Tragedy Is What Happens To Me, Comedy Is What Happens To You
Mel Brooks Quote
Tragedy is what happens to me, comedy is what happens to you; Mel Brooks quote proving schadenfreude is alive and kicking as he revels in the misery of others.
Human nature is a strange thing, people can easily laugh at someone elses misfortune but when it happens to you it is seldom funny.
The television channels are awash with shows hosting video clips of of people falling over that hold a fascination over their audience, this type of programme is popular the world over proving that other peoples misfortunes cross all cultural barriers.
Tragedy is Comedy
The popularity of misfortune videos reinforces the train of thought that tragedy is comedy when you are watching an unfortunate victim from the comfort of your sofa.
There have been millions of this type of video uploaded onto YouTube with some individual videos gaining millions of views. With the ability to share videos instantly on social media it is very easy for the best movies to go viral.
It may seem a blunt quote but Mel Brooks is just saying it like it is, the tragedy or comedy is either painful or funny depending on your involvement with the event.
One Mans Misfortune is Another Mans Delight
If I fall down an open man hole and injure myself it is anything but funny for me but if the same event is caught on camera and posted onto YouTube the morbid fascination of someone elses tragedy turns into the viewers comedy.
On a parallel level people can easily be envious of someone elses success but can show sympathy for someone elses misfortune. It is as if the thought of someone else being less fortunate than you is reassuring because it makes you feel your life is not so bad and you could be a lot worse off.
Watching someone elses misfortune is an extension of the reassurance you feel when you learn of someone elses bad luck.
It is easy to delight in the misfortune of others because it can be a life lesson learned for you so you can take action to avoid repeating the misfortunate incident of the hapless victim.
Reveling In The Misery Of Others
If you see or hear of these things in public it is normal to be sympathetic but in private it is easy to feel the glee of someones bad luck. You are relieved that the misfortune did not happen to you and as long as you do not know the victim it is easy to have a little chuckle to yourself if you watch a video of the incident.
When a video like this is shared on social media there is usually a note of empathy because it is not so socially acceptable to openly revel in the misery of others even if you do not know the person involved. If the video involves a friend or relative there is usually a sympathetic accompanying message that also gathers further sympathy.
Schadenfreude And The Human Perception For Tragedy And Comedy
Deep inside most people there is this perception of appropriate or inappropriate feelings depending on the relationship with the person suffering the bad luck, if you do not know the person it is easy to laugh publicly at the poor unfortunate soul involved.
The Mel Brooks quote "tragedy is what happens to me, comedy is what happens to you" could be summed up by one German word 'schadenfreude'.
Schadenfreude is my all time favourite German word, it is so good I passionately believe it should be fully adopted into the English language. My rationale for this is it perfectly describes the human perception of both tragedy and comedy.
Schadenfreude describes someone who revels in someone elses misery, but if you analyse most comedy there is an element of schadenfreude in the script of most plots.
Article By: Michael Joseph Farrelly
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