by Steve Ricci
“It’s an emotional day. A lot of us are still mourning the loss of one of America’s most entertaining figures, who left us all too soon. But don’t worry, folks, Sarah Palin will be back. Comedians everywhere are praying.” —Conan O’Brien
I’ve always held that, as social constructs go, religion and politics have damaged humanity more than any others, with the obvious exception of square dancing. And yet I frequently find myself, knees in right-angled supplication, praying fervently that Sarah Palin tosses her Bumpit back into the political ring, and fast.
I’m not some closet conservative or ditto head, nor am I unsympathetic to the plight of the Alaskan wildlife she seems to revel in riddling with high-caliber ammunition while hanging out the door of a Bell Cobra attack chopper. Hey, everyone has as much right to their provincial, repressive political views as they do to their vicious, sadistic hobbies, right? Who am I to judge?
No, I advocate here on behalf of the international brotherhood of humorists, those of us who labor (either for fun, for profit, or for the seedy black-market humorist slave trade) to wring humor from the consistently dismal pageant of despair we call current events. Alas, 2009 has been an especially tough year for our jest-happy brethren.
In the entertainment realm, we lost Michael Jackson, an ever-gushing wellspring of self-parodying hilarity who did for the humor business what the discovery of electricity did for sales of electric blankets. We shall miss him/her/(insert approximate pronoun here). O.J. Simpson sits in a prison cell, barred from any more felonious frolics. Mss. Lohan, Spears, and Hilton rarely haunt the savage landscape of primordial vapidity over which they once ruled like bra-less Tyrannosaurs. Is a blathering Kanye West all we’re going to get to work with this year? Really? Because if I have to come up with one more Jon and Kate meet the Octomom gag, I just might take up a more comical avocation, like ice road trucking or sequoia toppling or any of those dismemberment-intensive jobs the History Channel seems obsessed with chronicling.
Nor does it end there. Our losses in the political world have been far more arduous. In January we bade farewell to a president with the intellectual acuity of a rusted trailer hitch; a man who presided over a financial crisis, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, and a constitutional catastrophe with all the administrative dexterity one might expect of a squirrel attempting to fly the space shuttle. So dazzlingly inept was our former Sock Puppet in Chief, that members of the Nobel Committee practically trampled each other to be the first to hurl a Peace Prize in the direction of his successor. There is no question in my mind that, had a cocker spaniel ascended to the presidency after Bush, even the dog would have been lauded as a peace-making agent of global change.
What, I ask you, WHAT are we humorists to do without the man who said, “I didn’t grow up in the ocean, as a matter of fact, near the ocean. I grew up in the desert. Therefore, it was a pleasant contrast to see the ocean. And I particularly like it when I’m fishing.”? Or this: “All of us in America want there to be fairness when it comes to justice.” Or this, from a 2001 radio address: “My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we’re going to run out of debt to retire.” (Seriousness spoiler alert: This debt was around $5.7 trillion when President George W. Door Knob made the comment. It was pushing $11 trillion when he left office. But I’ll bet those anxious economists are sleeping easier now.)
Sigh. The salad days. Bush churned out malapropisms with such blinding rapidity that Bushism websites, struggling to keep pace with the gaffes, had to outsource the work to India. Ah, well. It’s over. It’s just over, that’s all; and we humorists need to accept that there may never again be a politician on the national scene as blundering, as bungling, as singularly oblivious…
Wait a minute… Who’s that hottie in the updo, winking at us from behind a wall of makeup? Yes! It’s Sarah! The Barracuda’s back, stone cold sober, as a matter of fact! She’s gonna save the humor industry!
Now, I know some of you will say, “But, Steve. C’mon. She’s not in public office anymore and she’s not running for anything. Is it really fair to take potshots? Isn’t that kinda like throwing rocks at the short bus? Fun? Sure. But hardly sporting.” To that I say, “Meh. Double meh.” Check out this quote from her gubernatorial resignation speech. I repeat… RESIGNATION SPEECH: “…it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand, ‘sit down and shut up,’ but that’s the worthless, easy path; that’s a quitter’s way out.”
You read it right. In a speech in which she’s resigning her office, she claims that continuing to serve in the position to which she was elected is the quitter’s way out. That’s gold, Jerry, GOLD!
As though that tender, glistening morsel of Pavlovian absurdity weren’t enough to spritz the salivary glands of every starving humorist in the country, her very next statement was: “And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and go with the flow. Nah, only dead fish go with the flow.”
Can it be? Is she actually giving us a fish analogy in much the same vein as former President George W. Mulch Pile gave us in his stirring appreciation of ocean water? Can this logic-mangling temptress be the heaven-sent messiah we humorists have been waiting for?
You betcha. That’s why I have formed the Humorists For Palin political action committee. We are not interested in what is politically expedient or beneficial for this country. We don’t care about jobs, deficits, wars, health care, or whether polar bears are chasing tigers through the rain forests. We just need material!
Nor are we discouraged by the polls, which estimate Palin’s odds of winning the presidency as roughly equivalent to that of Gary Coleman starting at center for the Lakers this year. We will sweep her into office on a tsunami of satire so profound it will make Saturday Night Live look like a six-hour seminar on tax code revision (not that it doesn’t already). Our organization’s official logo is a dead fish swirling against the flow of a toilet bowl basin.
If America needs anything right now, it’s laughs. And what better way to clang the chimes of laughter across this mirth-starved nation than with a president who thinks Afghanistan is a neighboring country of the U.S.; who actually thanked a radio talk show prank caller posing as the president of France for complimenting her on a satirical porn video entitled Nailin’ Palin; and who believes that the United States has a Department of Law?
We have the utmost confidence in our chipper candidate because here’s what she herself said about her future plans: “I’m like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is.”
Here’s your open door, Sarah: Humorists For Palin. It’s your gilded, swinging saloon door to the Oval Office. Don’t let it whap you on the backside as you walk in.
—Steve Ricci is a writer, editor, and photographer who is on Step 7 of a 12-step program designed to help him overcome an addiction to deli mustard.