Humor is a big joke on us all. It’s one huge paradox. While it seems unconditionally benevolent, stimulating laughter and good feeling, it is often cruel, destructive, and manipulative.
So says Betty Swords. And she should know. For over twenty-five years, starting in 1955, she was a professional humorist. She sold her cartoons to the major magazine markets, including Saturday Evening Post, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Changing Times. She also produced a considerable quantity of humorous writing for such publications as McCall’s, Modern Maturity, Christian Science Monitor, and others. And beginning in 1976, Swords taught college courses in the power of humor and lectured widely on the subject.
...And then I realized that the punching bag was always a woman. “Marriage is seen as bad,” she went on, recollecting the experience as we talked on the patio in back of her Denver home in June 1995. And she cited examples of one-liners to prove her point:
Married life is great—it’s my wife I can’t stand.
He was unlucky in both his marriages—his first wife left him. And his second one won’t.
A bachelor’s last words—I do.
“Marriage is seen as horrible because it meant that the man had lost his freedom,” she continued.