For someone who considers himself a humorist, we are not living in an easy time. And no, it's not just because "humorist" makes someone sound like a pompous prick who deserves to be chained to the inside of a septic system rather than be permitted to spout clever allusions to ancient history or painfully charming anecdotes about what some politician was overheard saying at the cocktail party celebrating the opening of the new celebrity drug rehab center, all masquerading as "humor" due to their complete lack of intellectual content. (As if humor were simply anything that's not serious.)
These are difficult times for two reasons. First, on any given day one chooses to make a joke, the thought of two skyscrapers full of people crashing to the ground has already entered one's head at least once. Somehow, the utter vulnerability of one's country and the threat of imminent death by maniacal religious assholes doesn't provide the most preferable fuel for cranking out wisecracks. And the act of silently repeating "or the terrorists will have won" like a mantra or a pep-talk from a bargain-basement motivational speaker just doesn't cut it. The words "we need to move on" or "we can't stop living our lives" doesn't seem to fully succeed in wiping away the permanent redesign of the greatest cityscape in the world. If the world was fucked up before September 11, it sure ain't Atlantis now.
The second reason these times are not conducive to humor, or even to human speech for that matter, is that everything worth saying is completely obvious.
"We need to kill the people who want to kill us."
Isn't that the only thing worth saying? How many times does it have to be said, and how many ways can it be said? If the deaths of 3,000 people doesn't cause some people to reflect on the state of the world and to identify the proper course of action for a free country to take, what words will do so? And what purpose do the words have when they are only comprehended by those who already agree? Of what value is a collective sulk-fest or bitch-and-moan session? We already have enough reminders of our potential demise. Do we need more, even if they're spun with a little wit? There is no place for a court jester in a war.
Or is there?