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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 [1]:

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

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