An Englishman, a Welshman and a Pakistani arrive at a London hospital to pick up their newborns. The doctor comes out and says, “I am terribly sorry, but the paperwork was mixed up, and we do not know which baby belongs to which father, so each of you must choose a baby.” The Englishman (being English) announces he will go first, then picks what is obviously the Pakistani baby (punchline at the end).
The best weapon against authoritarians, bigots, and socialists of all stripes is humor. The “woke,” with their speech codes and oppression of free thought, are facing a revolt — not from people with guns, but from comedians.
Jewish comedians were responsible for much of the decline in commonly held antisemitism in the last century, particularly those who were able to obtain wide exposure with the rise of television in the 1950s and 1960s.
Jack Benny had a radio and TV show for many years — which some of you may be old enough to recall or have seen the reruns. Benny played a miserly Jewish businessman being endlessly upended by those around him. One of his classic routines was for a robber with a gun to come up to him and say, “Your money or your life!” Benny, with perfect timing and expression, stood without saying a word until the impatient robber again said: “Your money or your life!” To which Benny replied, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” People laughed no matter how many times they saw it, in part because it fractured a stereotype. But the subtle message was how could you possibly hate someone who was so self-deprecating and made you laugh so hard?
I went to graduate school in New York and taught at one of the universities. Many of my colleagues were first- or second-generation Italian, Irish, English, Polish, Eastern European, Indian, Chinese and Jewish Americans (different than the largely homogenous WASP schoolmates I had experienced in my home state of Florida). They would tell funny ethnic jokes, usually about their own nationality. What I noticed was rather than increasing bigotry or stereotyping, it did just the opposite. The fact that all could laugh at the foibles of their own people brought them together as each could identify with the others — a true melting pot. Being from more recent American families, they appreciated the country in ways that many of my early peers took for granted, and as a result, most of them worked very hard, demanding excellence of themselves. They were seeking equality of opportunity, not of result. Skin color was irrelevant.
Indian Americans (from India) have the highest median annual household income ($152,141) of any ethnic group, while native-born American Blacks ($48,297) have the lowest. Asian Americans have much higher median incomes ($100,573) than native-born White Americans ($74,932). Many Indian Americans have darker skin (they come in all shades) than many American Blacks (who also come in all shades). The idea that preferences should be given or denied on the basis of skin color can be characterized only as grossly stupid.
Stereotypes are the source of much humor, but they change over time. The following joke was a staple of conference speakers 40 years ago and never appeared to offend, but it would probably be banned from many colleges now, even though the current generation may not recognize the old stereotypes. “The difference between heaven and hell: In heaven, the French are the chefs, the Germans are the mechanics, the Italians are the lovers, the English are the police and the Swiss the administrators. In hell, the English are the chefs, the French are the mechanics, the Germans are the police, the Swiss are the lovers, and the Italians are the administrators.”
Comedians have always checked the powerful — even though it was often dangerous to make fun of the king. Socialists of all varieties, including the “woke,” are particularly humorless, even though the people they rule have not lost their sense of humor. President Ronald Reagan collected jokes told by people in communist countries, a couple of which he told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Much humor on TV has suffered as the traditional late-night comedians became leashed mouthpieces for the Democratic Party. But then politically incorrect comedians emerged, such as Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais and others. Perhaps the most influential (and funny) comic commentator at the moment is Greg Gutfeld of Fox News. Mr. Gutfeld knows almost no limit when going after the pompous, hypocritical political, Hollywood and media class. Mr. Gutfeld has a highly rated one-hour program on weeknights and appears on “The Five” most days, giving him considerable airtime. His sidekick, who uses the stage name Tyrus, was a champion wrestler — but breaks every stereotype. He refers to himself as the “big Negro.” A giant of a man who looks like someone you would not want to meet on a dark night — yet is verbally quick and funny, irreverent, knowledgeable, and often sounds like a conservative/libertarian. Fox News, perhaps identifying a winning formula, recently gave the libertarian-leaning and funny Jimmy Failla his own show.
The country may be saved not by the political class but by “woke”-destroying, free-speaking comedians. And now the punchline to the opening joke. “The doctor asks why, and the Englishman replies, “One or the other must be Welsh — not welcome in my home.”
• Richard W. Rahn is chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth and MCon LLC.
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