A place to read humorous stories
So the University rejected “Does God have a sense of humour?” as a thesis topic. Someone had even scribbled, “Have you read the holy writings?”
I had. I did, again. All of them. Many made me feel as if I’d landed in an outer circle of hell. Then it hit me. Hell? That was it! The ‘The Divine Comedy’ would give me answers! I bought up copies/translations of Dante’s classic work. Next, I hired people to distribute them to the world’s most famous places of worship – all of them. The gods would be watching. Omniscient beings are often accused of being literal-minded, joyless sticklers for discipline. Here was their big chance to disprove the nay-sayers. They’d approve of my distribution of ‘The Divine Comedy’ to church doorsteps, right?
I waited for an outburst of good humor. Instead, I received phone calls (‘Who’s this illustrator? This Gustave Doré? I want him for my horror zine’), threats (‘I’ll kill you if you dare to suggest that God’s funny’), and messages from the S&M crowd (‘That hell’s so cool. Count me in’). Finally, divinity students sent earnest letters headed ‘Dear brother ...’ and ending with biblical references to get me into heaven.
(I also received requests for first editions of Dante. Clearly, profit ranked high on some scales of belief.)
Then letter bombs and improvised explosive devices started arriving, so I vacated my premises and hit the road. In an effort to strike divine-comedy-gold, I decided to conduct interviews. The Australians were the funniest. While resolutely noncommittal about God’s actual existence, they pointed to the platypus as overwhelming evidence that ‘god’ had a wicked sense of humour.
Next, I sought out comedians who joked about God. To my dismay, the funniest wanted to talk about their ambition to play supremely unfunny roles. In their words: “Forget God: give me Macbeth, Lear, Othello!”
I turned to visionaries. Surely those who spent so much time close to God would know. Saint Hilarion (291 – 371) (the name means happy) would help. However, this saint began by shunning the pleasures of his day and wound up basket-weaving, shifting to stay ahead of his would-be followers and fasting to the point of death.
My heart sank. Surely, if God had a sense of humor, he would have given Hilarion a laugh or two along the way?
I focussed on the word ‘humour’ itself. One listing read: humor 1340, "fluid or juice of an animal or plant," from Anglo-Norm. humour, from O.Fr. humor, from L. umor "body fluid" (also humor, by false assoc. with humus "earth"), related to umere "be wet, moist," and to uvescere "become wet."
So ‘humour’ derived from ‘fluid’. Who knew? But this was getting me nowhere. I decided to ask God himself. My questionnaire read:
Dear God, are you funny? If yes, tick the box below. If not, forget it. You don’t know me. Let’s keep it that way.
I nailed this to my front door and installed state of the art cameras. If a fly buzzed past, the cameras would catch it. Surely God himself would answer.
As it happened, semi-liquid bird poo hit the questionnaire box and ran down, turning it into a giant teardrop.
I took this as a ‘yes’. Somewhere, God was laughing.
Brenda Anderson’s fiction has appeared in various places, including Flash Fiction Online and Daily Science Fiction. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia and tweets irregularly @CinnamonShops