I love comedy. I always have. When I was a kid and got a transistor radio, I didn’t care much for all the songs about love and romance. I loved the novelty songs. The silly songs. I grew up worshiping Alan Sherman. I still can recite the lyrics to most of his songs by heart. He was a genius at parodying old standard songs. His song “Glory, Glory Harry Lewis” is a parody of “Glory, Glory Hallelujah. The hero is Harry Lewis, a clothing worker who worked for Irving Roth. The best line in the song?
“Harry Lewis perished in the service of his lord. He was trampling through the warehouse, where the Drapes of Roth are stored.”
Genius. Today, his mantle as been taken up by Weird Al Yankovic.
I have always prided myself on my comedic range. By that, I mean I think pretty much all types of humor are funny. I love intellectual humor. For instance, Oscar Wilde: On God: “I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.”
Or Dorothy Parker: Use the word “horticulture” in a sentence. “You can lead a horticulture, but you can not make her think.”
I love the comedy of the Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, Carl Reiner and my comedy God, Mel Brooks.
I love science jokes. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.”
I love fifth grade humor: “What is a shark’s favorite game show? Swallow the leader.”
I love lawyer jokes: “Why don’t sharks eat lawyers? Professional courtesy.”
I love elephant jokes: “What game do four elephants in a mini-van play? Squash.”
I love “dumb” jokes. These are jokes that at one time were ethnic jokes. They were German jokes, Irish jokes, Italian jokes, Polish jokes, North Dakota jokes, South Dakota jokes and blonde jokes. “Why did the blonde stare at the orange juice box? Because it said ‘Concentrate.’”
Which brings me to another type of humor I love. Tasteless humor. I have no problem with tasteless humor, as long as it’s funny.
“What’s the difference between an art student and a pizza? A pizza can feed a family of four.” That was the tamest one I could find. Unless you’re an art student, most people would find it funny. Let’s get real. Most art students would laugh the hardest.
I love roasts. Roasts are where you are supposed to be brutally funny and tasteless. You insult your guest as hard as you can. When all the quests are done insulting the subject of the roast, the subject of the roast gets to do a ‘rebuttal’ and insult all the guests right back. It’s fun. Roasts began at the Friars Club in New York City.
Now they are done on Comedy Central. Another example of a roast is The White House Correspondent’s Dinner. It’s supposed to be a roast of the President and the press. Next, the President gets to roast everybody back. Steven Colbert made history when he roasted George W. Bush. It was an amazing example of speaking truth to power.
Here’s my favorite line from the roast. “Critics of the President Bush say his administration is sinking. They’re just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I say no. His administration isn’t sinking. It’s soaring! They’re re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!”
Our previous so-called President refused to show up to this dinner because he couldn’t stand being made fun of. There’s a popular theory that the only reason Colt-45 ran for President was because President Obama took him down in the 2012 Correspondents dinner. “People say Trump is running as a Republican. I thought he was running as a joke.”
Actually, Seth Meyers said that, but you get the point. A “burn,” or a “roast” is done out of affection. You “bust balls” on your friends because you like them. You do “Your Mama jokes.”
“Your Mama’s so stupid she puts lipstick on her forehead to make up her mind.”
My family was famous for “busting balls”. If we goofed on you, it was because we liked you. If we didn’t like you, we were very polite around you and said nothing. We would never dream of saying anything that was actually hurtful. Because, well, that would be hurtful.
Oddly, most people can dish it out, but many of those same people can’t take it, the previous president being a perfect example.
I am one of those people who can take a joke. Because of this I get goofed on a lot. I don’t mind. If the joke on me is good, I appreciate it. Sadly, most of the time I don’t get to fire back. I’d hurt people’s feelings. My stepson is a great example. He’s a great joke teller. He knows them all. All the good ones, the bad ones and the ones that makes his Mom leave the room. He also loves busting my chops. All of his burns are funny and on point. I always laugh. But if I wanted to get him back, all I’d have to do is say “Yeah, but I screw your Mom.” I can’t do that because he’d go into a catatonic state.
Everybody has a line where something isn’t funny anymore. I remember going to see Mel Brooks’ “The History of The World Part One” when it first came out. It was hysterical. There is a scene where he turns the Spanish Inquisition into an Esther Williams musical number. It was tasteless — and funny as hell.
The whole audience was laughing their asses off. Then the next skit came on. Mel Brooks was a waiter at the Last Supper. Also hysterical. Jesus would say “Before this night is over, one of you will betray me.” And Brooks immediately says “Judas!” Everybody stops and stares at him in stunned silence. Then he says “Would you like a salad?
That was when I noticed I was the only one in the audience laughing. I thought “Wow, torturing Jews was hilarious, but making fun of the Last Supper, not so much.”
Everybody has a line that once crossed, isn’t funny. So, I wondered, where is my line? Do I have one?
It turns out I do. Racism. Right wing “humor.” It offends me. Why? Because it’s mean, racist and it’s NOT FUNNY. It’s merely racist and mean. At this point you can say “Hey, YOU, don’t think it’s funny. That doesn’t mean it’s not funny.”
OK, fair enough. But let’s look at this ‘Joke’ tweeted by Rosanne Barr.
VJ refers to Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to the Obama Administration who is not white and was born in Iran. Both of her parents are Americans. Roseanne “apologized” for her “joke.” Was that a joke? Hell no. Just racist and mean.
Think about this. How many right-wing comics are there? Name one. I dare you because I can’t.
A joke can be tasteless, sophomoric, silly, stupid, and dumb, yet still funny. On the other hand, saying something mean and racist, then defending yourself by saying “It was just a joke” is not funny. That was Rosanne Barr’s defense. That’s the excuse our Racist-in-Chief and his staff used every time he made a racist statement or tweet.
Finally, why aren’t there any right-wing comedians? Bottom line? The right-wing doesn’t have a sense of humor.
I hate ending on a down note so, I’ll leave you with some 16th century humor: “Henry the Eighth was so fat when he sat around the castle, he sat AROUND the castle.”