I was combing through aggregate sites for the usual news of the impending apocalypse — you know, war, famine, death and disease — when I came across: “A proposal to include feminine hygiene products during Tennessee's annual sales-tax holiday faced resistance Tuesday from lawmakers concerned about the lack of limit on such purchases.”
Legislators in an American state do not want to give a tax break to tampons and pads and other menstrual products because they fear that women might buy too many of them. And just like that, the laughter came. Can you imagine the curse of vile females falling prey to their greed and addiction, hoarding tampons like cigarettes and illicit drugs to overdose on and sell on the black market? Because clearly that’s what we would do with a basic human necessity unless someone wiser and preferably not in possession of a uterus was kind enough to protect us from our weak selves?
This is how the world is foundering. Not just through the spread of super-epidemics but by sheer, mundane, patriarchal and hysterical stupidity. And it is very, very dark, and very, very funny. And also, rejuvenating. As with all things, this revelation came over a piece of news so small and bizarre that it just recharged me.
The first quarter of 2020 seems to be taking its time in terms of news. We are barely into the second beat of the year and I honestly can’t keep up. Heads of States are dying, every day brings news of ways in which our information technology is being turned against us, there are rebellions, the environment, always President Trump, and on, and on. Rich, very rich pickings for commentary. In fact, perhaps too rich: for a while now people have complained about the deluge of information, much of it grim, and what to do about integrating that safely into life. The answer came to me over a short and unexpected break. The best filter is laughter.
Dave Chapelle had this to say during his acceptance speech for the Mark Twain Prize earlier this year: “We had a real oral tradition in our house. I knew the word “griot” when I was a little boy. A griot was a person in Africa who was charged with keeping the stories of the village. Everyone would tell a griot stories and they would remember them all so that they could tell future generations. When they got old, they’d tell them to someone else and they say in Africa, when a griot dies it’s like a library was burnt down, and my mother used to tell me before I ever thought about doing comedy, she said, “You should be a griot.”
So he became a world-famous, prize-winning comedian who now sits during his acts, smokes cigarettes and tells intensely personal and powerful stories that expose the bones of the matters of everyday life, and power, and humanity. I offer you this: in this 21st Century in which we have managed to confuse ourselves with all our information, by all means watch the news. But seek the truth in the jesters, for they shall tell the king the real thing, and making us laugh does reduce the poison in the sting. It was true then, it is even truer now.
Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report. E-mail: [email protected]