An April Fool's Day cartoon from 1979

The end of foolishness?

I used to love April Fool’s Day. In high school, we had an annual April Fool’s Day edition of our newspaper that we called the Reject Review. We had plenty of fun (and occasionally got in trouble) for the humorous stories and cartoons we put in that issue.

It’s hard to come up with that type of humor in 2024. Reality comes up with outrageous stories that defy the most inventive comedian. Doors falling off of aircraft? A Kennedy running for president on an anti-vax platform? Another presidential candidate posting a video that shows his opponent tied up in the back of a truck? Conspiracy theories blaming a tragic bridge accident on cyberattacks and false-flag events? And you can’t tell a joke without a segment of the population believing it as fact. How many The Onion satirical articles have been passed around as actual reporting?

We’ve also been living with an impending sense of doom. It’s like we’re the happy Jewish family in 1930s Europe. Everything is going well for us, and we don’t realize the Gestapo will soon be kicking in our door and sending us to Auschwitz.

How can you have April Fool’s Day in a world like this? How do you laugh when little in the world seems all that funny?

Humor remains a great coping mechanism. It helps us regain perspective and deflates those who try to take themselves too seriously. Danger can be more managable when we dare to laugh in its face.

In my writing and speeches, I find ways to use humor to offset heavier scenes and make points. I’m finding it especially helpful in the post-apocalyptic novel I’m writing. This genre tends to be more grimdark, so humor would provide a refreshing alternative. It also enables me to make important points about the state of society and how it can be better. As someone who grew up with the irreverent comedy of the 1970s, I know how humor can get us to listen to truths we don’t want to hear.

While this story uses more humor and social satire, it won’t be a ha-ha chuckle fest from cover to cover. To set up the stakes, there have to be serious moments. Just as humor offsets the darker parts, dark parts highlight the humor.

Humor is what we need in 2024. While the juvenile jokes and pranks I enjoyed as a teenager won’t work today, the ability to laugh at ourselves and the world is absolutely necessary. We need humor to ridicule what is wrong and unjust, to cut our fears down to size, and gain the moral strength to deal with whatever may come. This may not be the year for April Fool’s, but our willingness to laugh shows we aren’t fooling around.