Friday, March 23, 2012


David Frankel is a teacher now working in a community college in Colorado. He has given permission to circulate this hilarious essay.

June 7, 2015


Secretary of Comedy R.N. Dukowsky announced the passage of the administration’s signature comedy reform initiative, “No Audience Left Behind” (NALB). “This comes in response to our nation’s ongoing comedy crisis,” Secretary Dukowsky said. “For most of our history, American comedy has been the envy of the world. In the past several decades, however, American comedians have been falling behind their international peers. While we still score highly in ethnic humor and political satire, our performance in the basics – especially married-couple jokes and family-based situation comedy – has fallen to near the bottom of the pack compared with other developed nations. Unless we improve, we are a nation at comedic risk.”

In response to this crisis, the federal government plans to move aggressively. “The government has been conducting long-term studies of Best Comedic Practices,” says Secretary Dukowsky. “We have found that there is enormous variation in how our comedians are trained. There are no national standards; no set repertory of means and methods; and, most of all, no quantified structure of accountability. As a result, we see enormous variation in the nation’s comedic performance. While New York City and Los Angeles seem to perform robustly on international exams, in Utah and Idaho, audiences are chronically ‘left behind.’ We cannot tolerate that sort of achievement gap.”

The centerpiece of the new proposal will be a regime of standardized testing “with real carrots and real sticks,” as the secretary puts it. “Every year, every American comedian will have to demonstrate proficiency in core comedic competencies. Did you know that there are some comedians who show almost no utilization of pratfalls and fart jokes? Others who know nothing of under-deoderized frat boy humor? Even some well-regarded practitioners have shown a tendency in public performance just to ‘do what they think is funny.’ It would be irresponsible of us to let that continue. It is time for American comedy to become data-driven.”

Some American comedians expressed confusion about certain aspects of the plan. “They want us to tell the same jokes in every venue?” said Shecky Dangerfield, a standup veteran. “Those bar mitzvah gigs are gonna get a little blue.” Others questioned other aspects of ‘best comedic practices.’ “Before the show, we’re supposed to put all our punchlines up on a blackboard,” said Phillippa Diller. “I’m a little worried about the element of surprise.”

Secretary Dukowski, as well as the heads of the Gates, Walton and Broad Foundations, who are heavily funding the new program, dismissed these questions as “bureaucratic inertia.” “A lot of people are used to doing things the old way, and we know the old way doesn’t work,” said the secretary. “Every day, some Americans are going into comedy clubs and not laughing. Every day, some Americans’ humorous potential is not being developed. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” As Bill Gates put it at the same press conference, “We are attempting to bring expertise from outside the world of comedy in order to enhance its productivity. Most comedians are not familiar with psychometric measures and do not have a well-developed business model. The answer is to tap the dynamism of America’s most successful business leaders.”

Next week the administration intends to roll out “No Sibling Left Behind” to reform the nation’s parenting practices. In the words of White House Press Secretary Lorna Givens, “We’re very excited by the opportunities that can be created by data-driven parenting. Stay tuned.”

No comments: