"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." Mel Brooks
The inability to succeed in the face of adversity and cosmic cruelty may not seem comical at first but is actually hilarious when one steps back and examines the situation.
But why do we laugh at adversity? Why do we derive joy from the hurts of others? Why is shadenfreude so gratifying? I doubt many of us actually wish to see others hurt. We are not sadists with secret, malicious intentions hoping that everybody is in as much pain as possible.
Nonetheless, being in a difficult situation can be often induce the greatest laughter because it reminds us of our humanity. When we see somebody struggling and failing it is hilarious because it reminds us of how hard humans have to work and how ridiculous the odds of success are. There's a reason that stories of a person defying the odds are heartwarming; because they are rare and unlikely. For every person that succeeds there are thousands upon thousands of people who will not, and attempts to succeed can break one down into a hysterical fit of laughter.
The laughter elicited from the depths of my diaphragm when you fall into the sewer is not the result of the pain you feel or the hurt that happens to you. It stems from the realization of how vulnerable and human I am and how easily I can be trapped in such a situation. It reminds me of the crazy system the world has set up in which we are reaching for material wealth and random aspirations without thinking at all about what true happiness is. People are pushing, shoving, and fighting each other to reach the top at all costs and this continues generation after generation in pointless attempts to attain ill-defined goals.
The ineffectiveness of trying connects us in the crazy world. We are fallible and futility ties us together as humans. With a "you against the world" mentality there is always a struggle to 'win' and when we do struggle we are able to relate with everyone and see how ridiculous manic competition can be and we should learn to stop fighting and start accepting each others gifts as who we are.