CSotD: In praise of silly stuff

We’ll lead off with the National Cartoonists Society winners from yesterday’s virtual convention, which, by the way, was a really good idea. The more you can bring in fans, the more you motivate them to continue being fans.

And, as DD Degg has noted, the whole shebang is perserved on YouTube and he’s posted the schedule there so you can jump to the parts you want.

Whatever happens with the pandemic, I’d like to see the YouTubing continue.

Here are the awards that fell within this column’s aegis, none of which are strangers here:


Pat Bagley won the award for editorial cartooning. All political cartoonists have hot streaks and cold streaks, and you’ll see some appear here frequently for a time and then not for a while, but Bagley is both consistent and thought-provoking.

This one was in the queue before the announcement of the award, and I’d point out that he manages to make his accusation strong, in the first place, by listing the potential ethical and legal violations of the current administration, and then by giving Barr a mafia-style job title.

Then he drives his point home graphically, taking advantage of Barr’s natural basset hound expression to indicate a stolid loyalty that shows no emotion and thereby implies no ability to apply ethical values to his assigned task.

This approach might have worked with John Mitchell, but he’d have had to take an entirely different tack if the AG were still Jeff Sessions. This is skillful stuff.


And Napoleon was right that there is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous, at least here and now, because Dave Blazek won newspaper panels for Loose Parts, and it is his Dare To Be Dumb style that makes this feature stand out.

The award is comforting because it signifies that I’m not the only person who likes silly jokes and sees how very clever you have to be to come up with them.

Hipsters look down their upward-tilted noses at puns and “dad jokes,” but Isaac Asimov wrote ridiculous limericks and James Joyce peppered his complex work with puns and silly jokes and, if that’s stupid, it’s better than being smart.

Bearing in mind that it was Chatsworth Osbourne Jr and Sonny Drysdale who were the butt of jokes, and Maynard and Jethro who became stars.

Bottom line: If you don’t get it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t funny.


And then there’s Pickles, which earned Brian Crane the nod for newspaper strips, and this one from Friday pretty much explains why so many readers love this strip. To go back to that TV sitcom reference again, Earl is like Jed Clampett: Uncomplicated but wise, even when he’s not quite up-to-date on what’s happening.

It’s not to say that clever strips are not also good: Wallace the Brave and Bizarro often demand cultural literacy and a little mental parkour. But here’s the secret: You’re allowed to like a variety of things, and it’s possible to be a fan of both Segovia and Doc Watson.

You’re even allowed to enjoy completely foreign forms of humor:

Yuxtaposición del día/Päivän rinnakkaisuus



(Dark Side of the Horse)

When I lived less than an hour south of Montreal — and back when Canadians would let us into their country — it was fun to go up to Juste Pour Rire each year, catch a few shows in clubs and theaters and dig the buskers on the streets.

The difference being that the club shows were standups like Jeff Foxworthy, Scott Thompson and George Wallace, or francophone comedians whose humor would have come faster than I could translate, while the humor in the streets came from overseas, where language wasn’t part of the gig and the laughs came from a different place, often involving unicycles, magic and slapsticks.

Macanudo is from Argentina and Dark Side of the Horse is from Finland, and both bring that language-neutral style of wit that you’d see in the streets of Montreal in October if they’d let you up there.

More reason to add them to your comic menu down here.

Okay, let’s have a political

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Bob Gorrell)


(Dave Granlund)

Grandlund is speaking specifically of reports that the Trump campaign has spent most of its promotional funds already, and perhaps not wisely: He also notes that Biden is cruising along nicely.

Meanwhile Gorrell pushes the established theme that Biden is declining to campaign, but both suggest that he’s happy to glide.

That “Biden in the Basement” storyline is part of the “Biden is senile” theme being pushed, with the president now claiming that Joe must be taking drugs, since it’s increasingly obvious that he isn’t senile, that he speaks quite clearly and that he even jogs while Somebody Else waddles.

Familiar stuff, but here’s something else familiar: Trump is again playing the media for free air time and thereby shutting out his opponent, just like he did in 2016.

And this time he’s got a bigger bullhorn, because he can call a Presidential Press Conference, speak for five minutes about presidential stuff and then go off for another hour campaigning.

Some of the news stations break away, some don’t, but none of them seem to be disrupting their normal schedules to broadcast Biden campaign rallies.

