Comedy tends to make light of other’s misfortunes. Tragedy focuses on adversity for dramatic effect. What is it about man that he finds misery to be both humorous and heartbreaking?
The distinction between comedy and tragedy has a lot to do with who is suffering. If it is someone you know and are close to, the effect of the comedy is blunted. It is much easier to mock someone you do not know; and a bit harder to truly feel for them in their difficulties.
To the credit of many, things tend to be funnier when nobody gets hurt. If the person falling down the stairs shatters their leg in the process, the humor dissipates rather quickly. The mood swiftly changes from mirth, to genuine concern for another’s well-being.
However, the foolish get little sympathy. Since they brought the misery on themselves, a great deal of enjoyment can be had at their expense. And it is without the regret that would come from ridiculing the merely unfortunate.
Also, there is a human empathy for those who truly suffer. Even a stranger can provoke a great deal of pity when they have experienced a grievous loss. If children or the elderly are involved, the heartfelt concern is greatly amplified.
Laughter is a means of relieving stress. It is healthy and therapeutic. Conversely, through the shedding of tears the soul is cleansed. We live in a world full of suffering. Without this release, we would all go mad.