“When humor goes, there goes civilization.” – Erma Bombeck
On his deathbed, comedic actor Jack Lemmon popularized the saying, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” He would have no idea how hard comedy would become in the 2021 Orwellian world of PC police, left-wing social media and millennials who have been taught to be perpetually offended.
The power of humor to keep politicians and government in check is immense. About the first thing the Taliban did when they took over Kabul was to seek out and murder a comic who had held the mirror of reality and ridicule up to their faces. It is likely that the Biden administration and the goons at Facebook and Twitter took note.
The left has always dominated humor, but its “jokes” have devolved to be condescending, self-righteous and not funny. Victims of their own PC standards, leftists are no longer edgy, thoughtful or creative. In the age of Trump, their jokes were mean and simply not funny.
Back in the Rat Pack days, comedians could say more. Once arrested for carrying a gun, Dean Martin was asked a leading PC question by a reporter: “Do you think people should have guns?” Martin said, “Well, in a perfect world no — just me.” Do you hear any celeb saying anything thoughtfully funny today? Unfettered humor makes you both laugh and think about an issue. We can’t lose that.
Even politicians in the ‘60s had a sense of humor. John F. Kennedy famously made fun of himself with these lines after his election, pretending to read a telegram at the Al Smith dinner: “Dear Jack: Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide. Love, Dad.” Nowadays, I cannot even joke about election fraud without the joke being cut by some outlets.
John Kennedy deflected criticism that his 35-year-old brother, Robert, was not qualified to be Attorney General of the United States. “I don’t see anything wrong with giving Bobby a little legal experience before he goes out on his own to practice law.” Once you make fun of something, it defuses others doing it to you.
For the few of us who write political satire from the libertarian, right-of-center side, our jokes are called “mean” if the left disagrees. We are called “racist” if we joke about Obama, the NFL or crime stats, and “sexist” if we do not totally agree with AOC. It is their way of silencing opposition. And since so many are intimidated by them, few will stand firm. It is the way totalitarian leaders do it: they silence dissent. This path down which the left wants to take us is a slippery slope to totalitarianism.
Pointing out irony where there is truth makes for humor. Unlike slapstick pratfall comedy, political humor makes you think and laugh and is a powerful medium feared by the elites.
Mel Brooks joined the recent chorus of comedians who say that the PC culture has gone too far in stifling comedy. He says his classic movie “Blazing Saddles” would not be made today, and he blames the “stupidly politically correct.” Other comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, Larry the Cable Guy, Dennis Miller, John Cleese and Chris Rock agree. Many say they will not play college gigs anymore because of the rigid PC pushback.
There are no edgy comics on the left. They are all conformists, slaves to the PC world they have helped to create.
Contrary to the left’s narrative, I find the right to be far more tolerant of humor. Ninety percent of my emails are from offended lefties. Twelve years ago, the only major pushback from the right was displeasure at the title of my column about the hypocrisy of several televangelists like Revs. Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, who were literally caught with their pants down. Its title was “Ministers Should do More Than Lay People.” More religious-right-type newspapers refused to run it. Think before you get offended, America! There is much at stake here.
This column doesn’t have the humor most of mine do, so a joke to close: Mega-hottie actress Megan Fox was photographed last week by paparazzi in L.A. at a high-end grocery store showing side boob. Which was also Biden’s secret service name in the Obama White House.
Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op/ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator, can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com, or visit www.RonaldHart.com.