|"The Laughing Audience" by William Hogarth (Met)|
The hard part about 9/11 for me — and I have to emphasize the for me part, because for other people the hard part was burning to death in a pool of jet fuel — was that nothing was funny anymore.
There was no ironic distance. No sense of relief, no minor mastery over circumstances that comes with finding humor in a situation.
It was all sincerity — George W. Bush-level sincerity, the really strong stuff, 151 proof sincerity. We were defenseless, carried along by the torrent of history without the stout paddle that a solid sense of humor gives a person.
For about a week.
And then, I was watching TV news — that great font of unintentional comedy — which introduced a segment with a logo. You know: flickering candle, weepy soundtrack. I looked at the screen and thought, “I’m sorry all those people are dead ... but if I have to hear ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ one more time, I’m going to puke.”
And with that, normality — my normality anyway — whirred to life, like a computer rebooting. Blank screen then, zing, back in business again.
So it was with admiration and interest that I approached our Sunday front-page feature, “WE COULD ALL USE A GOOD LAUGH ABOUT NOW.” The Sun-Times dragooned 10 Chicago-area comics to share their COVID-19 jokes with our readers.
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