A Keane Sense of Humor
Snide Remarks #91
"A Keane Sense of Humor"
by Eric D. Snider
Published in The Daily Herald on January 21, 2000
The other day, while embarking on my daily vigil to see if "Family Circus" had suddenly become funny, I happened to see the front page of the newspaper. It said the Supreme Court is going to decide whether it's legal for the Boy Scouts of America to ban gays from its ranks. My opinion is: I don't care. What's the deal with all the knot-tying?
The Boy Scouts have been around for, I don't know, like a century or something, and they're certainly a grand institution. Many a boy has learned valuable skills on overnight campouts, skills like lighting things on fire, and swearing. But still, the thing people associate most with the Boy Scouts is the fact that if you join them, you'll learn to tie a lot of knots. Goodness knows I learned my fair share of them during my brief stint in the Scouts (1985-1985).
The thing is, knowing how to tie knots is like knowing how to use an abacus: It's nice that you can do this quaint old thing from a bygone era, but how practical is it? In real life, you need to know how to tie your shoes, how to tie a necktie, and how to tie your basic "tying-things-together" knot. That's it. Everything else is taking up valuable brain space.
This brain space could be used for other purposes, such as figuring out ways to make "Family Circus" funny. This is an important issue to me, because I'm a big fan of comic strips, and I feel very strongly that they should be funny. The only comic that was allowed to slide by on that requirement was "Peanuts," and that was only because it had been around so long and was so well-loved that everyone was able to overlook the fact that it hadn't produced a laugh in decades. "Peanuts" was the Bob Hope of the comics page.
All other comic strips, though, need to be funny, and "Family Circus" just ain't cuttin' it. The same goes for "Hagar the Horrible" and "Beetle Bailey." And if right now you're saying, "Hey, those comics are funny!," you're doing what psychologists refer to as "making a mistake." Those comics USED to be funny, back when they started. Now they're hardly worth the money it costs to buy a magnifying glass to be able to read them in the newspaper.
But I don't think "Family Circus" is beyond repair. I continue to read it because I believe that one day, purely by accident, it will be funny. It seems like if Bil Keane keeps doing it long enough, he's bound to do something funny eventually, even if it takes a thousand years.
But I don't want to wait around another thousand years. For one thing, I don't want to have to listen to people argue about whether the next millennium starts in 3000 or 3001. But more to the point, I'd rather laugh at "Family Circus" in my natural lifetime. Surely if we all put our heads together, we can come up with some jokes that would make it funny. Here are my suggestions; feel free to send me yours, and I'll forward them to Bil Keane.
â€¢ Dolly brings Mommy's diaphragm to school for show-and-tell.
â€¢ Jeffy asks Daddy, "What's an accident? 'Cause Mommy said I was one."
â€¢ A twisty-turny dotted line shows where Billy stumbled after getting into Daddy's liquor cabinet.
â€¢ The family gets freaked out by Grandma's frequent chats with her dead husband, and they put her in a home. ("Enough is enough!" says Daddy.)
â€¢ Barfy the dog gets "Old Yeller Syndrome," if you know what I mean.
â€¢ A little imaginary imp named "Not Me" goes around and puts hydrochloric acid in all the shampoo bottles.
â€¢ Sissy-boy Billy gets pummeled by street-wise Dennis the Menace.
â€¢ Social Services is called when a bleary-eyed Mommy tries to trade baby PJ for crack.
â€¢ It is revealed that the reason Billy takes over as cartoonist for a week every now and then is that Daddy's visiting his secret other family out in the country.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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