And it’s beautiful:
So, a bunch of people have their boxers in a bunch about this sketch from the BBC comedy show Revolting:
A lot of people are jumping up and down claiming this is either offensive to Muslims or trivializes the rape and oppression that the real “wives” of ISIS are enduring. Now, I have a high offense threshold and have a taste for provocative humor, so take that into account. But I actually don’t see what the big deal is. The skit is kind of funny and, to me, seems to me a much more vicious satire of reality TV than of ISIS. And, to judge by the online commentary, a lot of Muslims are fine with it since they hate ISIS as much as anyone.
As for trivializing the rape of ISIS wives … look, one of the best things to do to evil men is mock them. It drives them absolutely crazy when you makes jokes about what they consider to me the most important thing in the world. That’s why they were so furious at Charlie Hebdo because the one thing a fanatic can’t stand is not being taken seriously. Mel Brooks, a Jewish veteran of WW2, has devoted decades to mocking Hitler at every turn.
So, please … more of this. More mockery, more jokes, more caricatures.
For some reason, this morning’s hoo-hah over Gary Johnson reminded me of a Polish joke from the Cold War. I will adopt it to the present circumstance:
Hillary Clinton is on a game show where you have to answer four questions to win a cash prize. She sits down with the host.
Host: So, Mrs. Clinton, are you ready for you first question?
Clinton: I’ve been ready since 1991, when I …
Host: OK, so … for your first question … what is Iraq?
Clinton: Iraq is a country that I voted to invade in 2003.
Host: That is correct! Now, for your second question … what is Libya?
Clinton: Libya is a country I decided to bomb in 2011.
Host: That is correct! Now, for your third question … what is Syria?
Clinton: Syria is a country I supported bombing in 2014.
Host: That is correct! Now, for your last question … and all the money … what is Aleppo?
Clinton squirms for a while, fiddles with her blackberry, stares off into space, bites her lip. She concentrates very hard. Finally, she clears her throat.
Clinton: Well, I’m not completely sure, but I’ll take a shot at it.
Host: THAT IS CORRECT!
Because we need some comic relief, here’s PJ with a guide to Punditspeak, translating terms you’ll hear in the punditsphere into English. Viz:
highly placed source—anyone dumb enough to answer my emails or phone calls.
highly placed source speaking on condition of anonymity because—because they’re dumb but not suicidal.
on background—the highly placed source is pulling this out of his ass.
on deep background—the highly placed source is pulling this out of somebody else’s ass.
studies show—I’m pulling this out of my own ass.
The whole thing is pretty funny.
I’m a big Monty Python fan and an astrophysicist. But you don’t have to be either to love this:
So this week, Comedy Central announced their replacement for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show: South African comedian Trevor Noah. Noah, known for a somewhat edgy standup routine and a couple of correspondent reports on The Daily Show was immediately praised a great choice.
A few hours after Comedy Central announced that the South African comic would replace Jon Stewart, Salon’s TV critic predicted a surge of “right-wing rage” because “conservative critics have a practiced, doublespeaking method of piling on the heat on figures who stand out because of their race or gender or sexuality,” and obviously their guns would turn on Noah.
Not 24 hours later, Salon published a piece about how Noah’s old tweets—not conservatives—might “kill The Daily Show.” As Sonny Bunch helpfully recounts, the Internet discovered that Noah, who’d grown phenomenally popular in the rest of the Anglosphere, had a bit of a clunker problem.
You can click through to read the offending humor, which consists of tweets that include some Jewish jokes and some fat-girl jokes.
This has all led to some whipsawing in progressive media, from a Trevor Noah welcome wagon to a caravan of pitchfork-wielding villagers. On Monday, Vox’s Max Fisher introduced Noah to readers with “seven of his funniest clips,” and predicted that the host would make his show “a fresh and perhaps invaluable contribution to how we talk—and joke—about race and nationality.” He proved it, with a dive into Noah’s popular videos, pulling out solid routines about how bad Africans looked in famine relief ads and how mixed-race people get “upgraded to black” when they’re famous.
Yet within a day, there was dissent within Vox; writer Kelsey McKinney was explaining why Noah might be unfit to lead TDS. “A Daily Show host should be held to a higher standard than other comedians,” she wrote in regard to the tweets. “These jokes are offensive because they are reflections of cultures that are oppressive and privileged—and rather than being critical of those societal constructions, the jokes instead reinforce them.”
It’s Patricia Arquette all over again. It was fine for Noah to make black jokes, white jokes or anti-American jokes. But he can’t make fun of fat women because he’s above them in the N-dimensional matrix of the perpetually offended. (Weigel reminds us of the Suey Park-Colbert incident, where a bunch of hashtagivists insisted that Colbert’s satire of racism was, in itself, racist).
