Canned Laughter

“Our laughter is canned…”  (by Dustin Kensrue Thrice ~ “All The World Is Mad”, track 1 on Beggars)

I would like to make it clear from the get-go that I do not know with certainty what the deacon meant when he wrote this line.  My postulation: it has something to do with the biblical truth that, by nature, man is a rebellious mocker of God.  It might be a bit of a stretch, but read on anyway…

Canned laughter is a twentieth-century invention that allegedly traces its roots all the way back to the time of William Shakespeare.  The “Laff Box” invented by Charley Douglass and more updated versions of laugh tracks have been in use on television comedies since the 1950s.  Even children’s cartoons like The Flintstones often employed laugh tracks, if you recall!  (If you care to know more about this interesting subject, read more by clicking one   of   these   links.)

Essentially, canned laughter is like reality television: It appears to be real, but it’s really all phony.  To put another way, it is a mockery.  In a spiritual sense, “our laughter is canned” represents our total depravity, expressed in our propensity to mock the things of God and, ultimately, God Himself.  Consider the opening verse from the first Psalm:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers….”  (Psalm 1:1)

(Note: Other translations render “scoffers” as “mockers”.  Also, I am indebted to the late Pastor J. Hampton Keathley III for his detailed insights and study of Psalm 1.)

While this opening verse speaks specifically and primarily of the path the godly man does not take, we gather from the same verse a description of the opposite path the ungodly man does take: walking to standing to sitting.

  • It commences with walking (“walks…in the counsel of the wicked”).  The first step is a choice to make: follow the advice of ungodly people or follow the words that lead to eternal life in God’s Word.  Many choose the former: the path that leads to destruction.
  • It continues to standing (“stands in the way of sinners…”).  Walking progresses to standing around in the company of sinners.  You start to talk and think and act like them – all the while, your heart continues to become more and more calloused.
  • It culminates in sitting (“sits in the seat of scoffers…”).  Sadly, once you reach this level, your conscience is almost utterly non-operational (see I Timothy 4:2).  You have become so accustomed to worldliness that godliness becomes the object of your mockery.

You want to know what’s worst of all?  There are many who profess to follow Jesus who are walking, standing, and sitting in this manner today – and don’t even know it!  Even their most orthodox belief system is nothing but a mockery in the eyes of God!  Guess what?  Jesus died for the sins of the ungodly and the outwardly-holy-but-inwardly-wicked!

Be blessed: walk, stand, and sit with Jesus!