Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am Lauren, schadenfreude enthusiast

Uncontrollable laughter is something I have always struggled with. I often find myself unsuccessfully concealing my giggles and trying to excuse and explain myself for laughing at the most inappropriate of times. Hold my breath, close my eyes, count to ten, whatever... a good giggle is one of the hardest things to shake.

So what gets me so tickled, you ask? A good fall, an awkward fart... Oh, an abundance of specific examples come to my mind. I remember so many of them so, so vividly, as though they have been defining moments in my life. But I'll spare you all the details, for they all boil down to one common theme... me impulsively and uncontrollably laughing at somebody's misfortune (my own included).

As you must imagine, America's Funniest Home Videos is a favorite of mine. I've been caught countless times alone, on the couch, in tears, because this show has gotten me so cracked up.
Watching people fall never, ever gets old...

Not until last year in my Honors Western Civilization discussion class did I learn that there is actually a name for this... schadenfreude. I don't even remember what text we were studying, but I was thrilled to learn that, apparently, I am not alone in my twisted sense of humor... the bulk of the sterotypical German population shares in this enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others. That's it, I must be German. I've always had a thing for leiderhosen.

Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of attending a performance of the Tony Award-winning musical, Avenue Q. Among the many hilariously candid numbers, each performed predominently by puppets and referencing varoius cultural taboos (racism, homosexuality, just to name a few), I found the song, Schadenfreude, to be particularly pertinent...
*please excuse some of the vocabulary*

Oh, Schadenfreude, huh?
What's that, some kinda Nazi word?

Yup! It's German for "happiness at the misfortune of others!"

"Happiness at the misfortune of others." That is German!