Maxed Out 

Ingredients in the soup of history

By G.D. Maxwell

A basic formula for comedy, as the Reverend J. Michael Varrin reminded the packed house at Millennium Place Sunday night, is Tragedy plus Time. Knowing the formula doesn’t make comedy any easier; being funny is still a bit like corralling smoke or making a crushed beer can round again.

For example, the wit who quipped, "Hey, I hear Whistler’s having a lift sale… 10 per cent off." the day after the Quicksilver accident a number of years ago, was definitely not being funny. Come to think of it, I’m still not certain that one’s funny but maybe in another decade. Then again, maybe not. Some things, formula or not, simply defy humour. I’m not sure the Bush years in the White House will ever be considered a laugh riot, despite his frequent and tortured use of English as a foreign language.

By contrast – and being an equal opportunity denigrator – Canada’s own Gomery Inquiry is an immediate, almost daily laughfest. Even as it unfolds in real time, I understand David Mirvish has optioned the rights to Gomery: The Musical to play in his Toronto theatre at some unspecified time in the future. There is, of course, a walk-away clause in the event the public outrage over the Liberal’s pilfering of the national treasury is so great we actually lose our minds and elect Stephen Hapless and his cabal of jihadists to government since it seems likely their first order of business would be to outlaw humour altogether.

But pity poor Pauly Dithers. I mean here’s a guy who – against his natural leanings it would seem, given the drunken-sailor spending spree he’s been engaged in to prop up his tenuous minority – cut the heart out of national health care, made downloading costs onto the provinces such a popular idea the provinces, in turn, adopted it as a lifestyle, much to the financial horror of communities from sea to sea to sea, and generally did Big Jean’s dirtywork while being so completely kept out of the loop he didn’t realize the inner sanctum was filling its pockets with the money he was busy saving. While Alfonso the Bagman, Guité the Guiltless, Carle the Puppetmaster and the mysterious and threatening Mr. Choo Choo funneled tax dollars through Weepy Brault’s ad agency so fast he didn’t even have time to enjoy the flashy cars and hookers that came with them, while Big Jean was playing the statesman and collecting monogrammed golf balls, Mr. Dithers was left holding the empty bag and, if anyone could find them, seems to have had his own balls monogrammed with the unmistakable imprint of Big Jean’s shoe.

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