I offered this remorse was that I had offended her. I didn’t do anything offensive, but because the subject matter was so personal and close to her, she was offended by my making light of the gravity of the situation.
But honestly, I do not know if we can progress the human race without learning to laugh at ourselves.
Would I think jokes about Alzheimer’s Disease were funny if I had it? Since I probably wouldn’t know–yes. (See? There are people who probably would find even that turnaround crass…)
All of us are going to get old, and that looming condition is both real and frightening at the same time. To approach it without some sort of good cheer is probably the greatest danger.
So I follow a simple philosophy: I try to find humor in everything, serious or not. It is not because I don’t care. It is because the only way to care is to relieve pain, not merely point it out.
We must be careful in a time when we are touting our personal feelings more than understanding our human need–that we don’t lose sight of the escapism of comedy.
I do not condone those who are rude and crude. I am not saying that any kind of disease is pleasant. I’m just saying that as an obese man, plagued with many of the complications associated with it, I have never gained ground by digging in my heels, weeping or looking for reasons to be offended.
The only light I’ve ever seen at the end of any of my tunnels … is humor.