Monday, April 15, 2013

of humor and tragedy

today something terrible happened.
like everyday.
but today it was unhidden, widespread, and lethal.
such days have been known to happen in our history.
and dark solemnity touches the hearts of the collective of humanity.
we take a moment bought by too high a price to appreciate what and who we still have to hold onto.

but there are others.  oh so many others who lost so much.
their limbs, their loves, their lives.
and their loss demands our respect- if nothing else.

i scroll though facebook like everyone else.  honestly, probably too often.  and in the scraps of highs and lows recorded there today i found this respect.  i found many other things beyond decency, like empathy, and a call for helpers- the reactions to such horror as one would hope would be displayed.

but i also found something else.
a comedian (who will further more be referred to as "the ass"- of whom i was a growing fan) posting jokes about today's tragedy in boston.
the victim count is not complete.
the families have not yet been able to rest their heads on their pillows and face sleepless nights.
hell, the volunteers and witnesses probably still have rubble in their hair, filth on their cheeks.
and the ass thinks that there is no harm in a few sentences blurted out on the internet.
in fact, when called out on it by a multitude of people, the ass made a stance about the acceptability of what he was doing- saying it was no worse than other media coverage.

and i mean there is merit in that.  the sensationalism of horrors, the wild speculation, the obsession.  i'm not a fan of the way the news covers events.

but that doesn't make what the ass is doing alright.  it just makes the ass... an ass.

humor is one of the virtues of life that i value the most.  especially humor that can take tragedy and make us see some kind of twisted upside or hope or quirk there.  humor that doesn't take things to seriously.  that understands terribleness is all around us.
war, hunger, abuse, rape, bullying, bigotry, disease, neglect...
the thrumming beat that ticks beneath the surface of our everyday- this terribleness seeks to pull us under so that we can no longer see the wonderfulness mounded on top of it.  trying to squash it away, trying to negate it's influence over us.  and humor applied well and liberally can help buoy us against it.

irreverent humor can be one of the most uplifting things out there.
but to get it right, i am sure is no small easy task.
the secret lies within the heart of the joke-teller, i am sure.
and a man who has no sense to weep over the tragedy laid naked on the streets of boston today, does not have the heart or wisdom to decipher which things to say and which to keep to himself.

and such a man no longer has my ear.

which is the strongest disapproval i have to offer.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some people are just sick. Not on Facebook, so don't know who it is, but I remember a certain other ass comedian who made jokes the day of the tsunami in Japan. (And found himself without an Aflac gig anymore as a result.) Human tragedy should never be the substance of a joke.

vic caswell said...

i was- and still am- completely shocked by the callousness. :(

Emily White said...

I'm still in so much shock. I really can't imagine what type of person could make jokes like that. I don't even want to know.

vic caswell said...

i think there must be a level of desensitization and detachment from the events. i think maybe selfishness, a desire to be "edgy", and a lack of common sense and decency have something to do with it...
honestly, i don't know either.

Sarah Ahiers said...

i know this is completely unrelated to the seriousness of this post but, when did you change your blog??? Oh, Anne just told me you mentioned it on FB. NM then. It looks lovely.
And yes, i can't even about the bombings in boston

Accidentalwriter said...

If a voice speaks - may it do so for the betterment of humanity - you managed this in a most beautiful fashion - I look forward to hearing much more from you.

vic caswell said...

@sarah- yeah, i know. words are expected to fail during times like this, i suppose.

@mr.jeff- thanks.

Chad Errio said...

Vic, You state that you were 'a growing fan' of mine. If that was the case, it really shouldn't have surprised you when I posted comments about what happened in Boston. Were they 'too soon' as people say? Maybe. Were some people offended? Of course. I knew that would probably happen because that happens with almost any joke a comedian tells.
You listed a few subjects as an example- 'war, hunger, abuse, rape, bullying, bigotry, disease, neglect'- I've poked fun at pretty much all of those and managed to anger and/or upset someone each time. In one instance, I made jokes about the Batman theater shooting before the body count was even finalized and I remember you 'liking' & commented on those. How is that any different than this? I've always said, If you don't like a joke then don't laugh at it.
Feel free to think I'm an ass, thats your right. But you can't sit there and pick and choose what's ok to joke about. Either everything can be funny or nothing can. We live in a time where Gilbert Godfried has to apologize for a tweet and Daniel Tosh has to apologize for shutting down a heckler...
Do I want to lose fans? Of course not. But it happens because occasionally stepping over the line is what I've been doing for years. That type of humor got me the fan base I have now. And its the same type of humor that you said you were a growing fan of. I'm sorry that you were offended by one particular set of jokes on one particular day. But thats what happens sometimes.
You said I am 'a man who has no sense to weep over the tragedy'& that I 'do not have the heart or wisdom to decipher which things to say and which to keep to himself.' I do feel for the victims. But I don't feel the need to post BS heartfelt comments about 'my thoughts & prayers going out to them'. I don't need to change my profile pic to whatever is the current cool thing to support at the moment... I say my prayers privately. I support causes I believe in year round. And I handle tragedy with laughter. Sometimes I gain fans. Sometimes I lose them. Thats the risk I take & I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

Rusty Webb said...

So, is it safe to assume the 'ass' was Chad? Although you did go out of your way not to name him, I guess he outed himself. I agree with you though, I can't joke about things like what happened in Boston... I can't stand to listen to jokes about that sort of thing either. It hurts.

vic caswell said...

