We sought something to entertain my enlarged family; Tim suggested Norm McDonald’s last monologue, “Nothing Special,” done the night before surgery. Then, a group of comedians reminisced with stories of his eccentricity and gentleness from their days in standup and casino venues.
We watched SNL in its first years, when my daughters were infants; their generation had been, I think, more McDonald fans (we stopped watching as years went by.) I had only heard after his death of the O.J. jokes that got him fired. But my son-in-law remembered the shock, before the “woke” and “me too” shame environment, when funny lines weren’t enough against political favorites. Humor juxtaposes what we claim and what we do sometimes, it is often about the elephant in the room, the emperor’s illusory clothes. The humor of SNL, is of skits and stand-ups, often topical; its “bite” may be sharp but we laugh because it is, in some sense, true.
Did the Sussman trial have its jokes? It has no gore, no glamour, but a joke or two is helpful in sustaining truth and our sanity. It is a release valve so a society doesn’t blow up, it can pull a crazy back to reality, give a moment of wry self awareness much more easily accompanied by a laugh than a tirade.
The jurors felt the case shouldn’t have seen a courtroom, lying to the FBI is not, after all, a big deal. (Not surprising in terms of how the FBI has conducted itself of late nor considering how seldom we do face and tell truths, but given the number of people who have been locked up for that act, it seems a bit brazen for a jury to take that stance.) I’d like some jokes about the obvious context, the blurted out mention of Hillary’s blessing on the whole sleazy project. Jokes rest in our minds, they remind us.