They say that comedy is tragedy plus time. But how do we keep a sense of humor in an era of tragedy plus tragedy plus tragedy?
I have to be honest. There has never been a time where I felt more under threat of entirely losing my sense of humor than I do now.
They say that comedy is tragedy plus time. But how do we find it in an era of tragedy plus tragedy plus tragedy? I ask you, dear reader, because I am faltering. A state of perpetual war, environmental catastrophe, a worldwide pandemic, political and cultural authoritarianism? How long can we normalize the abnormal, before we all crack up? Or have we been living in a state of insanity for so long, that we can no longer recognize what is sane?
Perhaps Donald Trump is only a prophet of doom. An instrument of our own denial and making? Unearthing all the ugly truth which lay just beneath the surface, like a cobra, waiting to be poisonously animated? And did we not ourselves raise him to the stature of god; the media, the talk show hosts, TV, Hollywood, gangster rap? Did popular culture not embrace him on the disgusting, empty merits, of wealth and celebrity? Turning its head and chuckling at every horrible, bigoted thing, that came out of his ugly, puckered, mouth? And did he not rise to power in an age so gluttonous for entertainment and capital, that it forsook its own Democracy? The age of individual empire?
Was not Trump simply the final, filthy, death-rattling orgasm, of ages of heathenistic greed, reaching its breaking-point, and plummeting mercilessly to crash at the feet of the forefathers, who imagined a freedom, a liberty for the soul, which left too many exclusionary loopholes for the right tyrant to step through?
And did not the Democratic Establishment, who has been ignoring the working-classes for years, shoot itself in the foot, by refusing to give up the corpse to the revitalizing Bernie Sanders, the only man who could have beat Trump? Leaving a vacuum for Trump to enter as a savior to a misguided faction of white workers, who through sleight of hand, Trump was able to turn from placing the blame on corporate greed, to that old, sleeping giant of racial hatred and xenophobia? And did not Bannon seize upon this in the most opportune time, whispering sweet nothings of white power, like a demonic puppet-master, into Trump’s ear, which in turn infected the entire Republican party to seize through coup-like tactics all those things they wanted all along?
And did not January 6th, only elucidate the disturbing reality that the Constitution is not impenetrable?… Laugh? Make fun? If I do, it’s only to salvage what’s left of my sanity. And because comedy itself is under threat, one of the first sacrifices of an authoritarian dictatorship. Make no mistake, that is what we were living under, under Trump, and its vestiges remain, threatening a free election in 2024, in a regression to pre-civil rights black voter suppression.
It’s not that all of this hasn’t happened before, only in countries we never bothered to concern ourselves with. Countries our own military has aided in staging coups to replace freely elected presidents with dictators who would do business with us at the cost of their own people’s economic security. But now it has come full-circle, and is happening in our own backyard, revealing The Patriot Act to be useless in the event of home-grown terrorism. All that information gathered, our blasé attitude toward total loss of personal privacy, come to nothing. Intelligence agencies so busy with monitoring the outside threat that they were blinded to the inside one.
The genie is so far out of the bottle, that it is peering over the precipice of our existence as a people. But all empires implode eventually, don’t they? As there was an end to Rome, mustn’t it follow, an end to America? What we sow, we reap in the end. Either there will be a dramatic, progressive change, or a continued regression toward tyranny. I cannot absolutely predict, only hope that it is the former.
As for my sense of humor, I continue to revolt against its suppression, as I revolt against all forms of suppression. But I fear for its survival.