@mr.chad- there is a difference between irreverant, inappropriate, and indecent humor. your most recent comments fall into the last category.

let's take what you say point by point here, since you feel like arguing. i'm not surprised at all that you would tackle the concept of what happened in boston. if you were a decent comedian, you would have taken timing into consideration. i'm quite surprised that someone such as me who does not claim to be a comedian in anyway knows that this is one of the most basic elements of comedy. one of which, you completely lack. and one of the reasons you lose fans. you simply are not funny when your timing is horrific.

i am not one of the people who are professionally offended. if you know me at all and to whom i listen that should be clear. it's like the onion and the cunt incident. you have completely crossed a line from smartass to complete ass.

i might have laughed at one of your batman jokes. i can't remember it. i don't know what drove me to like it. and maybe i found it funny. or maybe my hubby clicked like, or maybe i was tired or trying to be encouraging. who the hell knows. i do find if odd that you remember everyone who likes every post you post though...

i can totally pick and choose what i find funny or offensive or repugnant or brilliant. just like you can choose to ignore all wisdom and decency. really? who do you think you are to tell someone what they can choose to think? i said i choose not to listen to you anymore. not that you don't have the freedom to be an ass.

again, i don't know what gilbert gotfried or daniel tosh have to do with anything. i am not one of the professionally offended people. but i do think that there is nothing wrong with heartfelt apology when needed. there is something noble about it, actually. that is when it's genuine.

i was trying to be tactful earlier, but i think i'm going to have to come out and say it here, because you aren't catching on. you have put your desire to have "fans" above these people's lives. it is selfish and disgusting. and i choose not to contribute to your desire to raise infamy out of others' tragedy. it's the strongest thing i can think to do. i'm not going to flame you. i tried to keep you anonymous. i unfriended you and despite the fact that jon and mike have always been the best parts of three the hard way i unsubscribed to your podcast. because to you, being "followed, liked, and tweeted about" is more important than anything else. you may claim otherwise, but i'll tell you something.

those thoughts and prayers are not empty shells. they're true, whether you believe in any kind of system where they have power or not. changing a fb icon to show solidarity can actually give comfort to people undergoing hardship and while it might be a "popular" thing to do, that does not eleviate it of it's power or effect for those struggling. like the latest red equals sign one. i had several lgbt friends who felt much comfort in that. and for me, with the people i know in rural kansas, it was actually a brave thing to do. i know that makes no sense to you, because you think offending people is brave. when it's not. it's hurtful. comedy has a power to overcome so much hurt- or be weaponized to actually hurt people and that is what you're choosing to do.

you know what's really sad, mr.chad. is that you have some comedic skill. you really do. but you are so lacking in wisdom and tact that you will never be as funny as you could be.

vic caswell said...

continued @chad:
i had more to say, but i lost the text, and frankly mr.chad, you aren't worth the time it would take to retype it.

i have the right to choose not to listen to you anymore. and that's what i'm choosing.

i do wish the best for jon and mike, though.

vic caswell said...

@mr.rusty- ugh. yeah. and HI!

Chad Errio said...

You're right Vic, you have every right to decide what YOU think is funny. But just because YOU don't find something funny, it doesn't mean it isn't funny to someone else. I'm not here to argue my point, because obviously, we'll never agree. You ask me who I think I am to tell someone what to think? I never told you what to think. All I was pointing out is that NO ONE has the right to tell a comedian what is and is not funny... And you are completely correct about timing. Timing is important, when you want it to be... But when a comedic persona ignores it intentionally, its a completely different thing... I do appreciate being referee to as 'The Ass'. It's fitting.
I only pointed out the Batman posts because I found it interesting that you laughed at jokes made about a shooting in a theater but jokes about a bomb in the street were inappropriate. And the only reason I remembered that specifically is because you were one of our first listeners... And a loyal listener at that. And even if you were only listening for Mike & Jon, I still do appreciate that.
That being said, you can judge me all you like, it doesn't matter. I'm not here to get more likes, followers, & tweeted about. I only posted my comments to state my opinion on the matter.
Will it change anything? Doubtful... Will you ever listen to the podcast again? I seriously doubt it... And that's unfortunate. Because if you did enjoy it, you let a couple of jokes from someone you never liked anyway to make you angry enough to take that from you. And I truly am sorry for THAT.

I won't be commenting here again. It's not my intention to make you angry on your own blog. We don't agree on this, most likely never will, and there's no point in me fueling your anger or filling up your comment section.

vic caswell said...

@ chad- i'm glad you're leaving here. it was never my intention for your name to ever be attached to this discussion. that's why i never mentioned it. this is one of the few venues i feel safe speaking out about the things i believe in.

although, it being the internet, of course anyone can comment or read or whatever, but there's a reason i dropped my blog that reached more readers before i made this switch.

of course you are after followers, tweets, and all that nonsense. don't lie.

i'm sure that there is an audience for all kinds of "humor" but i feel as though you went way too far, and i have the right to voice that. as for persona- maybe that's why i've never been able to connect to you as a performer. attempts to be a protected kind of genuine is usually what appeals to me.

i still think it's reproachful what you said.
and i still don't remember the batman things, but it's likely either i didn't really realize what was going on (as i get annoyed by the news i found out about that batman situation a little late). or i found it in poor taste, but figured you guys were new in your craft and developing an appropriate kind of "irreverent" humor would take time, and i wanted to encourage you, as a budding artist. i had- even to this point- no idea you that you thought your craft was honed. i try to encourage many people i think have talent, and since you fellows kept being recommended, i tried to help cheer you on- which is really what any kind of listener does in a way.
anyway, have a nice life chasing your humor. may you get all the jollies you can by hurting others.

Misha Gericke said...

Interesting situation up there. Uhm... not sure what I can add to this discussion, since I don't know Chad. Anyway.

Thanks for the twitter follow. :-)

vic caswell said...

@misha- yeah... it's a bit of a mess. O.o