The coronavirus is no laughing matter, but it matters that we keep laughing.
When Passover arrives next week, we’ll have to edit our Hagaddahs to read, “Why is this night, day, next several weeks and months different than from all other nights, days, next several weeks and…” — you get the point. Coronavirus, please, just pass over already.
As I’m writing this, Michigan Gov. Whitmer is officially announcing our state’s “Stay at Home” order. Had she announced this prior to Feb. 2, would that have prohibited groundhogs from emerging from their burrows to see their shadows? An “attempt” at some levity. Too soon? This leads me to my “State of Humor” address.
There’s absolutely nothing funny about people who’ve contracted the coronavirus and, in worst-case scenarios, are fighting for their lives. There’s nothing funny about the economic pain it has inflicted, the lost jobs, the educational disruption or a senior who languishes alone in a care facility.
Usually we abide by the old adage, “Tragedy plus time equals comedy.” After traumatic events like 9-11, we build in, albeit subjectively, an adequate amount of time before infusing humor back into our daily lives. But today we are in unprecedented territory for comedy.
The sheer number of jokes, YouTube videos, memes, etc., relating to the coronavirus I’ve received on my computer and smart phone is proof that the normal unwritten rule of “too soon” for jokes edict has been lifted. And within reason, that’s OK. Of course, there’ll always be some who take it too far.
The virus has created a void in many of our usual day-to-day go-to sources for comedy. Production on Saturday Night Live is on hold. Every late-night talk show has shut down. So naturally we are turning to other forms of comic relief.
I have two groups of breakfast buddies, who, now that we are self-quarantining, are reduced to texting each other rather than eating with each other. The chain of communications has included interesting, humorous and even irreverent discussions about how you can turn bras and yarmulkes into face masks.
Then there’s a new genre of humor that has taken the country by storm … toilet paper jokes! Perhaps you’ve seen the photo of a toilet paper holder that has been resupplied with an infamously long CVS receipt. A YouTube video is making the rounds of a guy pulling up in his car to a shady “drug dealer” type character looking to score a toilet paper deal. I saw that and couldn’t wipe the smile off my … face. (See what I did there?)
A Facebook post suggested replacing a word in your favorite movie titles with the words “toilet paper.” I don’t believe I’ll be able to find any of the following On Demand…Dances with Toilet Paper, ET: The Extra TP, Gone with the Toilet Paper, The Toilet Paper Chase, The Silence of the Toilet Paper, The Wizard of Toilet Paper and Yankee Doo Doo Toilet Paper — Doodle, sorry.
The coronavirus is no laughing matter, but it matters that we keep laughing. While your Passover table and finding the afikomen will no doubt be reduced to a virtual FaceTime experience, please take the time to add a funny bone next to the shank bone. From there, just take it dayenu by dayenu.
In the meantime, I’m preparing to watch one of my favorite Passover-time movies — The 10 Commandments. The question is, this time when the Lord says unto Moses: “Go to Pharaoh and tell him thus saith the Lord, God of the Hebrews, let my people go,” will they have enough toilet paper? Hey, that happened, give or take around 1400 BCE, so that joke is not too soon!