After I wrote this little post about being surprised that High Times in the Low Parliament is a Nebula finalist, I realized I didn’t say why I was surprised by it getting a Nebula nod. I was surprised because it’s a comedy, and comedies are a risk and a hard sell. Drama is universal. What’s dramatic to me is probably dramatic to lots of people. But what’s funny to me isn’t necessarily funny to you, or anyone.
Nothing fails harder than a failed comedy (except a failed musical — that fails worst of all). So why write comedies at all? Why take the risk? Because we need them. And because comedy can tell us truths tragedy can’t.
Truths like: Humans may be ridiculous, but we are not unsalvagable.
Truths like: The things we spend so much time and effort on may not matter at all, while the truly important things are overlooked.
Truths like: We can come together when we lower our boundaries, and it’s worth it.
Truths like: There is value in laughing with friends, in gormless goodwill.
Truths like: Life may be precarious, but we can still find moments to vibe with each other
Truths like: Despite overwhelming evidence, you can be happy and safe. Life can get better. But to do this, we need other people to be happy, safe, and better with.
This is not a pollyanna point of view. I have not lived a cushy life and aside from waves hands, the past couple years have been especially hard. The death of my mom from dementia, and my dear friend from ALS. The exposure of two other treasured elders as horrific moral failures. Yeah, that was fun. In the middle of all that, things were so dark I had to make my own light.
And that’s why we need comedies more than ever. All good comedies address how difficult it is to be alive, to age, to change. Comedies show us we can move away the places of caution and safety that are killing us, and the risk is worthwhile. Comedies prove that even when we’re buried in the tragedy of being alive, someday we will laugh again.
In conclusion, I would love to see more comedies in SFF. I think we need them. Here’s a great one: GLITTERATI by Oliver K. Langmead. I guess you’d call it social satire but no, it’s a freaking comedy — Zoolander in the future, if you will. I loved it. Maybe you will too.