As modern-day embodiments of traditional mythological trickster / jester / wise fool figures, comedians have a unique license to step outside the cultural boundary lines and poke fun – even viciously – at the very tenets of our shared conceptions of life and meaning. In this sense, they’re like shamans who transport the otherwise lulled masses to an alternate vision of reality.
It’s also really interesting that the main practical function of comedians is to make audiences laugh, being that laughter is like a mini mental orgasm during which you temporarily lose touch with your typical view of reality and level of composure (if you’ve ever been overcome by an extended bout of intense laughter, you’re familiar with how transformative and drug-trip-like that can be).
In a way, a good joke is like a Zen koan, and a genuine uncontrolled laugh is like an experience of satori. Which would make comedians equatable to Zen masters. Well, not all of them. But certainly some of them, some of the time.
Here’s a link to the Dave Chappelle Neftlix specials I reference in the podcast.