Why Joke About Terror & Loss?

I find it pretty shocking that the well-respected SNL would vet a skit that pokes fun at something that’s spreading terror across the globe. “Take care of my daughter…. death to America?” What’s up with the SNL ISIS SKIT? Come on. Not funny at all. In the face of the recent attacks, beheadings, and immolation why joke about terror and loss? As well as the missing UK and Canadian teenage girls who seem to have disappeared to join ISIS. Can’t most of us too well imagine what the parents and loved ones of those who’ve been killed or gone missing must be going through?  I think we can.  So, why, SNL?

The only possible reason I can think of is using supposed humor to run away from the very real anxieties and serious threat ISIS evokes in all of us. Running away from such feelings by laughing them off is, of course, an unconscious psychological defense. However, I’d like to think that someone at the helm of SNL is actually thinking about what’s really needed in a time of loss and fear. But no. Here is the evidence: the SNL ISIS SKIT.

n my experience as a psychologist and psychoanalyst, what helps is listening, taking feelings seriously, not shoving them aside. What’s decidedly not helpful is making light of difficult feelings. Or worse, jabbing insensitive humor at them.

Read more.

Posted in

Dr. Sandra E. Cohen

I’m Dr. Sandra Cohen, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA. I work with creatives in therapy, story/character development, and entertainment consulting. If you are a writer, actor, or director and want help with a character – or a chance to do some of your own personal work - call at 310.273.4827 or email me at to schedule a confidential discussion to explore working together.