Looking for laugh in all the wrong places…by Tom Sumner

Looking for laugh in all the wrong places…by Tom Sumner

Saturday, 27 May 2017
Blog Posts

Comedian Lewis Black was asked where he gets his material for jokes. He replied “what jokes? I just read the news.”

For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to find the funny. I stayed away from the news. Big mistake.

The Tom Sumner Program weekly round table ARMCHAIR POLITICS alumni includes “resident cynic” Barry Simon. It was on his recommendation that I watched a movie from 2006 called “Idiocracy” written and directed by Mike Judge (“Beavis and Butt-head”/”King of The Hill”).

Idiocracy” is the story of Private Joe Bauers played by Luke Wilson. He is the definition of an “average American.” He is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes five centuries in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed down that he’s easily the most intelligent person alive. The fictional futuristic President is a former professional wrestler played by Terry Crews.

Idiocracy” is supposed to be a futuristic sci-fi comedy, but the joke is on us. Judge’s satirical future is already here.

There’s no water cooler in The Tom Sumner Program studio. That doesn’t stop water cooler conversations from popping up between interviews, features and musical performances. Some of it actually makes it on the air.

For example, when Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette was “on duty” attaching his name to a group promoting an end to “smurfing.” (See previous blog “Smurf’s Up”) It resulted in out loud laughter.

I like a good facebook meme as much as the next person. But few, if any, make me laugh out loud. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed as many laugh out loud moments as I have this last week.

Let’s start with Flint’s 1st Ward City Council member Eric Mays. Mays has made lots of news with sidesplitting antics real and rumored. There was his arrest for impaired driving when it was alleged that he was arrested while trying to change one of four flat tires facing the wrong way on I-475.

Mays has been in the news frequently for arrests and/or law suits for being disruptive during Flint City Council meetings before and after he became a member. He was featured in a recent facebook video lecturing protesters at City Hall on decorum.

But the most recent and peculiar episode in the life of Eric Mays alleges that he pawned a city issued laptop computer as collateral for a $100 loan – until payday. Mays claims he doesn’t use the computer, but an investigation is being launched to determine if there was any sensitive city business on the machine and if any laws were broken.

I’m sure there are many people who are appalled and might be considering moving to Montana. I prefer to find the funny. I can’t help wondering if any of the “city’s sensitive business” on the computer is as funny as the people elected to conduct said business.

What little I know about Montana would qualify me for a role in the movie “Idiocracy.” I never gave much thought to Montana. There was the Frank Zappa song about moving to Montana to be a dental floss tycoon and the occasional reference to people moving there to join militias or get off the grid.

Montana made the news this week.

The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat, Greg Gianforte, has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting: “Get the hell out of here.” He won the election by the way.

People are pointing out that 40% of the votes had already been cast by absentee voters. But poll voters interviewed seemed very forgiving.

Meanwhile, half way around the world…the President of the United States and former reality TV star Donald Trump was captured on video shoving the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside for a photo-op. What’s not funny about that?

It would be easy to blame the President for the current state of “idiocracy” in America. Or we could point to the “fake news” media for spotlighting the worst in people. Even still, we could look at ourselves for not demanding better.

The “buck” doesn’t stop with the President anymore, and the spiral toward idiocracy didn’t start with this President. It may, though, have had at least as much to do with his election as the Russians allegedly had.

I grew up in Flint, Michigan. That’s not to say that idiocracy started here. But it was certainly present here long before Councilman Mays, Congressman Gianforte and President Trump.

Once upon a time I was a little boy.

There was a ritual in our house. My dad would come home from work, recline in his chair and watch the evening news while waiting for dinner. Yeah, it was kind of like “Leave it to Beaver.”

One night I saw the Mayor on TV. Seeing the Mayor on TV was not unusual. But he was wearing handcuffs and being led out of the once prestigious Durant Hotel downtown by law enforcement officials as part of a gambling raid. Even as a young boy, I thought that was pretty funny.

I don’t think Flint was ground zero for idiocracy or if this was early proof that society was dumbing down. I do think it helped prepare me for the slippery slope we seem to be on intellectually.

I don’t know if we can ever “put the toothpaste back in the tube” intellectually, but here are a few lessons learned from these recent events…

  • Don’t get between Donald Trump and a camera
  • Don’t loan your laptop to Eric Mays
  • If you’re a politician, don’t beat up reporters
  • If you’re a reporter, don’t go out of your way to make politicians look stupid. (They don’t need any help and they might knock you down.)

Like all those people who look for love in all the wrong places, I’ve been looking for laugh in all the wrong places. Like love, a really good laugh turns up when you least expect it.


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