Long ago, in a universe far away, Hilary Clinton appeared on a talk show and was asked about Donald Trump’s race for president in the GOP primary. Clinton burst out laughing.
I imagine that the scolds scolded her even at the time. Alas, the only times Clinton was likeable were the times that her advisors told her mistake! Ixnay on the laughnay. And her cult said, unfortunately, you aren’t allowed, cause-a sexism – terrible advice all the way around that made her into a stiff personality who seemed, even in her spontaneous moments, to be taking the advice of her spontaneous coach (oh God, please, let this not be true!).
But the point here is not to knock Clinton, but to praise her. For even today, even when we know what a disaster the short-fingered vulgarian is, even as we watch him go from racism to sexism to tax cuts like a mad triple, even now – he is genuinely funny. This is a man who tweets about the TPP and I think, Butthead-style, dude, he said PP!
Because that is who he is.
Those who think comedy is some light dessert don’t understand how something on this scale of cruelty could possibly be funny. I mean, the Guardian is reporting that in twenty years, the top 1 percent worldwide will own 2/3 of our planet. The North Pole is now warmer than Albany, New York in the winter. There is war everywhere, and we live in a society where grave white men debate other grave white men about how dumb, genetically, blacks are – and the grave white men who maintain this, like Steven Pinker and Sam Harris, like to pretend that they are just being scientific.
So basically, what I’m saying is, we are fucked, and as the Good Ship Lollypop sinks, we are going to be harried by the dumbest people and their dumb fans so that even our dying bow will be laced with caricature and slapstick.
Yet, and yet – in all this darkness, I descry a silver lining. For isn’t this, friends, the golden age of the smart ass?
Smart assery has been my curse, my muse, my daimon, since I was a pup. I can’t help myself. Or no… lately, say for the past decade, I have toned down the sarcasm. Or sourcasm, as my brothers call it. But deep in my interior cathedral, the gothic lookin doctor and his monster are both rolling around on the lab floor every time another atrocity comes through the internets.
The reason for this is… romanticism! Modernism! Etc!
Ever since De Quincey showed how funny murder is, considered as one of the fine arts – ever since Poe – ever since Jarry’s Ubu Roi – the avant garde has known that the distance between tragedy and farce has lessened, or even collapsed. Marx thought the first time around was tragedy, the second time around was farce; Nietzsche thought that the first time around and the second and the third time and the nth time are identical; and Jacqueline Susan thought that once was not enough. Mix all of that up, and you get today’s wiseassery.
So I cry and I laugh about the state of the world, from Trump to Macron, but mostly I try to think of some appropriate jokes. Although every day, the newspaper comes up with jokes I could only dream of.