The Abused News, Part 1

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Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

Topical humor—commentary on politics, social trends and other news—is an art form almost as old as civilization. Quite often, it also has the added benefit of irritating people in power, which, let’s be honest, further tickles your audience.

The White House today denied that it authorized a drone strike on the producers of Dance Moms.

While news commentary can be found even in ancient texts, it can also be found in graffiti on what we now call historic ruins in such antiquated cities as Babylon, Carthage, and Cleveland.

There are also numerous modern masters of topical humor that young comedians can study: Will Rogers, Mort Sahl, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher to name a few. The popularity of topical humor has not diminished over time. If anything, as society has become more connected, it’s become more popular. Let’s examine a modest sample:


Arbitrarily chosen news story: Harriet Tubman Replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill.

Our take:

US Treasury Secretary Jacob “Jack” Lew today announced the redesigned US twenty dollar bill will feature a picture of Harriet Tubman, even though he much preferred the more alluring etching of Hillary Clinton in sturdy underwear and Gladiator sandals.

If you’re unfamiliar with Harriet Tubman, that’s perfectly normal—most US voters slept through high school history class. Ms. Tubman was a prominent abolitionist, which means that, pre-Civil War, she was adept at stealing other people’s lawful property.

NOTE: Our country’s history of slavery is still a highly contentious issue in the United States. Some politicians avoid the topic out of pure, heartfelt shame, and others couch their views in politically-correct rhetoric. For example, Bernie Sanders’ recent comment expressing a definitively modern view of slavery:

Come see the house…and you said unpaid interns couldn’t build a nice stone patio.

So, how did Ms. Tubman qualify to have her picture on our money?

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That question is difficult to answer. The majority of black women during Ms. Tubman’s era never owned a twenty-dollar bill in their entire lives. Politically, this announcement reeks of blatant pandering to win support from women and minority voters. However, the primary influence on the Treasury’s decision is that, while twenty bucks was at one time a month’s wages, it’s now only worth a few Happy Meals and a 10-piece McNuggets. Ergo, our top five too-big-to-fail banks have downgraded the twenty from petty cash to pocket change. Therefore, Wall Street no longer objects to allowing the “little people” to replace the current bill’s picture, which although often mistaken for Andrew Jackson, is actually the long-haired, college fraternity picture of Donald Trump. The Trump campaign has yet to comment on his being replaced by an old black woman.

-The End-

What can the reader learn from this bit of lunacy? Quite a lot actually (and factually):

  1. The current US Treasury Secretary is Jacob “Jack” Lew.
  2. The Treasury Department authorizes changes to our currency.
  3. Harriet Tubman was a prominent abolitionist, and her picture will appear on the new twenty.
  4. Slavery was once lawful in the US, and this part of our history is still contentious in some regards.
  5. Unpaid interns and slavery MAY have some similarities.
  6. Black women during Ms. Tubman’s era were mostly poor.
  7. Twenty dollars was at one time a month’s salary.
  8. With the passage of time, depreciation has radically reduced the value of twenty dollars.
  9. Donald Trump has been replaced by an old black woman.

Okay, number 9—possibly not true, however a reader of this very brief article painlessly learns a great deal when the writer makes them laugh. Readers AND WRITERS love topical humor because it’s both informative and fun. Done well, that’s a heady and popular mix.


Parting Funny: After twelve years of therapy my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, ‘No hablo ingles.’Ronnie Shakes
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