I don’t laugh at jokes. I don’t mind jokes and I do laugh. But I laugh at other things: attitudes, sounds, references, situations, timing. Laughing is my signal of playful intent and since for me play is best unstructured, try as I may, damned if I don’t laugh at jokes.
I appreciate slapstick and double take — Buster Keaton, Daffy Duck, Stimpy, Belusi, Charlie Day — and I laugh at stupid when the timing is right. Which, or course, brings me to my homebase, Orange County, California — a place that can be very stupid. With its excess of SUVs, nutwing politicians, anti-Muslim protests, Tea Party patriots and Obama monkeys, Orange County is always good for a laugh. Not due the monkeys, but the people who make them. Let me elaborate:
In September of 1986, I walked a gauntlet of monkey-makers. They held American flags. They spit at me. They called me a communist and a Jew. They shouted, “Turn on the ovens.” I don’t think they were excited about baking cookies.
The scene was hot and twisted. Veins bulging on their necks, ugly hypertensive humans were screaming hateful things at me and my friends. We were being heckled by a Ralph-Steadmanish crowd of monkey-makers because of our relationship to “The Other.” I’m sure you’ve heard with “The Other” — also known as those who the monkey makers demonize and dehumanize because they’re unfamiliar with them.
The monkey-makers who called me a communist and a Jew (as if) were what I’d characterize as conservative. Now, I’m not saying that all conservatives are screaming monkey-makers. However, these conservatives had an unpleasant group of adjectives attached like “reactionary,” “ill-mannered,” and “dimwitted.”
Cerebrally speaking, it is said that liberals have a higher volume of gray matter in their anterior cingulate cortex than "conservatives." The anterior cingulate cortex, in case you’re wondering, is active in helping humans cope with and sort through uncertainty. Conservatives, on the other hand, have a higher volume of gray matter in the right amygdala region which is active in helping humans identify and respond to threats. It would be safe to assume that the dimwitted conservative monkey-makers who were screaming at me had extremely obese right amygdala. Their lopsided brains interpreted me as a threat because I had written a speech welcoming the Nicaraguan baseball team to Irvine. At the time, the Reagan White House was busy trying to overthrow the Sandinista led government in Nicaragua, but it was baseball for Christ’s sake — a happy middle ground for the citizens of all countries. The speech had just been delivered by then-Mayor Larry Agran to the visiting ballplayers and their coaches right before they were scheduled to play Cal State Fullerton, a team that, just a few years before, had won the College World Series. Agran spoke about peace, love, understanding and the harmonic convergence created by a ball and a bat. Everyone who heard him seemed very pleased. All was splendid… until we stepped outside.
There, we were met by the monkey-makers who were intent on demonstrating their excess of right amygdala brain mass. They began screaming. They bared their teeth. They kept referring to themselves as Americans and us as Un. From my perspective the view was both frightening and hilarious. It all seemed out of context. I felt threatened, yet somehow filled with sense of Burlesque — a childlike awe at the ridiculous thought that the monkey-makers could get so worked up about a Nicaraguan baseball game. And so, I laughed.
When events like these occur in Orange County, the general population acts as horrified if they’ve never seen such a thing. As for me, I’m just amused. Although, Orange County is one of their prime habitats, the monkey-makers are everywhere. And it looks like we may be stuck with them fir while. Trouble is, they tend to lack any sense of self-effacing humor. There’s really no way to communicate with them. They’re one-dimensional metaphorically speaking. Which reminds of a joke I’d like to tell:
A dimwitted conservative visits a liberal proctologist for a digital exam. The liberal proctologist puts on his latex gloves, greases up and tells the dimwitted conservative to bend over. The liberal proctologist inserts his finger into the dimwitted conservative’s rectum and begins exploring. Deeper and deeper he goes. Then, without warning, the liberal proctologist pulls a bouquet of flowers straight out of the dimwitted conservative’s ass. “Oh my God,” says the dimwitted conservative, “Where did those come from?” “I don’t know,” says the liberal proctologist. “There’s no card.”
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