Soupy Sales was known as a comedian. But upon reflection after hearing of his death I now view him as somewhat of a theologian as well.
Making people laugh, that is, making a funny joke, requires an amusing mixture between truth and contempt, between the spiritual with the worldly.
Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg curiously described laughter as an affection of truth mixed with a worldly or corporeal inclination. The death of Soupy Sales (who I grew up watching as a youth) has caused me to meditate on the topic of laughter, especially in regard to Swedenborg’s insight. Soupy Sales was best known for taking a pie in the face—even the most famous guests on his TV show (Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Shirley MacLaine) were splattered as well.
Consider this—all jokes deliver some kind of irony about truth. It is this underlying “truth” that comedy delivers that causes the delight we feel in laughter. For instance, a pie in the face communicates the TRUTH that no single person is intrinsically more important than any other person. There is a kind of social justice attached to the pie-smeared face of a celebrity, politician or wealthy person. On the spiritual side (beyond the worldly contempt) is the recognition of the importance of humility.
All religions teach humility. In fact, you can’t enter the gates of heaven without it. Therefore, a pie-in–the-face could be used as a potent symbol for spiritual salvation.
So when you die and see your family and loved ones again in the world beyond, do not be surprised by their wide grins or that they are hiding something behind their backs!
To be continued . . .