Wednesday, May 13, 2009



Kathleen Parker basically hits the nail on the head on the pseudo-controversy involving comic Wanda Sykes at the White House Correspondents Dinner last weekend:

There's nothing un-funnier than Saturday night's jokes reviewed by the caffeinated light of Monday morning.

Which is why we probably shouldn't quarterback a comedian over coffee when she was performing for a crowd primed on cocktails.


Parker is also pretty spot on in explaining why Sykes' stuff on Rush Limbaugh wasn't funny (whereas the president's -- "Sorry, RNC, Rush Limbaugh does not qualify as a troubled asset." -- was).

Sykes' Limbaugh joke was not funny for the reason she cites -- plus the fact that it was too complicated. For a political joke you want a sentence or two of set-up and then -- BAM! -- a punch line. Trying to thread together "hoping Obama fails" to "country failing" to "treason" to "20th hijacker" is just too complicated -- even in a room of political junkies.

I do disagree with Parker in one respect -- that "No one's drug addiction is amusing." Au contraire! One's own addiction isn't funny -- someone else's is. Well, at least a few degrees of separation away. Addiction of a close family member absolutely sucks. But, sorry, addiction problems of the wealthy or otherwise high-and-mighty can be a source of much humor.

Keith Richards' blood transfusions. Any member of the Kennedys. Britney Spears. It's not nice, but it is part of the human condition: We are wired to experience schaedenfreude of the misfortunes of those who are materially or status-wise "better" than us -- yet who nonetheless fall prey to various temptations.

Mocking celebrity addiction is a humor stock-in-trade going back to Aristophanes when royalty were the only "celebrities" to make fun of.

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