May 25, 2019

LAUGHINGSTOCK:

Iran calling: How Iranians use humor to cope with Trump (Reza H. Akbari May 24, 2019, Al-Monitor)

[M]edia reported that the White House had provided a phone number to the Swiss Embassy -- America's protective power in Iran -- in case Tehran wants to call to ease the tensions. This reportedly prompted hundreds of prank calls to Switzerland's diplomatic mission.

Popular Iranian animator Soroush Rezaee, who publishes under the brand SooriLand, made a short clip of Trump being awakened by the proverbial 3 a.m. phone call. In the clip, the phone rings in the middle of the night, and Trump sits up, exclaiming, "It's the Iranians! They finally called!" But when he picks up the phone, the voice at the other end, adding insult to injury, attempts to sell him a hair-loss treatment. Consecutive callers try to sell the president things, including a vacation package. After a few more calls, Trump laments that his leaked number is in the hands of Iranian telemarketers.

An Iranian Twitter user posted an imagined conversation between Trump and the first lady, in which Trump tells Melania, "Stop talking on the phone for so long, maybe [the Iranians] will call and get a busy signal!"

The Trump jokes are typical of Iranian political humor -- a form of resilience. Despite the tumultuous history of the Islamic Republic, there has always been room for jokes. During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, arguably the most harrowing period for Iran in recent memory, the population coped with the grim realities of war with jest and humorous anecdotes. A well-known self-deprecating joke goes as follows: A field radio operator sends a message to headquarters, reporting that he has captured 5,000 Iraqi soldiers and that the Iranian military should come and get them. The base replies, "Why don't you bring them yourself?" The operator replies, "Well, they won't let me leave!"

But nothing beats the esoteric, family-specific war experiences, which are often impossible to share with outsiders. I never laugh harder than when my family shares their funny war memories, but when I repeat them to non-Iranian friends, I get a polite chuckle at best. Perhaps the English author David John Lodge was right when he defined a nation as "a group of people who laugh at the same stuff."

All comedy is conservative.

Posted by at May 25, 2019 6:40 AM

  

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