Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Images for the Ages: Beating the Vote

I'm lucky to be alive. Okay, that's too melodramatic. I was just having a late lunch upstairs and right in the middle of chomping away I suddenly was hit with a short burst of laughter that would have killed most men. There is so much going on right now. I imagine those young comedy writers at the Daily Show running up and down the halls wondering what's going to happen next. Maybe they're gathered around the TV in Jon Stewart's office freaking out. In comedy circles the last few days have been legendary. These are the times the young comedy writers will discuss later when they look back.

It got me looking back as well. There were days when I would respond to a sudden twist in the news with a barrage of jokes. I would run to the keyboard to fire off some last minute lines about a late-breaking story. The quickest turnaround I ever experienced came during the OJ trial when Judge Ito said something at around 2:30, and I sent my jokes in right afterwards. One was taped at 5:30, and aired back East at 11:35. That's around a 6 hour window from when it happened to when my joke about it was televised to a third of the United States.

Those days are gone. Now I am an old lion. I still feel a sense of amazement when this much goes down, but there is no point in trying to get jazzed by it. My enthusiasm for the game has waned. I did have two jokes on last night. One captured the overall mood: "You know when I see all the sleaziness in politics, I’m just so glad I picked a wholesome career like show business." It tanked. This was followed by a complaint that all the Jewish writers were out for a religious holiday and there were no good jokes that night.

Ouch. So I just keep turning them out but I don't go into def-com delta 3 anymore. I'm just too worn down by humanity to experience that required level of stunned amazement.

That's why my experience at lunch was so atypical. I was thinking through the latest developments for the one touch that captured this entire subject. There it was. The image was derived from some of the emails. Apparently Foley, a duly elected Republican Congressman was jerking off during a vote.

Thinking about it, I laughed like a young man again. A sudden involuntary blast of ill-timed laughter came from deep within my guts that could have caused medical complications. You're in the United States Congress and you're jerking off while you vote? We already had Clinton getting serviced by Monica while he was on the phone, and in a way that sums up his presidency: At the desk, working hard, and getting hard at the same time. But a bill being decided by Congress, and one of the members is stroking his member? This is a strong candidate for the definitive statement of these years. This is an image for the ages.

It's a troubling visual for our country, but a comforting laugh for me. It means somewhere in there, I still have a sense of humor.


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