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August 11, 2010

As long as I can remember, I have found amusement in the misfortune of others.  That sounds bad.  What I mean to say is (and my reaction tends to vary depending on the extenuating circumstances of the event) if someone gets hurt in front of me, I will more than likely find it very funny.  Obviously I’m not going to laugh if someone is badly wounded (I am compassionate and will spring into action – offering rides to the hospital and bandaids as needed) and even for lesser afflictions I always ask if the injured party is okay before collapsing into silent, choking giggles.  I do feel kind of badly about this, but I can’t help it - it’s my nature.  Raised with a hearty appetite for cartoon violence, I feel like spending my Saturday mornings with the likes of Wile E. Coyote really galvanized my taste for the comedic potential found with physical injury.  I would also argue that this particular trait of mine is genetic as both of my siblings share a penchant for schadenfreude, but no matter.  My point is, when a coworker fell down an entire flight of wet stairs on his back in front of me – I laughed.  When I watched my mother get chased by a gaggle of blood-thirsty,  territorial Canadian geese – I laughed.  When I brought my infant daughter home from the hospital and my husband insisted on trying my breast pump out on himself, causing him to shriek and howl in pain – I laughed.

Knowing this about my personality (and given my enthusiasm for Embarrassing Bodies), my friend Goldie was surprised when I told him that I had never seen any of the Jackass movies.  ‘Oh my god.  YOU would love them.’  I wasn’t so sure.  The lure of watching people repeatedly and willfully put themselves in harm’s way was great – but it was countered by my fear of seeing something that might make me barf. 

‘It certainly sounds like something I would like….but I’m afraid I might see poop.’  I said.

After weighing the relative pros and cons of watching something that was likely to trigger my gag reflex, I decided to cast my fears aside and dive headlong into the junk-mangling world of the Jackass oeuvre.  Friends, it was a DELIGHT.  Yes, there was some poop and yes I did almost throw up once or twice – but I also saw some of the funniest stunts committed to film.  I laughed to the point of having tears streaming down my face and I got to see this – which I loved. 

In short, it was time well spent for me and I intend to be at the theater when Jackass 3D is released this October. (You can see the trailer, here).


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2 Responses to “ Schadenfreude ”

  1. Tina on August 11, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Jane, i had no idea you were such a schadenfreude (i also never knew there was a term for it, haha).
    but, i as well am a schadenfreude, and i also feel so guilty when i can’t even help someone up from their fall b/c i’m laughing so hard. why is something so unfortunate, so funny to us? this post made me laugh out loud though, especially the part about your husband trying out the breast pump. hilarious!


    p.s. also…when people fart in public…i get hysterical, what is wrong with me?

  2. Jane on August 12, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Tina I am shocked! You are one of the sweetest people I know (and so I take enormous comfort in our shared delight in the injury of others)! I feel a bit better about laughing at Wipeout contestants and the Jackass crew because they are putting themselves in the position of getting hurt/humiliated. One time, a girl I used to work with was repeatedly stung in the back by some wasps – she tried to outrun them and just kept getting stung, arms flailing and screaming. I felt terrible for laughing…but I couldn’t help it and she was FURIOUS at me.

    ps Brian using my breast pump is hands-down one of the funniest – and grossest – things I have ever seen.

    pps people audibly farting in public cracks me up too – yoga class is always a gamble…