So what do I think? Chris Rock, a few months ago, gave an interesting interview where he talked about our culture of perpetual offense as it applies to comedians:
It is scary, because the thing about comedians is that you’re the only ones who practice in front of a crowd. Prince doesn’t run a demo on the radio. But in stand-up, the demo gets out. There are a few guys good enough to write a perfect act and get onstage, but everybody else workshops it and workshops it, and it can get real messy. It can get downright offensive. Before everyone had a recording device and was wired like fucking Sammy the Bull, you’d say something that went too far, and you’d go, “Oh, I went too far,” and you would just brush it off. But if you think you don’t have room to make mistakes, it’s going to lead to safer, gooier stand-up. You can’t think the thoughts you want to think if you think you’re being watched.
Exactly. Comedians who live on the edge of offense, as Rock sometimes does, have to work their material to go up to but not over the line. And the only way to know you’ve gone over the line is when people get offended and stop laughing. Think about Rock’s routine on black people vs. the n-word and how much work he must have done to make sure it was funny without being offensive. That’s something that can only come from experience, from trial and error.
For comedians (and really, for everyone), Twitter is a test audience of 284 million. We’ve seen a lot comedians — Patton Oswalt and Louis CK, for example — tweet jokes that went over the line (sometimes way over it). Hell, we’ve seen random people like Justine Sacco have their lives turned upside down because a dumb joke went viral.
I didn’t like Noah’s tweets (which are, granted, a small selection from over 8000 tweets). But I did find his stand-up material good. Not George-Carlin-in-his-prime good, but reasonable. I do think his tweets went over the line and the Jewish jokes did bother me. But I’m willing to give Noah a chance at The Daily Show. If he starts making offensive jokes, I’ll turn it off. But as someone who has occasionally tweeted stupid things, I’m not willing to line up the firing squad just yet.
I’ve noticed more and more of these “we’re worried about Obama’s abuse of executive power” pieces showing up recently. Methinks it it occurring to people that Obama will not be President forever.
I’m on vacation this week in Disneyworld with the wife and Sal 11000 Beta. It’s a quiet week in politics anyway, with the most interesting commentary revolving around the NSA’s pathetic lies and the pathetic pundits who believe those lies. Check out this evisceration of Jeffrey’s Toobin hacktastic work in which compares Snowden’s leaks to the MLK assassination (seriously).
You can also check out ZDnet’s hilarious “data driven analysis” which tries to convince us that NSA is no big deal. Taking it apart is pretty trivial:
Anyway, that’s the NSA rant that has been building in my mind whilst taking advantage of the free wireless Disney provides in long lines to get princess signatures.
I did think you’d get a kick of this, however, which I photographed on a vending machine today:
As far as I could tell, the point of that notice is to be a notice. But Ken at Popehat tweeted me that he blogged about this over a year ago. The best explanation in the comments, which sounds right to me, was this:
My brother and his wife own a large vending machine company. The stickers are not proof of taxes paid, or anything like that. You can buy them from private vendors. The reason for the stickers was that they used to have information on them as to who owned or operated the machine. The problem is that they had the FEIN of the business on it, and this was frequently used to fraudulently steal the identity of the operator.
To fix this, the vending companies were lobbying to have the law changed so that the decals were no longer required. This effort was unsuccessful, but in 2010 the vending lobbyist was able to accomplish the next best thing: They had the requirements of the sticker changed so that it no longer has to contain information that can be used by identity thieves. That is how it happened.
Even if that’s right, it’s still pretty stupid.
Have a fun week, guys.
Dave Barry has his Year in Review post up again and it’s definitely worth your time. One of my favorite quips:
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, having dealt with all of the city’s other concerns — disaster preparation, for example — turns his attention to the lone remaining problem facing New Yorkers: soft drinks. For far too long, these uncontrolled beverages have roamed the city in vicious large-container packs, forcing innocent people to drink them and become obese. Bloomberg’s plan would prohibit the sale of soft drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces, thereby making it impossible to consume larger quantities, unless, of course, somebody bought two containers, but the mayor is confident that nobody except him would ever be smart enough to think of that.
the Democrats gather in Charlotte, N.C. for their convention, during which they declare their near-carnal passion for the Middle Class and celebrate the many major achievements of the Obama administration, including the killing of Osama bin Laden, solar energy, the winning of the War on Terror by killing Osama bin Laden, the Chevy Volt, bold presidential leadership in the form of making the difficult decision to order the killing of Osama bin Laden, wind power and many, many other major things that the administration has achieved, such as killing Osama bin Laden. The Democrats acknowledge that the economy is not totally 100 percent “there” yet but promise to continue moving steadfastly forward with their relentless attacks on the root cause of economic stagnation and continued high unemployment, namely, George W. Bush.
Read the whole thing. We need some humor right about now.