22 Nov …BUT I WON”T BE DEFEATED BY FASCINATION
Stop asking me how I’m doing. I’m doing fucking great.
“How’re you going to do comedy with Obama in the White House? How’re you going to make jokes about him? Is the state of comedy going to change? Are you worried, as a comedian? Are you filling your laugh-diapers with fraidy-poo?”
You know the last time someone was worried about the “state” of comedy? 9/11. And comedy did just fine. Comedy warped and evolved and stumbled forward, like it’s always done. Comedy’s come out of Dealy Plaza, Altamont, the Mai Lai Massacre, Kent State and the balcony of a hotel in Memphis. It’s all context and approach and blah blah goddamn blah I’m so sick of explaining this non-topic to people who are bored with their lives and selling wolf tickets so they can hit their TGH without exercising.
Hey, remember how when Bill Clinton got elected, and everyone started getting jobs and the economy improved and everyone was in a great mood? Yeah, remember how comedy died a big, honking death ‘cuz of that?
I don’t remember, either, ‘cuz it didn’t. Saturday Night Live went through its third renaissance, alternative stand-up exploded, South Park and Mr. Show and Chris Rock ascendant. Things were fine, comedy-wise and now they’ll just get better.
“Man, you’re really going to miss Bush. You comedians are going to be hurting.”
Tell you what, worry-warts. I’ll happily give back the 15 minutes of “our president’s a sociopath who can’t speak and believes in angels” material I wrote if we WEREN’T TORTURING PEOPLE ANYMORE. I know everyone thinks Bush was some sort of comedic Everlasting Gobstopper but believe me, history’s going to look at these last eight years and think, “I don’t know if teetering that close to the brink was worth the funny YouTube impressions.”
Obama is president. Barack Obama. We just elected a Jamba Juice supplement to the White House, and I couldn’t feel better. Make everyone happy, you articulate black bastard. I welcome the challenge.
It’s historic we elected a black President. But it’s miraculous we elected the calm, intelligent guy over the guy who was stoking the warm fear we’ve been nuzzled against these last 8 years. That’s what amazed me so much about this last election. Not the race thing – that was inevitable. Just like, someday, we’ll have the female president and then the gay, Muslim, Mormon cross-dresser. And, God willing, Dakota Fanning.
How does it feel to be John McCain? Will he and the elder George Bush (and, come to think of it, Jimmy Carter) ever sit down and hash around what it felt like to be the obsolete model when the new, shiny version rolled up? Fuck it, McCain ought to sit down with the guys from Queensryche, and talk to them about that tour they did in the early 90’s, when Pearl Jam was opening up. Hair metal died during those months, and grunge exploded onto the landscape. How must it have felt, being in Queensryche and, night after night, looking out onto your massive crowds and seeing the Spandex and gelled-up hair slowly replaced with flannel and unruly, Northwest mops?
Is that how it felt for Carter, Bush I and now McCain? To see the Spandex turn to flannel? And isn’t it weird how, in all of this, Bush II plays no part? It’s almost as if he came along, crashed the car, burned down the frat house, and raped a sophomore, but everyone knows his daddy built the football stadium so we’re just waiting for him to graduate with his “Gentleman C” and leave everyone alone.
Go away, W. We’ve accepted the fact that we’re not going to get a satisfying, Nixon-in-the-winter-of-his-humiliation brooding from you. You’re going to amble away and play video golf and drink out of range of the cameras and smirk and watch each of your yesterdays fizzle away, and always feel like you’re winning. We’re fine with it. We just want you away from our nukes, schools, soldiers and money. Run along, now. You’re a big strong cowboy, yep.
I wanted to write this on November 5th but I was too wrung-out and pixilated with glee.
I remember, watching the election returns, actually tensing up when they called Ohio and Virginia. Mathematically, that was the moment McCain could not win. So, I figured, this is where the shenanigans start.
But they didn’t. Maybe it was too big. Maybe they’d wasted all their shenanigans in the months leading up to the actual election. Or maybe…
Wait, wait a second. Before I articulate the “or maybe” part, let me do a quick run down of all the pre-election tactics, and how they failed. Here are the ones that really stuck out for me:
1. Reverend Jeremiah Wright: Sure said some craaaaazy shit up on that pulpit. Oh fuck, it got filmed! Oh shit, the film is on YouTube! Now it’s on FOX. Obama’s staggering!
