Years ago, back when we were in grad school, studying Kant and Descartes and Aristotle and Plato, a friend of ours had an interesting remark:
A philosophy of comedy needs to be funny.
What was interesting about his remark, besides its cleverness, was what he was getting at: The essence of something needs to be what it is. If you’re getting at the essence of comedy, what it’s about, how it works — which is what you do in philosophy, and why philosophers get laid so hard — your understanding of it needs to be funny itself. Which is the classic problem with explaining a joke: There are the ingredients, but where’s the soufflé?
We’ve been thinking a lot about Blazing Saddles lately. We’ve been thinking a lot about it for the past ten years, actually, in different ways at different times.
What first started bringing it to mind, was, well, the obvious: The Sheriff is near. The Sheriff was Barack Obama, and you couldn’t help playing it out from there. (Okay, and Biden is Gene Wilder, and Madeleine Kahn is — maybe we should just keep that one to ourself.)
And if that’s the reason Blazing Saddles came to mind, it should have stopped coming to mind two years ago, with Sheriff Barack and Joe driving off into the sunset in a Secret Service limo.
But it didn’t go away. It keeps coming back.
- Trump shows up: Drink
- Trump opens his mouth: Drink
- A stream of bats issue from Trump’s open mouth: Drink
Selections from the indictment of Roger Stone on charges of perjury, obstruction, and witness tampering. HPSCI is the House intelligence committee. Person 2 is Randy Credico, a former WBAI radio host whose talk show was canceled in November 2017 because of his “internet bullying”. Organization 1 is WikiLeaks.
Stone had testified — lied — that Credico was his connection to Julian Assange, and he was leaning on Credico to back his story. Credico wasn’t agreeing.
On or about October 19, 2017, STONE sent Person 2 an excerpt of his letter to HPSCI that identified Person 2 as his “intermediary” to Organization 1. STONE urged Person 2, if asked by HPSCI, to falsely confirm what STONE had previously testified to, including that it was Person 2 who provided STONE with the basis for STONE’s early August 2016 statements about contact with Organization 1. Person 2 repeatedly told STONE that his testimony was false and told him to correct his testimony to HPSCI. STONE did not do so. STONE then engaged in a prolonged effort to prevent Person 2 from contradicting STONE’s false statements to HPSCI.
There’s a scene in All the President’s Men that a few folks like us were reminded of Friday night. It’s October 1972, before the election, and Woodward & Bernstein publish a major scoop: Nixon campaign treasurer Hugh Sloan has testified to a grand jury that Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman controls the campaign’s illegal slush fund.
And just as they break out the champagne in the Washington Post newsroom, all hell breaks loose.
“Sure, understanding today’s complex world of the future is a little like having bees live in your head,” says the Honorable Chester Cadaver. “But, there they are.”
Oh dear, now look what you’ve made us do, we’re opening with Firesign Theatre.
And yet that’s been our state of mind the past three weeks, the three weeks of the shutdown. We’ve been waiting to get our bearings, see where this is going, see what difference it makes when one wing of the Capitol isn’t run by traitors.
We still don’t have a fix. It’s all bees.
Which, truth be told, is an improvement over the past couple years.