Humor Can Manifest in Processing Your Post-Divorce Feelings

  • Recent HBO show "Crashing" highlights the comedic side in divorce recovery.
  • Studies have shown a correlation between tragedy, humor, and the passage of time.
  • Processing the divorce experience in a productive method can help your recovery.

"In focusing on what can be considered comedic or entertaining, these individuals are distancing themselves from the negative aspects of the experience."

There is an old idiom that basically says that if you didn’t laugh about your problem or problems, you’d cry about them. For some individuals who have experienced divorce or various types of traumas, that can be true. They can see the avenue as an inexpensive, healthy way of releasing the complexity of their emotions.

The idea of turning the particular trauma of a divorce into comedy is one of specific individuals and has been highlighted in various television programs recently.


HBO’s “Crashing” is a semi-autobiographical detailing of the life of comedian and former late-night talk show host Pete Holmes and how he dealt with his divorce, while balancing his life in comedy. The show highlights how he had to learn how to move on after his wife cheated on him.

Those types of traumatic events can be emotionally demoralizing for many, if not most, individuals and rightfully so. According to the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 54 percent of women and 57 percent of men have admitted to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had. However, the experience in creating a comedic collaboration detailing many of the events that happened to him in his personal life allowed for a therapeutic experience.

Therapeutic experience

The idea of enlisting comedy or laughter as a means of therapy requires an honest conversation, regarding what the feelings one is dealing with regarding the ending of the marriage itself, the soon-to-be ex-spouse, the idea of a divorce, the splitting of assets, and all that turning one life into two entails.

Many have found laughter and productivity to be the best medicine. Through detailing the story of their individual divorces, Lisa Marie Wilson and Kathleen Kinmont started an internet comedy web series about breakups. They have stated that they did this not because they were distraught over the ends of their respective marriages, but because they found that making each other laugh was an effective cure.

Humor and tragedy

Mark Twain once wrote that humor is tragedy plus time, and that sentiment does tend to resonate in many individuals who have experienced tragedies or mishaps. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder examined two factors that jointly influence the perceptions of humor: the degree to which a stimulus is a violation and one’s perceived distance from the stimulus.

The research indicated that psychological distance enhances humor and that closeness to a given situation increases the humor perceived. It also highlighted how because distance reduces the threat of a situation, tragedies fail to be funny when an individual is too close. However, mishaps also lose their humor when an individual is too far from them to care about the events.

Seeking comfort

While these notions regarding comedy and tragedy may have been Twain’s perspective, it does not necessarily apply to everyone, especially after a divorce. Many people feel broken after their divorce. Many develop anxiety and other mental health issues that require support and attention. Many seek unhealthy comforts by abusing drugs and alcohol. Finding an outlet that doesn’t include destructive means is crucial to recovery and maintaining one’s health.

Many simply are not looking toward laughter and comedy during a time of mental and emotional distress, and that’s okay, as well. The avenue is not necessarily for everyone, but for those that seek laughter and comedy, in light of their divorce, it’s important to remember that there are other perspectives on the matter that you need to be respectful toward. If you are a parent, you may want to be careful about inflicting any levity into your child’s view of how their parent views the divorce itself. They’ve just experienced a trauma, and their life has been split in two.

That being said, an individual needs to seek what avenues provide them the most comfort. In creating an opportunity to process a divorce and all of the experiences that ending a marriage and relationship entails, you are highlighting different perspectives of divorce itself. While many see it as the ending of a marriage, most fail to realize it for being the end to an unhappy marriage.

In focusing on what can be considered comedic or entertaining, these individuals are distancing themselves from the negative aspects of the experience. A divorce can be destructive, and while many might look to feelings of anger and resentment to fuel a cloud of negativity in times of struggles, cases like Holmes, Wilson, and Kinmont show how a simple laugh can fuel the productivity in the wake of what once was.

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