What are two grumpy dwarves doing in a God play?
Staring at a barn door in the middle of nowhere.
Of course, Bodhidharma—founder of Zen Buddhism–spent nine years in a cave, staring at a wall.
Perhaps more to the point, the idea that a comic element is inherent in the divine is suggested by the classic God play, Okina, in which a Noh actor dons the Hakushikijo mask to assume the character of the god:
And a Kyogen actor, Sambaso, dons the Kokushikijo mask to assume the character of…well…a man, a being not as felicitous in the abstract as the god, but having the crucial power to dispel demons and protect the harvest:
People do tend to laugh at ill-tempered characters who do not represent a threat. As a person who has been preternaturally grave since childhood, I sometimes wonder why people laugh when they do, and whether the delight that they experience arises from a feeling of intimacy with funny characters or distance from them. Maybe people watch comedies and feel that they have made friends, or at least the kind of casual acquaintance one is glad to have met but not to have married. Friends have foibles. Maybe we laugh with relief that their eccentricities are benign.
I have written in another post here that Noh is a ritual for the cultivation of empathy. The theater is a safe place to practice for the kind of intense confrontation that we dread when we experience it elsewhere because it demands so much of us. How can I placate the soul who suffers before me, and of what use am I if I fail? In comedy, the stakes are simply not so high. Characters fall and pick themselves up, sometimes again and again. Life brings surprises, many of them pleasant. The role of the audience is, for a time, merely to relax, to be entertained.
Come to Sorya! and be entertained. Taro, Jiro, the Master, the Red Dwarf, the Black Dwarf, and Lucy are waiting for you.
To play’s the thing.