It is sad that Ringling Brothers, Barnum, & Bailey will be closing for good this coming May. I have personally gone to the circus and enjoyed the spectacle under the big top (though actually in arenas) about fifteen times, first with my parents and then with my own kids. I loved the elephants, the wire-walkers, the lion tamers, and I laughed at the clowns. And now that will no longer be possible. I have gradually lost more and more of the most important things in my life as I have gotten older. I lost mobility with arthritis. I have lost financial security through health problems. I have lost the ability to do the job I devoted my life to and so deeply loved. And now I can no longer laugh at the clowns.
The problem is not that there are no clowns left, even though most of the greatest ones, Emmett Kelly, Bob Keeshan, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and the man who played Bozo, have all passed on. The problem is not that my kids are afraid of clowns, scared to death of people who aggressively get right up in your face while theirs is covered with grease paint (especially since my kids are now grown and can sock the clown in his painted mush if he gets too close). The problem isn’t even that the clowns are not funny any more.
The problem is that the Clown in Chief has killed the laughter. He has become an agent of instability and chaos. When he is mocked brilliantly by Alec Baldwin on Saturday Night Live, he has to mount a tweet storm on Twitter and uses his limited twit-wit to angrily denounce and threaten and belittle instead of laughing at the jokes as other politicians like the current President and Vice President have graciously done, even sometimes using self-deprecating humor to get in on the jokes themselves. Even notoriously humorless political clowns like Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin have more grace in ignoring mockery and smiling at insults than this Great Orange Face that we put in charge of the country’s most serious business.
The ability to laugh at oneself is a very serious thing. When the whole “golden showers” business made it into the national debate, this manic moron did not make it seem mere political hum-buggery by laughing it off. No, he got deeply offended and defensive, the same way a person who is actually guilty of the accusation would react. So, if it is not true, the Crybaby in Chief has only bolstered our belief that it is most probably true. As ridiculous as the accusation sounds, you have to admit that Trump’s behavior in the past makes you at least entertain the possibility that it is a true thing that he has done.
And now, he has over-reacted again, this time to the very real concerns raised by Congressman John Lewis, an honest-to-God civil rights hero, with cruel and crusty criticism that lowers my respect for Trump as well as lowering all future expectations. The man isn’t even sworn in yet, and he has already shown such bilious badness in his character that I truly dread living in this country under his rule.
I am a man who lives to laugh, and laughs to live. That is how I overcome the things that bother me as well as the things that hurt me. I use laughter as medicine, not as a weapon. And I hate to see the viruses in our society that I have always been able to inoculate myself against with humor become totally drug-resistant in that way.