Laughter in this sense renders the temple more sacred because it ensures a visitation by the gods. Most clowns are deeply aware of their responsibility to both their human and supernatural audiences and use their joking to find a balance between the conflicting pulls of the spiritual and mundane worlds. As there is no greater threat to that balance than the changes wrought by tourism, progress, and development, these have emerged as major themes in the Balinese comic repertory. Mocking the disruptive potential of these modern forces, clowns in Bali help the islanders to integrate the traditions of the past with the demands of the present.
Performing in temple spectacles whose origins go back to the fifteenth century, Balinese clowns appear as servants, storytellers, and lovers, but whatever form they take, their function is seen as necessary to the preservation of the island's cultural identity. They bring the community together with threads of laughter that connect the audience to their gods, their history, their ancestors, and each other.