Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Comedians and Schadenfreude

I don’t think much of comedians, or at least those who are presently popular. Where would they be without the misfortunes of others? Where would they be without the Schadenfreude that they express and elicit in their audiences? To feel Schadenfreude is to take pleasure in the suffering of others. Schopenhauer rightly calls it diabolical, by contrast with envy, which is human all too human.

To get a cheap laugh, Dennis Miller recently showed a video clip of Fidel Castro falling flat on his face after stepping down from a dais. Now I’m no fan of dictator Fidel or his worker’s paradise, but he is some mother’s son, and no man is a demon. To gloat over an old man’s physical failing – isn’t there something morally dubious about that?