Though we don’t know the ultimate secret of laughter, even laughter at ourselves, we can see that contradiction, or at least apparent contradiction, has something to do with it. Man, whatever else he is, is a double creature, who in one sense is an animal, but in another sense is not one, for no animal recognizes his animality. Man can see the difference, always, between what he is and what he ought to be, between the positivistic fact and the ethical norm. Every man is therefore something of a hypocrite, because no one lives up to his pretensions, yet we realize that we should be even more degraded if we were wholly without such pretensions. The fact that we are hypocrites is the source of most of our hope and also the source of most of our anguish. But the hypocrite is always vulnerable to ridicule! This is why it is easy for us to understand the meaning of Christ’s wit when He directs his barbs at the religious. He is talking to us! But the purpose of all of the Gospel, even of its jokes, is redemption. -The Humor of Christ by Elton Trueblood, pp. 40.
On our best days we can’t live up to our own standards, let alone God’s. We are walking contradictions wearing masks and pretending all is good in the world.
Jesus throws the barbs of whitewashed tombs, brood of vipers, and people who wash the outside of cups, but forget the inside, to remind us of our contradictory ways, and our need for grace and salvation.
When the laughter dies down, we are left with ourselves. The ones wearing the masks.