Be patient, this will get political.
The late Red Skelton was my father’s favorite comic. Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca from “Your Show of Shows” also broke Pop up.
Early stand-ups I remember best were Steve “Well, Excuuuuuse Me” Martin and the tiny (5’7″) frenetic Robin Williams. Both were, once upon a time, hilarious. Martin eventually turned into a more interesting actor than comic and just became a new father at age 67. Williams’ current jumping around, at least a decade past AARP eligibility, has become, well, slightly embarrassing. A lesser-known comic, Sinbad, was laugh-out-loud funny, but I’ve lost track of him lately. David Letterman is holding up well at 65.
Still funny, committed and gay, Ellen remains a great natural comedian and the Stewart/Colbert combo unleashes the sharpest and funniest political punditry of our time. Younger and funny include Daniel Tosh, the Tosh O. of Comedy Central, Tig Nataro, Mark Normand and the truly funniest stand-up of this generation you’ve never heard of, Ron Funches. Find him!
For my taste, eclipsing all the above is humorist David Sedaris, equally at home in front of a radio microphone, on stage or in the pages of a book or article.
Oops…I lied. There is a cluster of people out there who are unintentionally a 100 times funnier than David and the entire roster I just put together. They’re members of a unique and somewhat crackpotish and easily bought clique called Congress. Take the gun issue for instance.
The most laughingly subservient to the gun lobby, by a large margin, are the Republicans, though the unlikely enabler of empty gun legislation, who labored long and hard for the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, is a very high-profile Democratic Senator, Diane Feinstein.
Feinstein, who apparently means well, introduced a feckless bill in January banning 157 specific firearms. Incredibly, Feinstein includes 2,200 exempted guns, some of which are virtual clones of firearms on the banned list. The Feinstein bill includes limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds yet, a number of the exemptions include magazines that accommodate a hell of a lot more than 10 rounds. The Feinstein explanation for the exemptions, in her words, was to “make crystal clear” that the bill would not effect hunting and sporting weapons. A vote on the bill is pending.
The takeaway is that here are the 2,200 guns you can still legally use to kill just about anybody. The bill is shamefully naïve, stupid, ineffective and wholly irrelevant. And the so-called “ban” doesn’t take effect until the final version of the law is passed. Until then you can load up on semi-autos. Cynics suspect the legislation is a reelection ploy that will give constituents cover that something is being done while nothing is being done. And the cynics would be correct.
The original 10-year assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 exempted 600 or so firearms. This latest junk legislation is proof-positive that the gun manufacturers have won the battle of gun ownership and ongoing gun slaughter in the U.S. The NRA and Wayne LaPierre get all the heat, but they’re just puppets of the real villains, the gun manufacturers who feed money to the NRA and Super Pacs at election time to defeat gun control candidates, no matter how moderate. Credit President Obama for trying, but a Republican House and even well-meaning Democrats like Senator Feinstein have rendered his efforts moot.
Any Representative or Senator who will stand by in impotence after a fellow Congressperson, Gabby Gifford’s was shot in the head, losing a tragic percentage of what made Gabby, Gabby and can ignore the brutal extinguishing of 20 six and seven-year-old lives and tailor subsequent legislation to gun manufacturer specs sure as hell isn’t worth even the tiniest scintilla of respect.
But, we can’t sit and do nothing so I’ve come up with a plan. I’ll need the help of the First Ladies favorite designer, Jason Wu and the likes of Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, red carpet favorite, Marchesa, Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld and up and comers, stylist turned designer Rachel Zoe and by way of Project Runway, Christian Siriano, not to mention the venerated House of Versace, whose founder, Italian designer, Gianni Versace was shot dead in Miami Beach in the prime of his life in 1997.
Facing the irrefutable fact that Congressmen and women are terrified of the gun lobby, voters from the gun nut right and most importantly, though never stated publicly, the fear of being shot dead, we must now take protective measures as if we are living under a state of siege, which in fact we are. And we must seek comfort in the world of fashion. Simply stated, all clothing worn at home (domestic violence) at work (going postal) on the road (road rage) and in public (anywhere) must be lined in some manner by a form of body armor. It could be metal, ceramic, Kevlar or perhaps soon, spider silk.
Gun-protective clothing and armored vests are not new concepts. The politician who backs sensible gun laws has probably worn similar protection at gamy town hall meetings and other controversial venues. Soldiers and law enforcement wear body armor like a second skin. It’s a fact that police officers and sheriff’s deputies who refuse to wear body armor are 14 times more likely to be shot dead than their protected fellow officers. Entertainers have worn armor, as have diplomats and assorted government leaders here and abroad. Clergy and journalists have also armored up from time to time. There are even bulletproof backpacks for kids.
David Owen wrote in the September 26, 2011 New Yorker of a Bogotá, Columbia company that has gone all in on bulletproof duds. The company weds protection and style in featuring three-button blazers, V-necked wool sweaters, polo shirts and something called a Nehru vest (God forbid it’s anything like a Nehru jacket). There are also camouflaged armored hunting outfits in case you share a trail with Dick Cheney. Orders used to be virtually all from Columbia, now 98% of the business is for export.
Gucci, Coach or Louis Vuitton handbags could not only be lined, but could pull extra duty as Emergency First Aid Gunshot Kits. Vuitton could replace their iconic flower and quatrefoil symbols with stylish cartridges and derringers.
As a last resort, the citizenry could waddle down the street bedecked in 60 lbs. of Medieval metal-plated mail complete with helmet and hinged metal visor. The face-covering helmet would be a huge improvement for the likes of Mitch McConnell.
Bottom line, guns are no laughing matter. The preventable killings will continue until unreasonable people in Congress and state legislatures are replaced with reasonable people in 2014 and for generations thereafter.