Last week, shortly after deploying another 1,500 American troops back into Iraq, Barack Obama received a letter, purporting to come from the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which began thusly:
It was late in the evening when we first learned of your decision Friday to deploy an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq. Sorry, we were catching up on the latest episode of “Lilyhammer.” But, seriously, is that a tradition in the States? Releasing such news late on a Friday with the fatuous hope people would forget by Monday? But on second thought, after perusing the American media, it’s possible such schemes may be effective. There appears to be more concern over one Ebola patient— in a country of 316 million people— than the news that your administration is invading Iraq all over again.
The committee concluded by castigating itself as a group of "delusional dupes" for giving Nobel Peace Prizes to both Obama (2009) and to Henry Kissinger (1973), a former Secretary of State with a considerable record of lethal malevolence and bloody meddling around the globe. "That is all," the committee added. "Now, back to 'Lilyhammer.'"
I mention this, not because of any special animus I may have against the President (Kissinger is another matter entirely), but because it was reported as fact on several creditable websites though denied as fact on Snopes.com. Yet whether fact or parody, either way it makes perfect sense. It clearly reads as parody, but any functioning adult can see the justice in it. What's more, it typifies the dilemma of any ironic soul who looks askance, obliquely and skeptically at the world, hoping to raise a laugh - namely, the dilemma that nothing seems funny any longer; that what might be the stuff of parody is actually the truth, or, if it is parody, that it seems utterly convincing. I have to admire the people at The Onion these days, obliged as they are to construct a parodic realm arguably funnier than the quotidian.
I mean seriously - this is an age in which the Hon. James Inhofe, senator from Oklahoma, whose grasp of science is roughly that of a twelve-year-old home schooler and who believes climate change is a conspiracy of MoveOn.org, George Soros and Michael Moore, is the next chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It isn't the Onion any longer, but the Koch Brothers, who write the funniest scripts. The White House has just announced an "historic agreement" with China on emissions reductions in which the U. S. reduces its greenhouse gas output to one-quarter of its 2005 level, while China is required to do virtually nothing. This is touted as a partial solution to "an urgent global challenge."
Greenhouse gas: Peter Griffin & Michael Moore
In Texas, a schizophrenic named Scott Panetti who, while acting as his own attorney at his trial donned a purple bandana and a cowboy costume and called witnesses such as John F. Kennedy, the Pope, and Jesus Christ, is scheduled for execution.
Theatrical producers in Las Vegas are planning to stage a musical, "The Duck Commander Family Musical," based on the Duck Dynasty characters, presumably avoiding the shoals of the family's historic attitudes towards your stereotypical theatrical producer (remember Roger Debris in Mel Brooks's "The Producers": "Quick darling, back in the closet!"), many of whom are aghast at the idea of their professional colleagues having any hand in this, if I may use that expression. It may be, as the New York Times puts it, "too bayou for Broadway," meaning that now when the Rat Pack visits Las Vegas, they bring their pet rats.
The problem for a wag is that the targets have become too broad and too easy to skewer. Gone are the palmy days of 2012, when Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich strewed their ample comic benisons over the comedic terra cognita. Now suddenly, it's all become real. When humor is indistinguishable from fact, when it's all too funny, then nothing's very funny. We are all gone through the looking glass.
St. Donald, patron of comedians