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Thread: You've Got To Be Kidding!

  1. #1
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    You've Got To Be Kidding!

    You’ve Got to Be Kidding!

    For the past decade and a half, late night comedians have been shouting variations of the mantra, “You can’t make this stuff up!” That’s good news – or bad news - depending on how you look at it. For comedy writers: all aspects of Western culture have never seemed so, well, ridiculous. To use a pundit’s cliché, “low hanging fruit” has never been more ripe for the pickin’. That goes not only for self-absorbed celebrities but government leaders as well. It’s almost as if folks in the public eye go out of their way to make fools of themselves.

    With the ubiquitous nature of social media, everybody wants to get into the act. The split-second in the virtual spotlight, as well as the delicious satisfaction of expressing (self)righteous indignation makes an opportunity to post an irreparably public comment hard to resist. Although most of my fellow Americans are congenitally literal-minded and sincere to fault, there has always been a cadre of wise-crackers, both pro and am, never letting a chance for a good joke go to waste.

    Which brings us to a “Daily Beast” web article by Ken Jennings, an author and commentator who first caught the public eye on a tv game show. (Hmm, who else reached the top of the national scene via that route?) Anyway, Ken Jennings states that “[S]o much of the news today is flagrantly un-funny.” He must be watching a different channel.

    Jennings believes our culture has become “saturated” with humor or attempts at such. Blaming the advertising industry as one of the guilty parties, he deplores the “anarchic absurdity and winking irony” within the 188 funny ads the average American sees per day. Well, let me ask you something, Ken: what would you rather sit through: a long spiel about “locked in” life insurance by your old pal Alex Trebek or a free-wheeling car insurance commercial that makes you laugh (at least the first time you see it?)

    Another culprit is the way computer tech and social media have permeated our culture, which according to some, contributed to our collective“short attention span.” To Jennings that seems to imply that jokes, which require brevity, are tailor-made for the new modes of communication with their (forgive me, Ken) “lightning rounds” of rapid repartee.

    Another reason Jennings provides for humor’s “saturation” is the declining participation in religion, the all-time border wall to comedy. He writes

    Historically, organized religion has generally opposed merrymaking of all kinds. But religion's declining influence has opened the field to other systems for making sense of the universe—and comedy is an appealing option. Instead of explaining the randomness of life as God's Unknowable Plan, why not lean into the absurdity? Why not laugh when you can? Even the churches have figured this out, replacing the scriptures on their marquees with squeaky-clean one-liners like "Son Screen Prevents Sin Burn" and "God Answers Knee-Mail."

    Granted, in addition to brevity, wit depends upon an element of surprise, not easily sprung upon an omniscient being. Hence it’s highly unlikely for mere mortals to pull the Supreme Being’s leg. And maybe that’s why there’s allegedly no humor in the Bible (if you ignore the slapstick scene of Jacob wrestling with the angel, the sit-com like escapades of Noah’s drunkenness, and the rom-com scenario of late-in-life pregnancy with Sarah, and in the New Testament, Elizabeth.) Not to mention the multi-lingual puns literally lost in translation. But some folks are scandalized at the very thought that the Good Book might contain a grain of levity.

    On the other hand, if it’s arrogant to insist upon one’s own brand of religion (including atheism), it’s just as arrogant to assume that God Himself doesn’t have a Divine Sense of Humor. Look at some of his creations: the plant which (thankfully) blossoms only once a decade or so. Remember what Robin Williams said about the platypus. And what’s funnier than sex?

    Well, the Proverb tells us “Pride goeth before a fall;” ergo, there’s a human creation that’s always funny– politics. Despite what Jennings says about the news, any cable news show is good for a chuckle, intended or not. There’s nothing funnier than a blowhard spewing nonsense and hot air, especially when he takes himself dead seriously. That goes for most politicians – to use the commentator’s favorite phrase –“from both sides of the aisle.”

    Not only is it acceptable to make fun of leaders, it’s almost a necessity. And you might be shocked, --shocked!– at the idea, but the more tyrannical the leader. At the risk of invoking Godwin’s law, there has been a long tradition of making fun of Hitler. From Donald Duck to Charlie Chaplin, all the way up to Mel Brooks, artists and writers shoveled ridicule upon the evil madman. It takes incredible courage to risk one’s life to do this.

    Yet these days younger people, dubbed “snowflakes” don’t even want to hear it. They’d rather avoid even listening to subject matter that is “negative” or somehow “micro-aggressive” or maybe makes them feel “sad.” (The recent remake of Fahrenheit 451 took this idea of hypersensitivity to its (ill)logical conclusion, resulting in a future society not only devoid of books from Bradbury’s original but included all forms of cultural expression. You can bet comedy would be burnt to a crisp.)

    Humor, I strongly believe, is also essential for an individual dealing with the human condition It is more than a Freudian “defense mechanism;” it is a survival skill. Don’t just take it from me– ask a Jewish person or a Black person or an Irishman. There is a line in one of Wanda Coleman’s poems which touches this idea: “laughing as though laughter wards of death. “

    Finally we’re not saturated with comedy. There’s nothing that couldn’t use more laughs (Especially this piece by yours fooly.) To paraphrase Alfred E. Smith’s quote about democracy, the only way to fix the flaws in comedy is with more comedy. Civilization will always need a smart aleck kid to stand on the curb and point at the naked emperor.

    So lighten up, Ken.



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Dictator

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Fuehrer%27s_Face

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/are-we...re-with-comedy

  2. #2
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Thanks for reading The Daily Beast, Aunt Shecky, so we don't have to.

    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    (if you ignore the slapstick scene of Jacob wrestling with the angel, the sit-com like escapades of Noah’s drunkenness, and the rom-com scenario of late-in-life pregnancy with Sarah, and in the New Testament, Elizabeth.)
    Not to mention the binding of Isaac. God invents the practical joke.

    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    And what’s funnier than sex?
    Yes, I picture God with engineering drawings of the prototype for the first male and female spread out over a long table. And Michael and Gabriel and (the not yet fallen) Satan are all there, cracking up. And God is trying to keep a straight face and saying: "And let's make them attracted to each other's butts..."

    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    Humor, I strongly believe, is also essential for an individual dealing with the human condition It is more than a Freudian “defense mechanism;” it is a survival skill.
    I agree. I see healthy laughter as an acknowledgement of some painful or embarrassing or anxious human truth. That is why the one who won't laugh is so odious to others. Laughing together is a kind of fellowship. And of course there's no saturation point. Drink deeply. Then laugh again.

    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    To paraphrase Alfred E. Smith’s quote about democracy, the only way to fix the flaws in comedy is with more comedy. Civilization will always need a smart aleck kid to stand on the curb and point at the naked emperor.
    And in the words of Alfred E. Newman: What me worry?
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-31-2018 at 06:25 AM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  3. #3
    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    Right on, Auntie!!
    Another delightful, insightful read.
    Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty
    ~Albert Einstein

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    I think it was Emerson who said God's foremost feature is his readiness to laugh.

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    Don’t just take it from me– ask a Jewish person or a Black person or an Irishman.
    Or a NY Mets fan!

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