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Comedy in the News

picture of comedy mask

It's no surprise that I enjoy comedy. I seem to be able to find humor in even the most somber of situations. Humor is just a part of my life, including in my teaching ... just ask my students. As serious as the news is these days, it's unusual to find anything remotely funny. So it's been shocking to me to encounter a couple of news items in the past several weeks related to some aspect of comedy.

When I went to Google on the morning of September 30, I learned that it was the fiftieth anniversary of the Flintstones. The original series ran until April 1, 1966. Since then there have been quite a few spin-off series and holiday specials. Here's a picture of the Flintstones (Fred, Wilma, and Pebbles) and the Rubbles (Barney, Betty, and Bamm-Bamm).

picture of the Flintstones

Two days later, October 2, 2010, was the sixtieth anniversary of the first Peanuts comic strip. Here it is:

picture of original Peanuts comic strip

The syndicated comic strip ran until February 13, 2000 (the day after Charles Schulz's death). Many of my friends in high school had their own favorite Peanuts character with whom they identified. Here's the Peanuts gang from the Wikipedia page about the comic strip:

picture of the Peanuts gang

The other day one of my readers stopped by my office to comment on my most recent blog post. As we talked, he asked me if I had seen the news about the clown who had been elected to Congress in Brazil this past weekend. I had not, so I did a search for this news item and found it in quite a few sources. Here's his picture:

picture of Tiririca

Tiririca (a.k.a. Francisco Oliveira Silva) ran to represent Sao Paulo. Tiririca is Portuguese slang for "grumpy." His campaign slogan was "It can't get any worse." The only promises he offered were that he would report back to constituents concerning how their representatives spent their time. In his campaign ads he said, "What does a congressman do? The truth is I don't know, but vote for me and I'll tell you." And this past Sunday he won, collecting more than 1.3 million votes — double any other candidate's total and the second-highest tally ever recorded in Brazil’s history! He has one more challenge in this election, though — he could be removed from office if he can't prove he can read and write. It's OK to be a clown in the Brazilian Congress, I guess, but just not an illiterate clown!?

This reminded me of a news item from several weeks ago when Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central, was called to testify before our Congress. After having spent a day working in the fields himself, Colbert appeared as an expert witness before a House Judiciary subcommittee for a hearing on immigration called "Protecting America's Harvest."

His testimony has spawned all sorts of opinion pieces. Here's one that I thought was most appropriate.

picture of cartoon

Instead of "sending in the clowns," many Americans hope some of the clowns will be sent packing, come November 2, 2010. Time will tell.

I look forward to reading your thoughts on any of today's Comedy in the News items.


"God ordains every choice we make without forcing us to make those choices." - Dr. Tom Wheeler

=^..^= =^..^=

Why do stand-up comedians even try to star in sitcoms?

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4 Comments on “Comedy in the News”

  1. #1 Michael
    on Oct 7th, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I didn’t think that first Peanuts strip was all that funny.

    Rob adds: THANK YOU, MICHAEL! I was feeling as if I had lost my sense of humor. I read it and thought, this thing took off after such a loser of a first strip?! Actually, I have read that a lot of Schulz’s pessimistic outlook came through strongly in Peanuts.

  2. #2 Vikki
    on Oct 7th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    About the comment about the Peanuts strip not being all that funny. Remember the first cartoons? They were really kinda dumb too. Humor has become a lot more sophisticated today. Look at Dagwood and Blondie in some of the other old strips. Not really funny either. Part of the enjoyment was in looking at the drawings. Humor was a bonus.

    Rob adds: Good points, Vikki. I think some of the older humor was based more on irony and brought a wry smile instead of belly laughs.

  3. #3 Andrzej
    on Oct 7th, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    To be honest I think our today humor is not only less sophisticated but being dumbed down year after year. Peanuts are a prime example of a comic strip that’s not based solely on humor, but also it’s an illustration of a variety of moods and feelings of one’s life and society. A lot of Schulz’s strips were not even half funny, they were meant to sadden, irritate, ignite a smile or a grin, but all of them were meant to make people think. And that’s one big thing he achieved, imho.

    I recently bought first 2 books from the “Complete Peanuts” and being a comic books and graphic novels fan for many years, I find Peanuts amusing and intriguing, from the very beginning, and hopefully till the end.

    Rob adds: Thanks for your perspective, Andrzej. I was really into Peanuts as a teen, but then other comic strips grabbed my interest. I still enjoy occasionally reading Peanuts (none of which are new, now that Charles Schultz is dead). In a documentary I saw on the life of Charles Schultz, the creators of the documentary tried to draw parallels between difficult or disappointing events in Schultz’s life and themes in the Peanuts strip. I think you hit the nail on the head in saying that many cartoons are meant “to sadden, irritate, … and to make people think.” And you’re right in saying he achieved that in his work. Thanks, Andrzej! Hope you’ll comment again.

  4. #4 Carrie
    on Oct 7th, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Peanuts isn’t my favorite, although I know it’s tried and true. I did very much enjoy it when the BJU student body did You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. One time my roommate was Lucy, and another time my brother was Schroeder. My personal favorite comic has got to be Calvin and Hobbes, although I’m not sure I want my 8 yo boy getting ideas from them. . .

    If you haven’t heard Stephen Colbert’s “expert” testimony, you should — it’s funny. But I did wonder whose idea it was, and what sort of precident it might be setting. I mean, “expert?” Come on.

    Rob adds: I didn’t like Calvin and Hobbes at first, but once I got into it more, I enjoyed it a lot. I have heard only sound bites from Colbert’s testimony. My time is very limited this semester, so I probably won’t research it more. What I heard sounded like it was undoubtedly funny, but also probably as inappropriate as some are saying it was.