Wednesday, 31 October 2012


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I enjoy a joke as much as the next man — in fact, I enjoy a joke more than the next man at those times when I am standing beside Clive Hamilton — and I don’t think my sense of humour is in question.

I am a person who appreciates a witty quip or an earthy slice-of-life observation and I have often been known to laugh uproariously at The Plank and its equally hilarious remake, The Plank. My comedic credentials cannot be called into question, I think anyone who isn’t a total bastard would agree. So I am speaking here from a position of authority when I say we must all stop making jokes of any kind immediately.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Well I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking, but I know it’s something shrill and irrational, so please shut up.

We all love a joke, do we not? Having a laugh brightens our day. Humour can often be a powerful tool for holding back the darkness that constantly threatens to engulf us all, and there is no doubt that when we’re laughing at a funny joke, it means that we are not crying at the irretrievable tragedy of our own lives.

So yes, jokes serve a useful purpose in making our society something slightly more than a relentless parade of misery and pain, in which emotional suffering is only relieved by periods of physical suffering and the terror of existence is only relieved by God’s most generous gift to His people: death.

But is it worth it? Is the good work that jokes do enough to justify the trouble and sadness they spread? We may have to recognise that the dark side of the joke is just too dark to be outshone by the light. It may be that jokes are the Salvation Army of human interaction: sure, they do a lot of good work in the community, but they’re also annoying as hell and keep playing tubas. But whereas Salvos play tubas of brass, jokes play tubas of offensiveness, of racism and misogyny and bad manners — and these are tubas that demean us as a species every time they are blown.

Think about the times that jokes make the news: it is never in a positive context. You never see the headline “Joke saves kidnapped schoolchildren” or “Cancer cured by joke” or “Joke releases new fashion line for Real Women”. It’s always “Joke shocks war hero” or “Disabled children cry at joke” or “Joke murders nuns”.

Look at The Chaser. Remember when they did the sketch about how funny it would be if we went into the children’s ward at the hospital and stamped on the sick kids’ faces? I think the sketch was called “Your Children Can Blow Me, Bitch”. Wasn’t that disgusting? Don’t you think it was revolting that they actually think childhood illness is funny? Isn’t it even more terrible that when they were doing research for that sketch they infected a bunch of homeless children with fatal diseases and then watched them die, all the while giggling and eating chicken? It is no wonder that everyone was so outraged. And all that for the sake of “jokes”. Just so they could make a few maladjusted perverts giggle into their slimy sleeves, those so-called satirists murdered dozens of children and burnt down the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Look I have to tell you it doesn’t seem worth it to me.

You see it all the time. At the recent CFMEU dinner, a purported “comedian” told a series of jokes of such foul offensiveness that even Craig Emerson, a man so devoid of taste that he deliberately sings nonsensical parodies of Skyhooks songs on serious news programmes, walked out in disgust and was reported to have been seen standing behind the building vomiting on the bike rack.

We know very little about the content of these jokes, but we do know that they were about Tony Abbott and made reference to a slide whistle, an ergonomic office chair, and a full-grown zebu bull. Should Tony Abbott really have to put up with that? Oh yes a few unionists got a chuckle, and Wayne Swan no doubt got a quiet self-satisfaction that his evil plan was all coming together, but the fact is a good, decent man’s life was ruined — since that joke was told, Margie Abbott reports that Tony is too frightened to open the front door, and bursts into tears every time he sees Lord and Lady Grantham in bed together — just so some petty comedy could be inflicted on the world. And I hardly need remind you of the fallout every time Alan Jones tries his experimental, Kaufmanesque edgy comedy on us. Sure, it plays well to the hip avant-gardists in his audience, but the rest of us just end up baffled.

And that’s how I feel, whenever I see someone put their desire to tell a “joke” ahead of everyone else’s desire for them to shut their faces. It’s all very well to cry “freedom of speech”, but what about freedom of ears? What good is it if my mouth is free, but your ears are in a prison of comedy from which there is no escape?

The facts are in. The evidence is irrefutable. Jokes offend people. They upset people. They make people uncomfortable and Charlie Sheen gets paid to say them. They cause devastation and depression every time they are belched into existence. Independent research by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu estimates that over 75 percent of global conflict would end if jokes were stopped. In fact, on sixteen separate occasions in the last ten years, a workable two-state solution between Israel and Palestine has been on the brink of being finalised, when someone has made a pun about the Gaza strip and leaders have stormed out in anger. Are you happy now, Louis CK?

So let’s just stop, shall we? As Michael Douglas said in The American President, “America has serious problems”, and he would have come up with that line a lot quicker if he’d not spent the last two hours cracking jokes. It’s time to be serious, sober, and fairly dull. It’s the only way we can live in harmony with each other anymore.

The age of the joke is over. Let the age of the lip-pursing humourless bore begin. It will be paradise.

Read 2054 times Last modified on Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Ben  Pobjie

Ben has not one but TWO hilarious books out now. Surveying the Wreckage and Superchef.

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