When Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Jason Gray and Matt Meese are trying to be funny, they’re very funny. More and more people are discovering this fact as the popularity of their BYUtv sketch comedy show, “Studio C,” continues to grow, especially among young viewers looking for the kind of laughter they can share with friends and parents alike.
When these four very funny people were asked to address teens who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about how humor affects our lives (for both good and ill), they had some pretty serious insights to share. Here’s what they had to say.
Q: What’s the role of good humor in our lives?
Whitney Call: Humor that connects people is the purest form of joy you can get from it. Humor that alienates people — people might laugh at that, but there’s a difference between laughing at something and really deriving joy from humor.
Matt Meese: Being able to laugh at something gives us a certain amount of power over that thing. If something horrible happens to you and all you can do is laugh, that gives you a little opportunity to say, “This isn’t going to be the end of me. This doesn’t have to defeat me. I can rise above this. I can laugh and move forward.”
WC: I think having that sense of humor allows you to not see your life so much in tunnel vision but to be able to have a broader perspective.
MM: If “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25), then humor has to be a part of that.
Jason Gray: Even the general authorities use humor in conference talks sometimes. It makes you connect with them even more. When I was a youth, I always liked leaders who were funny. I felt like I could connect to them, even though they were 20 or 30 years older than me. And so, because I already liked spending time with them, I respected more the words they said when they did get serious.
Mallory Everton: I think humor is very unifying. Sometimes it’s hard to find common ground with people. But humor is a really easy way to find that common ground.
WC: And with teenagers, acceptance is what you’re looking for. If someone has accepted you with humor, that’s a really quick way to bond.
JG: I had a bully in sixth grade who would kind of torture me. So I found out what types of movies he liked and stuff he thought was funny, and I started quoting it, and we connected there. He would start to laugh at my jokes instead of wanting to beat me up, and we actually became good friends.
Q: What about the dark side of humor?
ME: I think one of the darkest forms of humor, especially for teens, would be making fun of others, making jokes at other people’s expense. That’s exclusive humor — when everybody isn’t included. Our favorite kind of humor is celebratory — something where we can all laugh together. But being the butt of a cruel, malicious joke that’s meant to hurt is a very dark side of humor. It happens a lot.
MM: The kind of humor that makes light of sacred things is offensive. That has ramifications galore, as far as hurting people’s faith and testimony, which I think is one of the worst things you could do. Humor can definitely be used for evil purposes just like almost anything in this world can. There’s always going to be an answer from the devil as far as his version of things, and humor’s no exception.
Q: What’s the difference between light-heartedness and light-mindedness?
WC: I think light-heartedness is the ability to dig yourself out of your circumstances — to not be reacting but to act in your own circumstances. I think when your laughter takes control of your situation, that becomes more light-mindedness.
ME: I think light-heartedness is to light-mindedness as childlike is to childish. The idea of having a childlike disposition is that you’d approach life in a very curious and open, loving, appreciative way, very humble and kind of fresh. Light-mindedness takes it too far. It becomes immature. It becomes inappropriate. Plus, if you’ve ever been with someone who just makes jokes the entire time — it’s exhausting. It’s like, “I know you can make jokes, but are you a human being?”
JG: Humor is how you bond with people, but there is a time to talk about serious things.
ME: My brother was my seminary teacher and taught a lesson on unity. And he compared unity with being in cahoots (in a secretive conspiracy). For instance, you can bond with a girl because you both don’t like someone else. What a negative way to form a bond. You can both make fun of this girl and laugh, but you’re in cahoots, not unified. That kind of bond just dissolves because it’s not based on anything real.
Q: What if your friends start to giggle at the wrong things? What do you do?
WC: Flood them with positive examples of laughter, because just being stern won’t work. I think they have to encounter something better.
ME: Just to make sure you have the Spirit with you. Just do the little things to try and keep in touch with the Spirit. And if you feel like something doesn’t edify you, then find something that does instead.
Q: You’ve probably known some people who were very insecure and maybe masked that insecurity with laughter or humor. What would you say to those people?
MM: I was one of those people.
ME: I think all of us may have been.
WC: We still are. I don’t know that that awkward side of people ever truly leaves. But try to get the Spirit in your life to where you can just feel confident as an individual, as a child of God. Get that reassurance. But I think positive humor is one of the best ways we can deal with new problems.
MM: Remember, your value doesn’t come from whether or not you’re making people laugh. It’s just inherent. You have that value. You are valuable. And so, don’t pin your identity and your worth on whether or not people are enjoying you or being entertained by you. If you do, you’re giving up your feeling of self-worth and putting it into the hands of someone who may or may not care what they do with it.
Q: Do you have anything else to add?
MM: This is the gospel of happiness. God’s whole purpose is to bring about the eternal life of man so that we can have a fulness of joy. And humor certainly helps us enjoy the journey and probably get more out of it. It allows us to make the most of what we have here so that our time isn’t wasted.
WC: We all have different gifts that can serve the same purpose, which is to return to our Heavenly Father and to bring as many people with us as we can, because that’s where we’ll have the most joy. If we are aware that everything we do is to build up the kingdom of God, we will be amazed at the power and possibilities we have.
JG: I’m just grateful that our Heavenly Father gave us a sense of humor, because like a lot of people, I had a really hard time — in middle school, especially. I got picked on a lot, and humor’s what made me survive. I just hope that kids never get too hard on themselves and that they can find the good in the world even when life seems really tough, especially during those really hard years. Keep on going and look for good things that make you happy.
ME: I know that Heavenly Father knows and loves us as individuals and appreciates us for who we are. There have been times where I have had an image of perfection in my mind. But I’ve had experiences where I felt very inadequate and have not measured up to that image. And somewhere along the line, I realized that the Lord wanted to use me for what made me me, for the things that I love, for the things that I can offer. Our individuality is one of the reasons the Lord loves us so much, and He can utilize us all in different ways and for different purposes. So remember that the Lord loves you for you, and he will use the talents you develop to build the kingdom.
Episodes of "Studio C" air Mondays at 8 p.m. on BYUtv. See the schedule at byutv.org. The cast of "Studio C" will be performing during the 2015 RootsTech conference at the closing event on Feb. 14. See RootsTech.org for registration and other information.