Words by: Luke Hickey
I’ve always felt, as a fan and practitioner of it, that one of comedy’s biggest strengths as an art form is its ability to hide grains of wisdom in something that’s first priority is to make you laugh. To be able to take a point of view, hide the seriousness of it with some yuks and giggles while simultaneously making that perspective salient to an audience is, to me, the real gift of comedy. And unfortunately, it takes events as horrible and chaotic as the ones experienced in Paris today to truly understand how necessary that outlook is.
The Onion have previously articulated this better than I could I ever hope to. 2 weeks after the September 11 attacks, a special 9/11 print edition of the news satire outlet was rolled out, featuring headlines such as “Hugging up 76, 000%”, “God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule”, and “American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie”. My favourite one out all of these, and the article I felt best exemplifies the malaise we all feel today, was a brilliant piece entitled “Not Knowing What Else To Do, Woman Bakes American-Flag Cake”.
‘Feeling helpless in the wake of the horrible Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed thousands, Christine Pearson baked a cake and decorated it like an American flag. “I had to do something to force myself away from the TV,” said Pearson, 33, carefully laying rows of strawberry slices on the white-fudge-frosting-covered cake. “All of those people. Those poor people. I don’t know what else to do”‘
And now we’re all Christine Pearson again. Concerned, but powerless.
Oddly, that’s the way it should be. No one knows any concrete info yet, but I’m sure when the Who, What, Where, Why and How of the Paris attacks come out it still won’t matter that much to me. Not to say these details are unimportant, but would it really make me feel better? Would knowing make me any less scared and confused? Probably not.
I’m gonna sound real True Detective-y here, but people have fooled themselves into thinking they are individual parts rather than the sum of a whole. We’re all people, in the same way a tree is the sum of its branches and leaves. One leaf doesn’t really affect the destiny of the tree it sprouts from; it blows helplessly in the wind, and sees other leaves doing the same. This is the only way I can describe how I feel in the wake of these attacks. It’s knowing that I am just as subject to horrible things happening as people in Paris, or Sydney, or Lebanon.
And there’s nothing I can do about it. The problem with trying to stop terrorism is how do you punish or deter someone who is completely unafraid to die. If someone wants to take himself out and me along with him, realistically there’s very little I can do to stop that. That’s why I’m going to live out today like I planned to yesterday. I’ve had my brief reflection on what an awful, meaningless tragedy the Paris attacks were, and now I’m gonna go down to the Beaufort Street Festival and hang shit on my friends. I can’t think of a better way to resolve this feeling of uneasiness than slinging a “nice kicks, dickhead” to a member of the tax-paying public. Might even get a nice day-drunk buzz going too. Because I don’t know what else to do, except say C’est la vie. I hope everyone else is, too.