In one of Hamlet's many famous speeches, the melancholy Dane declares, "I have
of late, though whrefore I know not, lost all my mirth." So it seems has the
collective temperament of America. Modernhumorist.com hasn't posted new
material in a week. Neither has theonion.com or mcsweeneys.net. On Monday
night, David Letterman returned to the air a changed man. His famous "nothing
is sacred" wit failed him. As it turns out, something was sacred, after all.
He and Dan Rather held hands and cried. Craig Kilborne likewise announced
that, for the moment at least, he planned to park his trademark smarm and give
earneastness a chance. And has anyone head a peep from Conan?
The question has come up: Is Fly on the Wall, a column typically laden with
cheap shots, sight gags, and sophomoric satire, appropriate at a time of
national mourning? Perhaps not. On the other hand,the best laugh I've ever
known was in response to a story delivered by the minister at my grandfather's
funeral. The story went something like this: The preacher and my grandfather
were sitting in the town square conducting a civil conversation wihen a car
sporting "Yankee" tags pulled up. "Say, just how long has this town been
dead?" the driver asked. My grandfather looked him right in the eye and said,
"I don't know -- you're the first buzzard to show up."
At a time when we have been called upon to be superhuman, it is imperative
that we remember we are all too human. Whether righteous or wrongheaded, we
will make our share of manure, and where there is manure, there too is the
pesky Fly. We will continue as best we can.