Caring for the comically challenged is no laughing matter
We can be pretty certain that anything we learned from the lyrics of any song by Men Without Hats is wrong. As a result, I remain dubious of the claim in “Real World” that “Hey, the world is a funny place, heeeey, OH O WOW!”
Keep in mind that this is the band that also told us:
“And every time I wonder where the world went wrong,
End up lying on my face going ringy-dingy-ding-dong.”
So, the funny-place theory should definitely be approached with skepticism. Nevertheless, there is considerable evidence that the cosmos is rife with comedy. For instance: North Korean president Kim Jong-Un’s haircut. The weird people in Oxford Casino TV spots. Bandicoots. The Portland City Council. Any science fiction movie made before “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Attempts at explanations for incompetence by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
But let’s be fair. In spite of all these opportunities to laugh out loud, the world is filled with those seemingly incapable of appreciating a good punchline. For instance: the guy under Kim Jong-Un’s haircut, customs inspectors, vegans, Russell Crowe, editors, traffic cops, bicyclists, people who want to tell you about their medical problems, the Internal Revenue Service, Bruce Poliquin and did I mention editors? I did? Well, I’m sure one of them will remove the double reference – along with most of my other funny lines.
Clearly what this humor-challenged world needs is a facility designed to care for those suffering from STD.
Which, I hasten to point out to any editors concerned about possibly offensive material, does not stand for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. It’s short for Serio-Tragic Disorder, a malady that drains human beings of their ability to chuckle, chortle and guffaw.
What’s even worse about STD is that its sufferers are incapable of acknowledging their problem. As Frank Muir, the editor of “The Oxford Book of Humor,” has noted, “Nowadays most people can tolerate being called a sex maniac or a drunkard – there is an oblique compliment to virility lurking beneath the words – but nobody will happily admit that they have no sense of humor.”
The humorless population insists there’s nothing wrong with whatever gland it is that controls their comprehension of wit. Instead they claim the material causing the rest of the population to roll in the proverbial aisles is simply and indisputably NOT FUNNY!
Mark Twain? They find his 19th-century approach dated.
Will Rogers? Cowboy claptrap.
Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp? Too cliche?d for sophisticates such as themselves.
P.G. Woodhouse? Surely such frivolous material can’t be considered literature.
Dorothy Parker? Mildly salacious. Nothing more.
Johnny Carson. No funny stuff happened after their bedtime.
“South Park”? Vulgar.
Woody Allen’s later films? Well, nobody’s wrong about everything.
Clearly, any program aiming to help sufferers of STD faces serious (oops, sorry) obstacles. These non-hilarity-prone specimens aren’t going to have their grim world views altered by a Preston Sturges film festival (weak attempts at satire with a left-wing slant), a production of William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” (sexist claptrap and incomprehensible insults) or a lecture by P.J. O’Rourke (conservatives ought to maintain a scowl on their faces at all times and never admit to reading “Rolling Stone,” let alone working for it). It’s time for sterner (oops, sorry again) measures.
Therapy sessions at the Hunter S. Thompson Institute for the Care and Feeding of Those Suffering From Serio-Tragic Disorder and Its Many Co-mingled Maladies will tend toward the hard core. Patients will be forced to watch unedited video of Paul LePage’s news conferences. They’ll be required to read Evelyn Waugh’s “Scoop.” They’ll be ordered to write lengthy essays explaining “Why Stephen Colbert is not to be taken seriously” or “How I learned to tell whether Kinky Friedman is kidding or not.”
Meals will consist entirely of foods that sound funny: Welsh rarebit, Pupu platters, tofu, kumquats, chitterlings, Beer Nuts, Tater Tots, turducken, toad-in-a-hole, whoopie pies and spotted dick (relax, editor, it’s an English pudding with raisins). All beverages will be consumed through Krazy Straws. All beds will be short-sheeted. All pants will be baggy and held up by suspenders. Footwear will be clown shoes. Red rubber noses are optional wear for dinner. Owls are not allowed, but cockatoos are encouraged. No guns, but lots of puns. Oh wait, you can have a gun if all it shoots is a sign that says “BANG.”
In no way do the directors of this facility guarantee that this continuous regimen of slapstick and tomfoolery will cure the humorless. But they do promise that relatives and friends who visit the institute will find the proceedings a lot funnier than those at the average nursing home. Or even the average congressional session.
Also, there’ll be dancing to Men Without Hats.
If you can’t laugh at that, what can you laugh at?
Al Diamon finds almost everything funny, except editors – and even they’re a little bit funny. Diamon writes the weekly column Politics & Other Mistakes that appears in several Maine newspapers and websites. He’s also the media critic for The Bollard magazine. He can be emailed at email@example.com.