Charmed by the Irish sense of humour, Student Ambassador Blake Stephens has learned to approach some of life’s most difficult moments with laughter and light-heartedness.
Chauncey Olcott and George Graff Jr. were correct when writing that ‘in the lilt of Irish laughter you can hear the angels sing’.
For those who are fortunate enough to meet an Irish person, or to travel to Ireland, I can guarantee that at some point you will be unable to resist laughing, guffawing or chuckling at some joke or statement made while watching the world go by. Those familiar with Ireland will know exactly what I mean. In Ireland, it seems normal to smile and laugh one’s way through life. The more exposure one has to Ireland and Irish people, the quicker one realises how fundamental humour is to Irish social interactions.
Humour, as an essential element of Irish life, is effortlessly used at every opportunity. I was introduced to this fabled mastery of humour during my first flight to Ireland. In a desperate attempt to cool my temperature on a hot aircraft under the blazing South African sun, I whispered to the Irish passenger next to me that it was awfully hot on our flight to Ireland. He immediately smiled at me and replied: ‘I know. Isn’t it marvellous? We’ll be needing a lot more of this where we’re going. His seamless ability to turn what was to most on the flight, a nuisance, into a source of welcome relief was pleasantly disarming and charming. This interaction planted the first seed of my interest in Irish humour.
Soon, I was fascinated by how all of life, including some of its more difficult moments, could be livened and made more engaging with the addition of humour. I observed how humour seems indelible to life here. Humour’s understated yet powerful influence to break barriers, make someone’s day brighter and bring a much-needed source of relief, cannot be underestimated. No situation is unsuited to the addition of humour and, soon enough, one begins to wonder how life could ever have been lived without the endless spontaneous bursts of laughter and without the famous ‘twinkle in the eye’.
Living In Ireland has taught me many lessons, but to use humour on a regular basis is one I hold most dear to my heart. Once one witnesses ‘Irish eyes smiling’ and experiences the lightness and joy of the associated humour, life seems incomplete without a daily peppering of humour. Instead of an apple, a laugh a day to keep the doctor away seems much more effective, and more fun!
Blake is studying Law and Political Science at Trinity College Dublin.