Comedy Is Not Critical Thought

Recently, several clowns within the comedy industry sounded off in praise of the life and work of one of their own, who recently passed away.

Among the many reflections, were resounding approvals of the comedian’s more controversial acts.

At this point it is worth remembering, that whereas a staple of our modern entertainment—live, television, cable and motion pictures—comedy should never be mistaken for clear self-correcting reason.  Comedy is entertainment, not exegesis.

It is important to qualify the messenger when hearing the message.

Comedians are not professors. They are the court jesters of the modern age. They are our clowns and we need our clowns.

But much like many actor-turned-philosopher/political commentator, these are people often given to the satisfaction of impulse and emotion, rather than examination and proof. These people have manifestly lesser criteria than the subject of their debate demands. Like many people, they simply build their case up to a point of comfort, not discomfort.

Comedians often deal in caricature, hyperbole and parody, so much of their commentary must be relegated as such.

By all means laugh. Just remember you are laughing at a joke, not a fact.

George Carlin (1937-2008)

Periodically clever, frequently insightful, but too long-winded in his bitter sermons. He often seemed mystified by the obvious, which I thought was odd.

His earlier career was amazing, particularly in the 70’s, but as the decades rolled on he just waxed angrier and angrier. Less comedy, more spite: a recipe I don’t prefer.

But, there were a few times he made me laugh to the point of tears, so that has to count for something.

Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I have several thoughts about Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but I will focus only on the most glaring.

First, I give this movie a solid C+ and if you’ve seen it you know why.

Here’s what really perplexes me: I definitely felt a condemnation of the famous communist witch hunts of the 1950’s (i.e, the Red Scare, McCarthyism—you know, all that) permeating the film: Indiana Jones’ suspension, the forced retirement of the Dean of the university, the paranoia of the investigating FBI agents, etc.

But, doesn’t the movie begin with dozens of Russian saboteurs trespassing on American soil, impersonating high-ranking U.S. military officials, murdering U.S. military personnel, storming presumably the most secret and secure of all U.S. military bases (Area 51), stealing highly classified property of the U.S. government and effecting an unchallenged escape?

Isn’t that what the Red Scare was all about?

Further, not only do these Russian spies infiltrate Area 51, they do so at the critical moment of a U.S. nuclear bomb test—proving their ability to slip into the most sensitive of all American military ventures undetected.

So, doesn’t the opening of the movie completely validate the apparently real threat of Russian infiltration into the U.S. military? Given that opening, how can the movie shift to an anti-alarmist stance?