Comedy in terror

suicide bomber cartoon

I remember the first time I heard about a suicide bombing where two men were riding together in the suicide vehicle. I was befuddled: why would you have two people on a suicide mission when it only takes one to drive the car? I find it hard to believe that a suicide bomber would need a navigator or someone to keep him company on his death mission. Even for people who find life so dispensable, I would think they would at least see the worth of two potential suicide bombers carrying out two missions instead of one.

That particular incident was years ago in Israel. Two guys in a van blew themselves up and caused a bit of damage, but they didn’t manage to kill anyone else. And I found it funny. I mean really deeply funny way down in my belly. The sheer absurdity – I wish I could create that kind of humour, except without killing myself or anyone else.

And it happened again yesterday in Glasgow. Terrorism is not inherently funny, but two total fucking incompetent idiots setting their car on fire and badly burning themselves, whilst absolutely failing to achieve anything at all – that is deeply, absurdly, fucking funny.

Thanks for the laughs, assholes.


7 Responses to Comedy in terror

  1. Dane says:

    Oh good, I was wondering when somebody would bring this up. I thought I’d be the only one to find the humor in an incompetent suicide bomber – now if only I can use that to replace the ever-present Holocaust jokes in my head.

  2. Same Old A-Hole says:

    I will gladly help you control your Holocaust joke problem; just use one in my presence should we ever meet.

  3. Max says:

    I was going to leave this alone, but now I have to defend Dane. Asshole, trust me, there are appropriate times, places and audiences for Holocaust jokes. One of my best one-liners ever was delivered at Birkenau on my fourth trip to the Auschwitz camps. I was very careful with my audience – none of my students were around, obviously, and no strangers were within hearing. But black humour always has its place. I’ll tell you what I said when you get to Prague, and you can tell me what you think about it then.

  4. Dane says:

    Asshole, you remind me of most of my family – not that I’d ever crack a Holocaust joke around them. The particular kind of humor to which I’m referring has (as Max already said) its time and place. The time is almost never, and the place is almost always in my head. However, that doesn’t keep me from using it as a coping mechanism, as Jews have done for centuries – when in desperate circumstances (or studying intensely about them), resort to laughter.

  5. Same Old A-Hole says:

    I agree Dane; Jews have traditionally coped through the use of humor and I tend to think that people like Mel Brooks and others like him are funny specifically because of their lineage. Similarly, I would tend to think that only Jews would be allowed (or even willing to use) such comedic license.

    To me, though, the best humor comes in one of two forms, either as self-deprecation or as broad-based generality (aka “culture clash”). Black (er, sorry, African American) jokes are funny but slavery jokes are a little much (as close an analogy as I can create while simulataneously typing and watching my children). In other words Jewish jokes (What’s the objective of Jewish football? To get the quarterback) can very well be funny but jokes about the holocaust are not. As you and Max point out, there is a “time and place.” But, more importantly, there is an audience. If the audience has to be Jewish, in the case of the holocaust “joke,” well, then, it’s not so much a joke as it is, indeed, a coping mechanism. If only you and I think it’s funny, then it’s probably not all that funny (it’s the proverbial “inside joke”).

    I hate to get so technical about something like comedy but, well, that’s the way I see it.

  6. Max says:

    My audience at Birkenau was mostly not Jewish. But as the four of us had just finished touring an extermination camp, and all but one in our party had been there repeatedly as academics, they were close enough. And although they all laughed, they also chastised me.

    In a completely different context – some of the other best jokes have occurred amongst a certain 3 people – a Jew, a Muslim, and a Catholic – whilst the three of us worked together for the same company here in Prague. If you all get on and the give and take is all equal and no one holds anything back…

    The only time I got pissed off was when the Catholic made a hardcore, but still funny, Holocaust reference in front of other people, and of course they didn’t get our humour and they were horrified. But mostly he had just made himself look like an idiot.

  7. Clio says:

    Good Post. Can you email me back, please. Thank you.

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