Satire, according to the New Collins Concise English Dictionary, is described as occurring when “topical issues, folly or evil are held up to ridicule.” And also “the use of ridicule, irony, etc. to create such an effect.”
One of the readers of my column (or perhaps my only reader) recently wrote in complaining about me badmouthing Jean Crouton. She implied that I was picking on him because of his French-Canadian accent. (You know, “deh” for “the,” “dey” for “they.”)
Heavens! Doesn’t that woman know that I pick on Italians, too? (See my column from April 2002.) It was about an Air Europe flight from Milan to Varadero, Cuba, when the 250 passengers noticed flames coming from an engine in the left wing. The operating director of Air Europe told RAI television while having an engine in flames was unsettling, the problem did not endanger the flight. The passengers voted overwhelmingly to turn back. The pilot resisted flying back. I visualized a passenger warning him: “There are two 300-pound guys back dere who say thata if you don’t wanta fly the plane back to Milano, they will fly the plan back to Milano and they haven’t had a flying lesson in their lives.”
I had one person I met who said: “Frank, I read your column but I don’t believe it.” I said that I would be worried about you if you did.
I don’t discriminate. I am off the Christmas card list of a lot of people: Ernie Eves (always travel first class – when the government’s paying); his clone Mike Harris (never mind if nothing works in Ontario anymore, the taxpayers are saving money); former Ontario Premier Bob Rae (and NDPer-turned-Liberal and hungering to take Adrienne Clarkson’s job some day soon); Sheila Copps (while ostensibly a Catholic, she is more likely to listen to the gay lobby than the Pope); Henry Morgentaler (Morgy yawns and the media fawns); Bill Clinton (no matter what embarrassing hijinks he did, the press never saw him as anybody else but Wonderman); Jean Crouton (the elected king of the Hedonist Party, formerly known as the Liberal Party) and Joe Clark (why’s that guy sitting there in the ball park? Doesn’t he know the lights are off?).
Satire, my dear readers, is meant to entertain and enlighten. Sometimes that can be the only way for truth to get through the stinking morass of lies and obfuscation. Remember, you have to be an important and public figure to be satirized and they know that, too. Prominent politicians used to collect original cartoons that savaged them so they could have a good laugh. Lighten up.
Is there any politician in the world that I admire? Yes. U.S. President George Bush. If I could clone that guy I know just the job for him up here.
Satire is getting more difficult all the time. When I wrote a column saying that Queen’s Park was so under-used that former Premier Mike Harris thought of selling it to Wal-Mart, the next thing I knew they drilled an extra wide passageway right through the historic press gallery lounge in order that the police once in every 100 years could run upstairs to quell a riot of middle-aged people waving their fingers. Then they threatened to move the entire Queen’s Park press gallery up to the windowless fifth floor where they used to show obscene films for censoring purposes. Next thing we’ll hear is that Ernie is trying to move us to the Don Jail.
Recently, Premier Eves decided to ignore a hundred years of Queen’s Park history and announce the Ontario budget at Frank (“$58 million a year is not enough for a guy like me”) Stronach’s giant auto parts firm in Aurora. It’s amazing what Frank got for a lousy donation to the Ontario Tories. He bought the whole Ontario government. It’s hard to satirize that.
What’s funny is a matter of opinion, a matter of your age, sex, ethnic background, religion, occupation, hobbies and a host of other things. Drama and tragedy cross borders, but comedy doesn’t easily cross language barriers. But all jokes must have the element of surprise.
Here’s a joke that should turn on some of my old cronies. A lawyer appears before a judge. “My client would like to plead insanity.”
“Insanity? On what grounds?” asked the judge.