Viral humor, literally: Heard the one about a new band -- Rage to Get the Vaccine?

March 17, 2020, 7:58 PM by  Alan Stamm

It's not too soon for coronavirus quips, and hasn't been for about a week. 

A global pandemic isn't funny -- but if we can't laugh, the virus wins. So a dark humor reflex kicks in as cancel culture gets a whole new meaning. Here's one from an LA filmmaker and comedy writer:

Late night TV funnymen grab easy pickings:

  • Jimmy Kimmel says the virus, "as you know, was started by Netflix to get more people to watch more of their television."

  • Stephen Colbert says: "It's only March, and 2020 has done the impossible: made me nostalgic for 2019."

  • At "Wheel of Fortune," Jimmy Fallon jokes, "things are so bad Vanna is now turning all the letters with her elbow."

Guy Branum, a standup comic from West Hollywood, has a question: "Are we supposed to be singing 'Happy Birthday' to the virus or to our hands?"

And from San Francisco:

A Nashville pastor imagines an episode of "The Office:" 

Even an idled Boston Celtics center takes a shot: 

Occasionally, a joke cuts so close to reality it generates a don't-believe-it debunking from Snopes, which posts that Mike Pence didn't propose conversion therapy to combat coronavirus. The truth-checking site helpfully explains that the claim is "a reference to Pence’s past support for institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior."

That's funny too, actually.

When the Coachella music festival was postposed from April, James Corden cracked on "The Late Late Show:"

"Rage Against the Machine has already changed their name to Rage to Get the Vaccine.

"And that's not the only musical act that plans to be in Coachella in October. You can also count on Miley Virus, Justin Fever, the Flu Fighters, Pandemic! at the Disco — we got like a hundred of these. The only band yet to confirm is the Cure."

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter strikes a timely pose. (Photo: Twitter)

Some one-liners are as profound as they are wry. "We will become more aware of space and less aware of time," writes Washington Post reporter Dan Zak.

Other Post coverage frames gallows humor as an "utterly human" reflex:

It’s common for people to laugh at terrifying subject matter. Jokes often attempt to take something scary and make it seem harmless, said Peter McGraw, director of the Humor Research Laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder. That transformation lightens the mood and strengthens people’s ability to cope.

They’re making jokes to not panic even "as they buy 48 rolls of toilet paper and engage in a tug-of-war for the last package of waters," McGraw said.

Ah yes, the TP hoarders -- ready-made for sarcasm. Honolulu Star-Advertiser guest columnist David Shapiro savors "the powerful control of having enough toilet paper in your garage to blanket your neighbors' houses with it for the next five Halloweens."


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