Living with credit

How the humor of debt can set you free

Erica Sandberg

Debt tends to make people unhappy, anxious and grumpy, but sometimes laughing at how we got into our financial holes can relieve the stress and show us new ways to start chipping away at all that we owe.

Making light of debt was the point of a Second City comedy group’s recent San Francisco session. Goldman Sachs sponsored the evening to promote Marcus, its fee-free loan that consumers can use to repackage their debts.

The aim of the evening was to inspire people to open up – and more importantly lighten up – about their woeful balances and savings. The improv team incorporated jokes about ridiculous spending and banking habits.

A particularly funny bit about a faux Debtors Anonymous meeting went like this:

Young woman: I went on my dream vacation and used my savings for it. Cool, huh?

Facilitator: That’s great, but why are you in debt? 

Young woman: Duh! I couldn’t afford my bills at home while I was away, so I had to charge them. 

At a similar evening in New York City late in 2017, Reuters reports one sketch included a consumer who got deep into the red by buying an $8,000 cat.

Another sketch involved a landlord listing absurd fees that a renter owed for an apartment, including one for a closet and yet another for a refrigerator. 

Laughter helps you to see debt solutions

How does laughing about debt help people to dig their way out of a pile of bills?

If you’re in a good mood, chances are you’ll be in the right frame of mind to make better decisions concerning your money and financial obligations, says business psychologist Dr. Jude Miller Burke.

“Constant worrying about the lack of money coming in and growing debt leads to feelings of helplessness,” Burke says.

“An inertia can take over, making it difficult to see any possible solutions that could remedy the situation making one feel more stuck,” she adds. “Finding the humor in difficult financial situation releases tension and relaxes a person, allowing one to reframe things to look less impossible.”

Some favorite comedy bits about debt

So, what is there to laugh at about debt? Here are just a few of my favorites clips about bills and money that might make you crack up, too.

  1. Steve Martin and Amy Poehler’s SNL sketch “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford
  2. Karen Rontowski’s stand-up bit about credit card debt
  3. Tom Hanks in “The Money Pit” (A classic ’80s flick)
  4. The “Everybody Hates Chris” episode: “The Debt Collector

Have fun, laugh out loud. Then get serious about getting your financial house in shape.

“Focusing on any potential humor about your debt may help you accept the situation as it is and also help you to see alternative solutions,” says Burke. “A good laugh is medicine for most ills.”

I couldn’t agree more. If you have any other examples of debt humor, send them my way in the comments below. After all, the more the merrier! And the more we laugh, the more seriously we can tackle our debt.

See related: Chip cards lead to jokes, angst on the web, Top 10 credit card television episodes,  Heidi Montag’s intentionally stiff comedy performance plugs consumer protection

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, we ask that you do not disclose confidential or personal information such as your bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc. Keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.