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Humor Banned to Fight COVID-19 Misinformation

Trump Catches Melania Watching Cuomo BriefingBudding pranksters, you’re on notice. Humor is verboten today. The world is on lockdown, fighting a global pandemic. Late night comedies are off the air. Nothing is funny. You, over there, wipe that smirk off your face. In Thailand, an April Fool’s joke could get you five years in jail. “Don’t lie,” wrote The Nation Thailand in a tweet yesterday. Likewise Germany, India, and Taiwan have warned against jokes today.

The President Got the Message, Liberals Didn’t

In preparation for this somber day, the U.S. President gave a very serious briefing on COVID-19. No more mis-infotainment from him about how the virus “will disappear like a miracle.” Nope. Yesterday was super serious. Even the New York Times noticed, saying that he “struck perhaps his most somber tone on the subject to date.”

But alas, the notoriously liberal New Yorker magazine did not get the memo. It still has cartoons and a humor section. Andy Borowitz is still cracking jokes and writing satire. Doesn’t he know that satire is dead? Must not laugh or cause laughter.

Which reminds us – has anyone ever proven causality in the relationship between jokes and laughter? Think about it. It might just be a lame presumption.

Google Gets It

In prior years, Google has devoted a lot of effort to creating elaborate April Fools’ Day jokes. Not this year. An internal memo warned everyone in this tech giant:

Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one.

We’ve already stopped any centralized April Fool’s efforts but realize there may be smaller projects within teams that we don’t know about. Please suss out those efforts and make sure your teams pause on any jokes they may have planned — internally or externally.

So it’s official. Laughter is not the best medicine. That designation is reserved for unproven treatments of COVID-19. No irony intended.

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April 1, 2020

2 Responses to “Humor Banned to Fight COVID-19 Misinformation”

  1. April 01, 2020 at 7:53 am, Joe Gitchell said:

    Thank you, Ted — I agree that we should not put away humor. Though I do try to be more thoughtful about its application.

    For folks who want to learn a bit more about laughter, I cannot recommend this TED talk from Prof Sophie Scott more hightly:


  2. April 01, 2020 at 10:38 am, Lizabeth Wesely-Casella said:

    I make lots of jokes about feeling stabby and how that relates to confinement & marriage. You’ve met my husband, how could I NOT??