Someone remarked on social media that, when a few blocks of Portland, Oregon, were aflame, the networks couldn’t get enough of it, but now, when entire villages are burnt to the ground in Oregon, the reporters all seem focused on California.

In both cases, I would remind you not to attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

Though the end result tends to look the same.


Back to Comedy!

Since Pardon My Planet specializes in social commentary, it’s not a place I look for silly puns, which added a dollop of surprise to enhance today’s joke.

It also added an earworm, but a pleasant one I won’t mind carrying around the rest of the day.

Here’s the well-known English version:


And the original Brazilian folksong:

12 thoughts on “CSotD: In praise of silly stuff

  1. “In both cases, I would remind you not to attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”

    Never grant incompetence when you are being hurt by malice. And we are all being hurt by this malice.

  2. Yeah, those are some real groaners, Mike. My favorite kind of humor. I’m surprised you didn’t use Weird Al Yankovich’s “Dare to be Stupid” for the video.

  3. Answering two comments: I wrote “stupidity” first but changed it to “incompetence” because the people making these dubious coverage decisions are intelligent enough to make good choices.

    It’s not even the Peter Principle of people promoted to their level of incompetence — it’s more complex than that. There may be greed at a higher level that creates the lack of resources (primarily personnel), but greed isn’t stupidity, either.

    The fascination with shiny objects has many parents, but very few of them are stupid, which makes it more frustrating, because you can forgive someone who genuinely can’t do it right.

  4. Maybe you should have substituted “stupidity” with “greed”. They aren’t really incompetence just because they don’t do the job they way they should but they are competent is dismantling the system.

  5. I used to believe that stupid people could never be educated. That’s not really true; I’ve met many highly educated, reasonably competent people who were incapable of understanding even the most basic of moral concepts. Since knowlege is a function of memory, all one needs to do to appear competent is to remember what one’s been told. Education does not imbue one with a conscience. Trump and his people are not really stupid or incompetent; they know exactly what they’re doing. We call them stupid because we believe that they cannot see the consequences of their actions. They can see them, they just don’t care. This is the defining feature of narcissism; complete selfishness, and a total lack of concern for others. They’re not stupid or incompetent. They’re evil.

  6. Perhaps. But the topic is media assignment directors, not Trump supporters or Trump staff or Trump himself.

    The issue is why assignment directors give Trump so much free airtime.

  7. Because it guarantees an audience. Folks/Fools always stop to gawk at train wrecks. It takes courage to be the one to say, “enough”, and stand by that decision, when one is bucking the
    POTUS, such as he is. (Sigh)…Maybe he’ll say something important.

  8. You’re right, Mike, I conflated media assignment directors with Trump. Not that it’s hard to do, since they are joined at the hip. As Mr. Smith noted, it’s all about the money, and always has been with cable news. Decades ago, I wrote a college term paper about how the lines between the news media and the entertainment media were becoming blurred. Those lines have been completely obliterated today. The news IS entertainment now, and politics have become America’s newest spectator sport. Remember the movie “Network?” In so many ways, dark satire has become reality.

  9. My dad used to tell me fairly regularly about the process that people undergo when exposed to others with different views. The first thought is that people that disagree with you don’t have enough information. If only they knew what you knew, they would understand that you’re right. When that line of thinking inevitably fails, we think that they’re stupid. Clearly they don’t have the mental capacity to put two and two together like I can. The third and penultimate thought, the one that occurs when all others fail, is that your opponents (because that’s what they are at this point) are evil. They’re wrong, how t they don’t care, because they’re out to get you. This comment section has progressed through each of these. The final step, and the one that my dad always stressed the importance of reaching, is acceptance. Sometimes people are just wrong because they’re wrong, and attributing that to some perceived flaw or malice does a disservice them and your conversations with them.

  10. Sorry, Mike, my conscience dictates that I respond to this one. Mr. Faerber, it isn’t just a question of different views; to see it as such is moral relativism. The torture of children at our border, the 200,000 (and counting) unnecessary deaths from Covid, and the corruption of our system of justice are not simply different points of view, they are consequences of action, or lack thereof. In America, we have the right to different points of view; we are free to think what we like. We are not free, however, to do as we like, and some truths are objective and universal. Causing others to suffer and die for one’s own personal gain is evil by any measure.

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