The end of the world is nigh: let’s die laughing

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Geoffrey Chaucer‘s The Canterbury Tales (1392) allegedly contains the first recorded association between April 1 and foolishness. But, going by world news, I think it’s more like March being a proper collection of you-crack-me-up stuff. Brexit was triggered just three days before April Fools’ day. And I am sure Ms May made it a point to avoid the foolish date in fond remembrance of our own Dom Mintoff seeing off the bad old Brits just a few hours before the dreaded fools’ day a few long decades ago.

The march to madness pays superb homage to the Mad March Hare so Ms May was, I would say, spot on. Actually, in a further parallel with Alice’s wonderland, Ms May does strike me as being totally capable. Capable of screaming out at any who disagree with her ‘Off with their head’.

March or April, on these shores or in distant lands, we live in interesting times, although this feeling of surrealism has always been a part of life. Take the fear of a possible or probable war. Scary and horrid as it might sound, that North Korean nutters could nuke a few cities out of existence sounds like dejà-vu of the post-Second World War scenario when the cold war led to constant predictions of global conflagration.

Presumably, since we are still writing, reading, discussing and predicting our imminent doom, nothing happened that wiped humanity out back then. So, surreal and scary it might be, but we’ll probably make it to the next round of madness.

The interesting parts are not just what Kim Jong Un (does his name mean Kim the young one?), Donald Trump, Putin, Beppe Grillo, Marine Le Pen, and a whole load of beasts could be up to next. Lock them all up in a pen say I. A sort of funny farm where the inmates are political brutes. We could even send our own samples from Malta. Find a place in Panama to keep it secret.

My truly frightening grouse is not the horrors of these political clowns. It is that humour—and laughing at the antics of nutters like Donald Trump—has suddenly and sadly become our latest news portal.

A recent brilliant analysis claimed that satirists in the USA are doing a super job of debunking Trump’s actions, while traditional journalists feel compelled to report even ridiculously false claims seriously.

This might all be true—and the analysis is perfect poetry. But even if my silly ideas will not change an iota of what people think, my take on humour, however potent, remains the same, whoever is in power or close to it.

Humour should make people laugh, listeners should have a great time seeing comedians shred anyone and anything to pieces anytime. If there is also a message—and jesters always have a message, coded or not—then so much the better.

Nobody should turn to the shows mentioned in the analysis purely to learn the truth about the POTUS or his cronies. Audiences should be there merely for a laugh, though if there is a lesson in there then the comedian and his humour are even more successful.

We are definitely living through great times—times of great danger, times of great horrors. It saddens me to think that comedy could one day serve a serious purpose and nothing else.

Take Beppe Grillo. As a comedian he was one of the best to hit the Italian scene. When he became serious and used his fame to break into politics his fame grew—as a maverick, as a man who could destroy traditional approaches to politics, promise heaven on earth and beat the establishment. Rather like Donald Trump. But, if he (or his surrogate as he is barred from being an MP) ever wins power Grillo, like Trump, will be the laughing stock of the world; he will prove that draining the swamp is easy to promise but once you wear the tough shoes of running the show the swamp swallows you up.

Proof of this is Virginia Raggi from Grillo’s Five Star movement who won the mayoral election of Rome just under a year ago. All she has managed to do is be completely inept, get mired in more controversies than is usual in Italy (and that’s quite a glorious feat!), and deliver only on more corruption.

Long live comedy. Long live comedians. And a middle-fingered salute to being serious.