Friday, January 27, 2006

Some Reader ...

I wasn't planning to write anything on that article by John Birmingham - the one where he takes the left to task for being completely humourless unlike Tim Blair, Australia's answer to P J O'Rourke. I haven't read enough of O'Rourke to comment on that comparison but, in my view, Tim's work is a match for the stand-up comedy of US comedian Andrew Dice Clay. I never found him particularly funny either but that was obviously something to do with my own personal tastes because on the one video tape I saw of "Dice" in performance his audience were pissing themselves - possibly quite literally - over such pearls as "What's with these bisexuals. Let's get this straight - you either suck dick or you don't!" That one had them all cheering and the little collegiate fists pumping in the air. Homophobic? Maybe, but the guy had found his audience and he knew how to work them. For all we know, off-stage, Clay might have been a flaming nancy-boy, slipping away to the seedier parts of town after each performance for a spot of rough sex, preferably with a stoker or greaser. That seems unlikely though; if it were true we would have read about it in the tabloids.

As I said, I wasn't planning to write anything on John Birmingham and why he's so utterly wrong about how humourless all us lefties are but a lot got written before I got around to it and my thinking on the topic didn't come to much. Then I got this e-mail which included this comment on the piece:

Was thinking - yeah but wonder what Gummo would say..
(no names, no pack drill because I haven't actually asked for permission to reproduce the contents of the e-mail).

Now I can recognise a hint as well as any other bloke - that is, well enough to studiously ignore it.And I would have gone on studiously ignoring this one if it weren't nearly six o'clock in the morning, all the sound and fury of thunder and lightning on the southern horizon signifies nothing - especially not the prospect of rain and a real cool change and I hadn't just found yet another fragment of broken tooth in the gum crater. That's the third so far. I got rid of two tonight but this one needs to poke its way out a little further before I stand any chance of getting to it with the needle nose pliers. Assuming that I still own a pair of needle nose pliers - otherwise I might have to make do some cheap eyebrow tweezers from the chemist. All in all it's a good night to write about John Birmingham, the topic of Phil Ruddock having been all used up a week or so ago.

Birmingham's article (which also gets a good bollocking at Helen's place) finishes with this sad prognosis of the future of a levity-challenged left:

The left, on the other hand, has indulged for so long now in the guilty pleasures of relativism, protected by a value system that says discussion of certain topics is off limits, that any sense of confidence they might have had at one time has now entirely disappeared. And with it their sense of humour.

It's like the old joke. How many angry feminists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: that's not funny!

I'm old enough to remember when that old joke was a new joke and there was no pussy-footing around about "angry feminists". It was:

How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?

That's not funny!

Of similar vintage are:

What do you call that useless piece of flesh on the end of a penis?

A man.

and this cracker:

How many men does it take to wallpaper a bedroom?

One, but you have to slice him very thinly.

Of course, only a man-hating feminist could find that last one funny - to anyone else it's another offensive example of man-hating feminist double standards. It did occur to me that, as a demonstration that lefty humour is still possible, it could be updated a little:

How many cabinet ministers does it take to whitewash a dunny?

It doesn't matter how fine you grind 'em up, they'll never come out the right colour.

But sadly, that's a bit of a failure in the funny stakes and quite possibly seditious too. So I'd better make it quite clear that I'm in no way advocating that cabinet ministers should be ground up and used to paint dunnies. Well, not today anyway. In any event, it's unlikely that cabinet ministers would prove a superior dunny paint to Wattyl Solarguard.

Since Birmingham brought the light bulb joke into play, I thought I might get some mileage out of How many neo-cons does it take to change a light bulb? But then I realised that the idea of neo-cons changing a light bulb is absurd. Let's face it, if George W Bush got up in his State of the Union address and told everyone that the way forward in the centuries old struggle between Christendom and the infidels (more commonly known as the War on Terror) was a restoration of hereditary monarchy and feudal vassalage, the buggers would be falling overthemselves to demand the return of ducking stools, scolds' bridles and the Black Death, not necessarily in that order. It took a while to get over that hurdle and I'm not sure the results were worth it:

How many neo-cons does it take to change a light bulb?

The end of the cold war and America's rise to pre-eminence as the world's only superpower (or hegemon) has made burnt out light bulbs a thing of the past.

We'll get the Marines onto it, as soon as they've finished with those drains we asked them to unblock.

Let me tell you, we have a smart missile in our armoury that can home in on that burnt out little sucker and take it out, without damaging any of the plaster ducks flying up your living room wall.

Update: Birmingham's article turns up again in the A2 section of today's Age. The front page of the section says of it "John Birmingham Lampoons the Left". Skimming it over a second time, I didn't feel lampooned so much as bored shitless. And it strikes me that someone who blows his punchline by wimping out on a feminist joke is in no position to complain about political correctness strangling humour. So there.

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