340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Old jokes, new punchlines

Humour's a funny thing.

Why'd the chicken cross the road? We've all heard it a million times. Even if you've never heard the joke, you've heard it. It's atavistic pop culture, like the melody to Happy Birthday or "shave and a haircut--two bits!"

It's been said that much humour stems from incongruity or absurdity. So when an anticipated event is replaced by a surprise, it may be funny. To wit:

"Hey mom, why did the chicken cross the road?"
"To get to the other side, dear."

Not funny. However...

"Hey Machiavelli, why'd the chicken cross the road?"
"So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken's dominion maintained."

...is pretty fucking funny.

(for more chicken-joke replies by famous people, you may go here. Some are stupid, many are worth your time.)

Old jokes aren't funny because we know what's going to happen: grass is green, sky is blue, chicken wanted to get to the other side. However, they can be made funny again if we invent new, unexpected punchlines. Then, the humour stems from the ironic relationship that the new punchline has to the old one.

Ronald Reagan (that miserable, manipulative, trigger-happy liar) once said, "politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." In saying so he did a great disservice to sex workers everywhere, but he also underscored what is commonly accepted as a truism: politicians, like prostitutes, are in the business of selling us fantasies. The chief difference is that sex workers are honest liars.

Old jokes, new jokes, sex workers and politicians... yeah, you guessed it: I want to talk about Belinda Stronach.

I don't really have much to say that other people haven't already said more eloquently than I ever could (Steenblogen really did frame the whole thing really well--checkitout). Shannon Rupp over at The Tyee also wrote a great story on the issue. When a career-minded individual sees an opportunity to advance, they take it; when a politician with a modicum of self-respect sees an opportunity to remain true to whatever particular philosophy they've espoused thus far in their careers, they take it.

Why did Belinda cross the floor? Because it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. If she'd been a man, no-one would've said fucking boo and you know it.

It seems that Conservative bully-boys, self-important meathead pundits and blowhard policy wonks can only handle the same tired old jokes:

"Hey, why did the politcian double-cross his allies?"
"Because he had to do what he felt was right."

For example, when Peter Mackay signed an agreement with David Orchard, he fully intended to knife him later--for the good of Canadians, of course. Perfectly reasonable.(*)

But add a new punchline and suddenly their heads start spinning like Linda Blair in a tilt-a-whirl:

"Hey Mackay, Harper and all the rest of you hypocritical dinosaurs--why'd the politician cross the floor?"
"Because she had to do what she felt was right."

And coast to coast, everyone loses their shit. She's a whore, a dipstick and unable to understand complex situations (I'm quoting pretty much verbatim) and poor Peter Mackay's the heartbroken sod left twisting in the wind of her passing. Pardon me, but in the words of Mae West, he's so crooked he uses a corkscrew for a ruler. This whole Belinda thing is karma, baby--ain't it a bitch?

As for the lady herelf... well, she managed to satisfy her professional ambitions while remaining true to her stated principles. In politics, there are no sweeter deals. Good on ya, Stronach.

(*) Thanks to Bruce McDonald for the links.


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