But then – whoops! Hannity and the rest of the TV Pun-dicks started barking about how, “Obama went to this guy’s church every Sunday for 20 years.”
Yikes! You just lost the evangelicals.
What a lot of Republicans, and especially neocons, can’t seem to grasp is the actual, church-going culture of America. They talk endlessly about Jesus and church and morals but they don’t actually walk the walk. Does W. attend a weekly church? Did Reagan or Bush I? If Karl Rove set foot in a church, his skin would start to smoke, and then slough off and free a swarm of sightless grubs with skull-faces.
They simply use Christians, especially evangelicals, for their voting and organizing power. And then, behind their backs, laugh about what a bunch of gullible, simpleton hayseeds they are.
So when the mass of evangelicals heard that Obama went to Wright’s church every Sunday for 20 years, that sealed the deal. Every Christian’s suffered through a sermon or two that didn’t…quite…sit right. And you argue with your pastor or minister about it, but you show up the next Sunday. I’ve seen some Scorsese, Coen Brothers and David Gordon Green films that weren’t exactly up to snuff, but you can be damn sure I’ll be there opening day for their next one.
2. Bill Ayers: No one’s scared of an old hippie.
3. Obama’s a Muslim! But…but..didn’t you just say he went to a crazy Christian dude’s church for 20 years? Pick one.
Oh, and let’s review the Muslim Plot to Destroy America:
Mohammad H’ward (“Moe”): In order to take over America, we must install a president who will bend to our will, and promote radical Muslim ideas.
K’irleye Abbas (“Curly”): Perhaps a blond, all-American football star or war hero?
Moe: No. Our surest path is a half-black Harvard graduate with a background in community service, whose middle name is Hitler.
Lawrence Buddston, radical American Taliban (“Larry”): We’ve got one, but his middle name is “Hussein”.
Moe: Close enough.
They all start hitting each other with wrenches, fireplace pokers, and a large fish.
Poor Sarah Palin. McCain had to watch the game change before his eyes. Facebook and YouTube and The Daily Show changing the landscape. Spandex into flannel.
But Sarah showed up using the old playbook. It’s as if, at the height of gangster rap and smart hip-hop, a white boy showed up with Vanilla Ice beats, instead of laying it down like Eminem.
And by the way, I don’t think Sarah’s stupid. Like Rush and Coulter and George F. Will, she’s learned to say the things stupid people want to hear, and talk in a way that comforts them. That’s always been a good strategy, whether you’re running for office, or trying to convince a comedy audience you’re just a reg’lar, down-home mope just like them.
But then the economy tanked. Once the money’s on fire, it’s not cute to be stupid.
Now stupid is ugly. It’s still visible, but now it’s ugly and sad. There’s going to be a lot of ugliness during these four years.
So let’s go over what I have to work with these next four years:
A crumbling, chaotic Republican party with an entire cable news channel on which they can have weird outbursts. Nice.
A smug, self-confident Democratic party, now with a filibuster-free Senate, and their innate ability to fuck things up for themselves. Yay!
A handsome, articulate, brilliant President who takes himself a wee bit too seriously. Terrific straight man.
I’m going to be fine. We all are. I still get to be funny, and the country doesn’t need to go down the toilet for me to get laughs. Isn’t it better this way?
It will be. Comedians have a harder time adjusting to joy than they do despair, but it’s what we’d ultimately choose for ourselves and our friends. Having a sure-fire killer 10 minutes on a dangerous, sub-literate president when you’re headlining Shit Eat & Grins in Gary, Indiana pales next to everyone you know being active, working and useful. So I’ll take Obama these next four years. A thoughtful, dynamic president. What a novelty!
I was thinking of this the morning after the election. 7:41 a.m. on November 5th, to be exact. I checked my watch after seeing my daughter on a sonogram. The wife and I had some serious misgivings about bringing someone into the world George W. Bush was forming, but we opted for the same sort of goofy optimism we got married under. I wonder, now that Bush is on the way out, how many “Obama babies” are being made. Not a bad generation to be a part of. Bush showed the world the importance of luck and indifference. Maybe Obama will bring back hard work and engagement. Either way, here’s hoping little Victoria GG Allin Lo Pan Oswalt has way too much joy to adjust to.