Monday, May 01, 2006

Where Have All the Comics Gone?

“I am appalled at the latest [insert outrage] out of the Bush Administration!”

Actually, I’m not. It has gotten so bad that my Outrage-ifier broke. The most I can muster now is brief rants followed by long periods of apathy and brownie consumption. I really should buy stock in dairy conglomerates and Hershey.

I mean, really. Mark Russell has taken the red white and blue bunting off his grand piano. He now probably spends his time playing the accordion naked in the French Riviera in midwinter. Political comedy has finally been downsized by Washington.

It’s impossible to satirize what’s going on. You may have wondered why I’d gotten all insipid and introspective. Frankly, contemplating my belly button is far preferable to contemplating the state of politics, today. (Well, it was until now.)

When George Clooney makes more consistent, reasonable, and useful statements than the fracking Vice President, I despair of ever finding another H.L. Mencken. Hell, another Winston Churchill would be nice.

I think we’re too self-righteous a nation, now, for Jonathan Swift’s Irish infantile culinary suggestions. I have yet to see an actual example of an “I escaped from the World Trade Center and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” t-shirt. That’s too “edgy” now. We’re barely dealing with “What Would Jesus Drive?” (And what color wristbands would he wear, of course. Curse you, Lance Armstrong for starting the latest wave of tacky, petroleum product fashion accessory to sweep the globe.)

We can’t live in the middle ground where watching someone’s pain can be funny, because it’s your pain, too. No, we don’t acknowledge that other people have needs anymore. Anything someone else wants that isn’t what I want, is persecution! Of me, naturally. Affirmative action is persecution of whites, education is slanted against boys, and atheists persecute Christians by simply existing, as far as I have been able to tell.

It’s really too bad the phrase “Me Generation” has already been used. I’d vote for the “Solipsistically Me and Only Me (and possibly my dog) Generation” but it’s too long. “Everyone But Me Should Die in a Fire” captures the proper angst, but again, too lengthy.

See how hard it is to do quality comedy with this material? It’s like trying to make nitroglycerin out of crude oil and wet beach sand.

I think the political system in this country is systematically shortchanging its citizens of quality comedians, by appropriating and mishandling the delicate work of satire, sarcasm, and gallows humor.

Okay, now I’m finally appalled. It feels unfamiliar, but good. I think I shall toddle off to explore some other long-unfelt emotions such as schadenfreude, weltschmertz, and Guinness-lieben.



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