Wednesday, April 22, 2009

LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANKRUPTCY

Okay, maybe for you the current economic downturn isn't very funny, but then again The Great Depression was one of the high points of American humor, from screwball movie comedies to
the great radio comedians of the day, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Burns and Allen, Fibber Magee and Molly, Amos and Andy, Fred Allen. And today, rarely a night goes by when Jay Leno doesn't do a whole slew of jokes about the economy, not to mention Jon Stewart and all others.

I just came across a wild and politically incorrect commercial for Hyundai, of all companies, and you should check it out at:

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/0ecc000105/hyundai-assurance-commercial


One of my most successful cartoonists in terms of taking the gags I write and selling them to
top magazines like Harvard Business Review, Playboy, Barrons, The Law Journal, and even The Wall St. Journal, just took three new ones, all related to the current economy, to draw up and submit (warning--adult content)

CHAIRMAN COMPLETELY NUDE SPEAKS TO NUDE BOARD AROUND TABLE.
"I don't know what else we can do to demonstrate our willingness to cut back on frills."
****************************************
MAN IN BED SEXUALLY ENTWINED WITH WOMAN.
"I had to beg for a bailout, have had to live on takeout, and now you want me to pull out?"
**********************
CHAIRMAN OF BOARD TO BOARD MEMBERS AROUND TABLE.
"We will have to bailout before the crash landing if we want our golden parachutes to open."
********************************

We need to laugh more than ever now that there seems to be less to laugh about. It should be a basic law of the universe:

When things look dark and gloomy, find a way to laugh about it all.

In seminars years ago, one strategy I suggested for people experiencing some major upset or
stress or disappointment in their lives was to write some jokes about it, one-liners for a comedy monologue. After all, that's what many comedians do, use humor to voice their unhappiness about their lives.

I'm even figuring out how to write a prison memoir that will be funny, and have thought of
doing some standup comedy using my prison experiences and the culture shock of coming out into the world and onto the Internet after twelve years of isolation. Laughing at the sheer absurdity of life, with all its tragedy, is one of the oldest and most effective coping mechanisms of all. 

During my incarceration, I wrote over ten thousand individual cartoon gags, a number of which appeared in major publications. Only about 10% had to do with prison, crime, lawyers, but I
just looked over some of the ones in those categories from the Summer of 2008:

OLDER CONVICT TO CELLMATE:
"Times are really tough out there--the home I bought thirty years ago is now only worth twice what I paid for it!"

CONVICT TO CELLMATE WHO IS TYPING ON LAPTOP:
"I know we're not allowed to have laptops, and I don't even want to think about how your wife smuggled that in."

ONE LION TO ANOTHER IN JUNGLE:
"Lawyers are the easiest to catch, but the hardest to digest."

CONVICT TO CELLMATE:
"I've always wanted to be part of something much bigger than myself--which is why I find it
so satisfying that over two million Americans are in prison."

FOREMAN OF JURY AT TRIAL HANDS NOTE TO BAILIFF:
"After three days of deliberation, we finally took a vote and here are the names of two
members we voted off the jury."

CONVICT TO CELLMATE SITTING ON BUNK WITH STEEL TOILET VISIBLE.
"When you come right down to it, having a toilet right in our dining area is convenient."

MIDDLE-AGED EXECUTIVE TYPE CONVICT TO CELLMATE:
"My problem was I never learned to delegate my criminal activities."

Honing my sense of humor while living under these pretty horrible conditions of deprivation and dehumanization and humiliation was a real saving grace. And I'll share here one of the most shocking, absurd, and yes, sad, truths about my prison experience:

During those twelve years, I was in touch with a number of old and new friends, mostly via good old-fashioned snail mail--phoning wasn't easy--you had to book sometimes a week in
advance for 15 minutes on the phone, all calls were collect, and there was no way to call information to get someone's number. And, of course, inmates have no online access, so the
first email I ever sent had to wait until my release in August, 2008. And the shocking, absurd, sad truth? During that twelve years, there were many instances where people I contacted on the outside were much more imprisoned than I was!  They had painted themselves into emotional corners, or dramatically limited their choices and self-awareness, or just got caught up in the trials and tribulations of family, jobs, health issues, etc.  I would go so far to say I was,
waking up most mornings with robust expectations, writing every day, reading every day, in
much better shape and having a fuller, more satisfying life than some of these friends did for
various periods throughout that twelve years. And I certainly was thinking funnier than almost all of them. 

Who knows, maybe that should be my calling. Rather than strategies for becoming psychologically clear about money and success, I could focus on teaching people how to see the humor in all the adversity that comes up in a normal life, all the obstacles and challenges.
I could revert to the very first job description I ever received--from my first grade teacher in
South Philadelphia, Mrs. Kay--"class clown."

                                       Jerry

                                                           

And by the way, the new MetLife survey, one of the most comprehensive ever conducted of Americans and their feelings and fears about the economy, and which I'll discuss, perhaps in my next post (www.MetLife.com), found that for many Americans, this is a time when relationships are more important than material gains. This fits in perfectly with the relationship marketing involved in enjoying and telling people about Xocai healthy dark chocolate. I am still building my team, so if interested, check out my short phone recording at (650) 589-8495, or the short video at www.UnguiltyPleasures.net, or contact me at jerrygillies@gmail.com.
At least you can get a couple of delicious samples out of it.





1 comment:

Virginia Sound Man said...

Interesting post, Jerry!

I especially agree with your comments about your life in prison being more fulfilling then the lives of many people you knew on the outside. I have been talking about that and blogging about a very very concept in my blog, livingandworkingfree.blogspot.com where I explore the concepts of embodied by the title.

People create their own prisons and enslave themselves to acquire things and lose sight of the fact that everything that embodies a happy, fulfilling, satisfying, exciting, love-filled life is basically free. We've become an instant gratification world. The Bible says, "The wages of sin is death" - but "the wages of instant gratification is debt" - my quote.

I think self-imposed imprisonment may be far more difficult, stressful and life shortening then the imprisonment imposed by a legal system - in most cases. For most prison inmates, I would assume that they would have the hope of freedom someday. they have freedom to look forward to.

The self-imprisoned are addicts - they are seeking happiness through stuff and not through relationships, love, sharing, caring and giving. Too many of these people never find true happiness, fulfillment and FREEDOM.

Thanks for sharing from your experience. It is helpful and affirms much of my thoughts, feelings and philosophy. You may be right, about the focus of your work. Money will never buy happiness and freedom. It's just a necessary tool to exist in a screwed up world. Maybe you should focus on living a freer, more fulfilling life.

Enthusiastically,
Ed Helvey, your old NSA friend

PS, I think I might like to either repost this posting on my blog - with your permission, of course, and proper attribution