Mike Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and published author. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Humor isn’t always easy. Certainly, 2020 was not cooperative, and 2021 is having a really wobbly start, but I’m looking on the bright side of life.

I feel the need to explain my compulsive desire to make people laugh. It’s not just about being the center of attention. That’s only part of it. Mostly, it’s about making other people feel happy, welcome. I do it for me but also for you. It’s a win-win scenario.

It’s time to share my origin story again. My family and my five fans have already heard it – in print interviews and on TV that one time.

When I was a child, my Aunt Eleanor died. It was the first funeral I remember. I loved my aunt. I got increasingly angry at everyone who was joking and laughing in the funeral parlor as they told humorous anecdotes about her. They seemed to be enjoying themselves while I was grieving. I expressed my displeasure to my nana (my paternal grandmother). She explained, “Everyone is sad, but laughter is how they cope. These stories keep Eleanor in their hearts.”

It might not be the official time stamp when I decided to be a comedian, but it put me on my path. Humor is my coping mechanism. I might be over here telling groaners, dad jokes and bad puns, but I’m trying. I’m always trying.

Side note: If you’ve ever met me, you could say I’m very trying. Ba dum bump.

I have a very simple mantra:

I believe in laughter.

In our daily lives, we are bombarded by negative thoughts and negative people. Around the water cooler, we discuss war, gas prices and politics. The media is replete with grim images and tales of tragedy from around the world. We are fed a constant diet of death and destruction. Push it away. I say no more for me. There are leaner, lighter meals. I have chosen to embrace comedy.

I believe in laughter, from the giggle to the guffaw.

I believe in telling a 2-year-old a knock-knock joke. A small girl covers her mouth when she smiles. A young boy holds his stomach and howls. I am renewed, revitalized and ready for anything.

Laughter is not only the best medicine, it is a necessity of life, the essence of joy. The true window into our soul. When other people search their lives for meaning, I have discovered that comedy is the universal truth. It is present in even the most dour soul. Everyone wants to laugh, the saints and the sinners, the faithful and the skeptics, the Democrats and Republicans, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Especially the ugly. What else have they got?

I love a dirty limerick. A skewered song. A ribald riddle.

I believe in the Sunday comics. I kneel before the gods of stand-up. I still have faith in the sitcom. I believe in the joke, the pratfall, the silly face.

Through laughter we can find the light.

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