EVEN IF FAT NIXON this week shamed the USA and our whole hemisphere by contorting himself extravagantly to be able to kiss three consecutive dictator butts – Russian, Saudi, North Korean, in that order, and with a s***-eating grin all over his face – it’s still been a great week because I collected two contenders for the Funniest Thing I’ve Seen in Years within 24 hours of one another.
The first came in a South Park rerun on the Comedy Channel. The animated series based on the lives of eight-year-old boys was created by Trey Stone and Matt Parker, two of the funniest people on the planet and, while its kindest fan would have to admit its humour is adolescent, scatological, often offensive and doesn’t scale the philosophical heights of their Book of Mormon stage show, it consistently provokes a high ratio of belly laugh-to-runtime.
And I got one of the best in Good Times with Weapons, episode one of season eight. In it, the boys buy real ninja weapons and are transformed, in their own imaginations, and also on-screen, into glamorous Japanese animé incarnations of themselves. In the scene that made me almost lose an internal organ with laughter, Cartman has to rescue Butters, South Park’s major minor character, from his position on a stage in full view of a large audience of adults.
Luckily, Cartman has claimed the power of invisibility. His dashing, Japanese animé image takes off his ninja clothes and hands them to Stan. The viewer sees Cartman’s fat footprints only in the sand, as he leaves the group of ninja boys and creeps, ninja-like, on to the stage.
When he gets to the stage, though, what emerges from television stage right is the regular, South Park standard, deliberately crude cartoon image of the naked little fat Cartman, clumsily-that-would-be-stealthily moving directly across the front of the stage, as he crosses the TV screen.
Through immaculate pacing and genius editing – a series of cuts from Cartman’s self-assured naked creep across the stage to the open-mouthed audience in their chairs, who, clearly, can see him, despite his confidence in his power of invisibility –the director milks the scene for everything it’s worth, even although it is a cartoon,.
And what it’s worth is howls of laughter, intensified every time you replay it; which I did four times. It repays searching on YouTube– “Cartman’s invisibility power naked on stage” – at least by aficionados of the show. (My wife, e.g., a woman of great discernment, despite her taste in men, just doesn’t get South Park, and stared as dumbfounded and silent as the audience watching Cartman the Ninja in the episode.)
But Cartman naked in South Park was as nothing, compared with Ivanka Trump, equally starkly revealed, equally oblivious of her own complete nudity-to-all at the G20 summit. Her video clip is shorter than Cartman’s but longer on laughs.
You are hardly likely to see 19 more personally devastating seconds this year – perhaps ever – than those in the video released by the French government of the first daughter-wife in Osaka. Only the most brainless of entitled ruling sector bimbos (and the husbands who buy them their ersatz prestige) will fail to cringe at a piece of cinema that could have been staged by Roger Deakins, the Coen Bros cinematographer, to reveal how miserable a misfit a character was.
Ivanka approaches a group comprising Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, French President Emanuel Macron, British PM (still, for the moment) Theresa May and IMF Chair Christine Lagarde; you have to be supremely confident – or supremely spoilt – to sidle up and attempt to insert yourself into a conversation at that level, if your only qualification to take part is that you’re a powerful man’s daughter.
To make her pain even more exquisite, subtitles have been added, so the viewer who can’t make out the words still understands precisely how feeble she is. It rivals Cartman’s scene in South Park for pure hilarity.
Or, at least, it would – if it didn’t also reveal everything about the superficiality of our age and the complete absence of the American leadership we’ve taken for granted in the Caribbean since World War II.
South Park offers belly laughs based on adolescent male, toilet & fart jokes; the current American presidency offers gallows humour based on the harshest reality we’ve lived. Laugh from the belly. While you can. For up to 19 seconds before the truth hits you in the gut.
BC Pires is bitterly aware that Laugh & Cry live in the same house.