Saturday December 15th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL
Comedians as a collective group can be some of the most insensitive people on the planet when it comes to showing tact when discussing controversial topics. It’s our job to rattle the cages of a mostly thick headed public, and we quickly develop a thick skin and aren’t afraid to push limits.
Even the most taboo of subjects can be hilariously funny between comedians, and we often tell each other wildly offensive jokes none of us would ever dare try on any stage. I will admit, I’m a big fan of these kinds of jokes only because I know they’re jokes. I don’t take the words literally.
The reason comedians are so seemingly callous is that our point of being surprised by anything has been pushed so far back over time we have to go a lot farther than anyone else to get any sort of reaction. It’s like an addict or alcoholic needing more to attain their buzz. A tolerance is built.
There are all kinds of dark and severely twisted jokes that are extremely funny about all kinds of delicate and unfunny subjects from spousal abuse to Hitler to the Kennedy assassination. They show up out of nowhere and spread like wildfire, and this has taken place since the dawn of man.
I don’t claim to be a psychologist, but I’m sure it helps the human psyche deal with things that are shocking and painful. Laughter is a defense mechanism, and comes in our human tool box at birth. Comedians didn’t put it there, but we definitely learn to operate it better than anyone else.
A good example is my friend Larry Reeb. “Uncle Lar” is a hilarious comedian out of Chicago, and one of the best club comics to ever step on a stage. His tag line is “It’s a sick world, and I’m a happy guy.” He has some of the most shocking jokes I’ve ever heard, but audiences love him.
Part of the fact is that he’s a wonderful guy. Off stage, he’s laid back and mellow and actually a very well read articulate person. I’ve been friends with Larry for years, and we’ve gotten along extremely well. Quite often we engage in conversation that has nothing to do with being funny.
Then there are times we make each other laugh uproariously. If someone were to record any of those verbal exchanges, we’d probably both be charged with felonies but we both know what we are saying is only in the context of being funny. It’s between us only, so nobody gets offended.
All that being said, I’m still unable to find a single thing even remotely funny about the horrific events of the Connecticut school shootings. It disgusts me to the core, and as difficult as it was to do I tried to avoid it all day. It took over television, radio and internet but I couldn’t stand it after about five minutes and had to turn it off. Normally my brain would search for where the funny is.
With this particular series of events, I just don’t think it’s there. It takes a lot to shock me about anything, but this comes about as close as I’d ever like to get. What could cause anyone to go off the deepest part of the deep end like this is beyond my ability to comprehend, and when I attempt to figure it out I get nothing but a sick feeling of emptiness in the pit of my stomach and a feeling of deep sadness for what all of the families must be going through. There’s nothing funny there.