When is 'Too Soon'?

About the ongoing struggle of those who make people laugh.

When is 'Too Soon'?

For no less than four decades, I’ve been doing my best to put my money where my mouth is. Unfortunately, sometimes that can mean I need to wrap my money around my foot. Not because of any bad nail-biting habits or strange fetishes, but because I pair frank speech with candy-coated commentary to deliver a meaningful message.

Timing is everything, and I can assure you that if I know the iron is hot, it’s my policy to strike immediately. But when the iron is a terrible tragedy, and striking is a humorous piece of oral literature punctuated by a punch line–well, that timely joke could be subject to severe sanctions.

I’ve been in plenty-a-business meeting and plopped a one-liner just as everyone was starting to feel awkward. I’ve shifted the mood with a little irony at funerals and festivals alike. I’ve set ‘em up, and I’ve knocked ‘em down. Since the beginning, I found that a merry heart does good, and listeners listen better when listening is fun. You can pluck weeds and plant seeds, but it’s a lot easier after softening the ground.

Life can be funny though. Sometimes you’re the joker, and sometimes you’re the joke.

I’ve been on the receiving end of my fair share of ridicule as well, but it hasn’t phased me too much, because you can’t dupe the duper anymore than you can cape the caper. And while you can jest the jester just as much as the next guy, I’m no stranger to a jolt of reality.

My catch has been 22’d and my quag has been mired as much as anyone's. But such is life. That’s why Alanis Morissette said, and I quote, “Isn’t it ironic?”. She knew that life is filled with enough negativity as it is. And we should just take that as a given.

As Cary Elwes said in The Princess Bride when he was playing Westley, who was playing The Man In Black: “Life is Pain. Anyone who says any differently is selling something.”

Despite the great wisdom of the ‘not left handed either’ swordsman, many refuse to accept the reality of the situation that is life, avoiding the truth to hold on to an imagined happiness. We can think of pain as anguish in which to wallow, or we can think of pain as simply the irony of life. Something to be laughed at, then faced head on.

You see, everyone is looking for happiness, but most people will only find what their itching eyes will let them see. But the thing is, in life, it's a lot like looking for your phone. Most of the time, it’s in your hand.

Me, I’m more a fan of the Dave Chapelles of the world. Those who, despite attempts to cancel him, continue to thrive. The type who if you pull your hand away from the cancel button long enough to hear his full message, proves to be better advocates for the cause of his critics than the critics are for their own.

I’m a fan of telling the truth in a way that people can stomach. I like getting into the weeds but asking you to pull my finger while we’re at it.

Let me expand on this with a personal story. Apparently, someone who has been subscribed to my content for a period of months has never been a fan of me.

I’ll share with you they/their comments (removing all gender identifiers to protect the innocent/guilty). After sending an email featuring content addressing the war in Ukraine, rife with predictable humor, a reader responded with a chiding remark, and I quote:

“You’re not funny.”

Obviously, you could say that was a low blow, but I didn’t take it that way. I took it as welcomed feedback. I said, “I take your point as friendly criticism and worthy of reflection.”

I’ve never been a fan of taking things so seriously that content is more politically correct than it is factually correct.  I’ve also never been much of a fan of satire, that is, fake news that is intended to be fake, despite my appreciation for its usefulness in ridiculing the completely ridiculous while entertaining the reader.

This was not the only comment I received. I also received several others, including people using phrases like “thought provoking”, “good writers take risks”, and “thank you for this”. One of these comments was paired with the phrase (stated rather politely) “too soon?”.

Well, that is a good question. Is it too soon? I mean, after all, one of the world's most evil people has enacted some of the evilest acts on innocent people. But we can talk about Donald Trump another time. First, let’s focus on Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. With treachery like this taking place, is it really time to be making jokes?

No. It is not.

In fact, it’s always time to be making jokes. Because life is pain, and just like the great people of Ukraine, we will not let pain take from us our freedom.

The fact that the world's greatest hero for this moment in time is a comedian should tell you something about our collective need.

I can tell you with confidence that the world needs more people like President Volodymyr Zelensky. People who will stay put when things get tough, despite grave loss and personal risk. People who will sit and laugh with their countrymen in a bunker rather than on the other end of a 60-foot table.

We need people who will put on an army green T-shirt and a helmet when it suits the situation better than a black suit and a comb-over. We need people that will lob a joke at the President of the European Central Bank on Twitter, scoffing at him for the apparent inconveniences of his busy schedule fighting a war.

We need people who will keep our spirits up when times are tough.

And we need them to remind us that life is pain, and we can laugh it off while shouting expletives at our enemies.

When it comes to the content here on The Lorem Ipsum, I always think twice about whether I am making light of something that is very dark and deserves to be referenced with sobriety. When I reflect on this, I usually land in a similar place.

I believe we need good medicine, and some medicine is hard to swallow, but we need to take it nonetheless. Laughter, however, is the best medicine and that makes the former go down better.