aired Jan. 31, 2015 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: http://youtu.be/9h85v4ZV3lY
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of February 1st, 2015.
(sings) Letters, I get letters. Actually, I don’t get letters. I get emails and tweets and instant messages and the occasional bomb threat. And while it’s true that people only write to you for two reasons: to complain–or it’s your birthday—either way, I am happy to be acknowledged and on the radar, so to speak. It’s like an actor: you can get great scripts or you can get Vin Diesel scripts; it’s all good . . . until the phone stops ringing.
Well, my proverbial phone has been ringing off the proverbial hook, so I thought I would share some of these messages with you, my proverbial congregation. Now, I was terribly broken up last week by the death of Joe Franklin. Legendary talk-show host, magnificent New York character, and more than a passing acquaintance of my good friend Dave, who hosts the Dave’s Gone By radio program, of which I assume you are familiar. Joe came to my stage show, “Shalom Dammit!”, when it was at the Roy Arias Theater in Times Square a couple of years ago. Joe stayed through both acts, he applauded, I think he was eating a tomato—but he did not throw it—and he said very nice things about me and my performance.
But even if he hadn’t, there will never be another like Joe Franklin, who carved out his niche—which sounds both erotic and painful—and made a life in show business for seven decades. I should only be so lucky. I’m already so short.
So in the spirit of Joe’s eccentricity and sly obliviousness, I took to Twitter and wrote this message: quote, Joe Franklin was a legend, and I’m proud that he came to my stage show, “Shalom Dammit!”. Then, after the show, we both raped Sarah Silverman.” Unquote.
I know, shocking. How could I possibly fit all that information into 140 characters on Twitter? But more to the point, how could I make a joke about sexually assaulting the best-looking Jewish comedienne since Totie Fields still walked on twos? So a lady wrote to my Facebook page to opine that, quote, “Rape is not a joke punchline.” I guess she never met Bill Cosby. “I love your posts,” the woman said, “but this one is VERY OFFENSIVE!” She put that in capital letters, I guess because she knows my eyesight tends to fail right in the middle of messages. Very thoughtful. She also worried about, quote, a backlash against me and this radio program.
Thank you, ma’am, but in order to have a backlash, I first have to have a lash. I don’t have enough followers for an eyelash!
But seriously, for those of you, like this worried woman, who thought my joke was off the grid, you do have to keep in mind that it was Sarah Silverman who started the ball rolling in the first place. She was in that movie, “The Aristocrats,” where all these comedians tell different versions of a long, scatological joke about a showbiz family and their disgusting, depraved, sick and kinky exploits . . . basically the Palins. So Sarah Silverman is in there, and she does her own twist on this twisted joke, one that implicates Joe Franklin by name, accusing him of sexual molestation. Cue the giggles.
To be fair, Joe didn’t find it funny, and he contemplated suing her for defamation of character. Joe’s friends and colleagues reminded him that she was just kidding, and he should lighten up, and that, really, he had no character. But seriously, the rape joke was hers, she put it out there, making it fair game for my tweetmaking.
Which does point to a larger issue: the idea that rape is never funny and can never be funny under any circumstance. Same with the Holocaust, 9/11, retarded people and Nelson Mandela. If you’re like this woman who wrote to me, you can’t possibly find anything amusing, ever, about any of those four things: Holocaust, 9/11, retards, Mandela. If you’re like me, you’re already picturing a retarded Nelson Mandela trying to fly a plane into the World Trade Center, but he’s brain damaged so he crashes into Elie Wiesel’s house by accident.
Anything and everything is fair game depending on time, context, delivery and audience. When Michael Richards used the “n” word at that comedy club years ago, he wasn’t wrong for trying; he simply misjudged the material and the crowd. I use the “n” word in my sermons all the time, and everyone laughs and laughs. Except the janitor.
But moving on to my next letter, this one comes from Marie, an elderly lady in South Florida, or, as I like to call it, Israel East. Marie is responding to my Rabbinical Reflection about the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo magazine. Says Marie, quote, “I couldn’t agree with your comments on Islam more. The Paris thing makes me sick. I don’t like Charlie Hebdo, but I don’t think one should kill someone for cartooning.” Unquote. One time I came close with “Ren and Stimpy,” but I got over it.
Marie goes on to say that “People don’t know history! They act,” she says, “as if Israel went to battle to take over the West Bank instead of being attacked. The problem goes all the way back to the Middle Ages, when the Muslims tried to take over the world. They made it all the way up to France until they were stopped in the Battle of Tours in 732.” Personally, I thought the Battle of Tours was 1965 when the Rolling Stones were trying to out-sell the Beatles, but I digress.
“Why is it,” writes Marie, “that in Paris, the Jewish Museum has to have antechambers and all sorts of protection, but the huge Arab Institute needs no protection?” Maybe it can’t fit the condom over the dome. “Why are we not hearing in the news,” continues Marie, “about Muslims from North Africa trafficking humans and, if caught on the seas, killing them?” I dunno, Marie, maybe because they’re not inadequately trained police officers.
And finally, says Marie, “If the Western World is so bad, why are all these Muslims here, or coming here? And why are we not hearing about the consistent, casual rapes by Palestinians in North England?”
Good point, Marie, although I’m not sure what a casual rape is. It’s like, “Hey, baby, I kinda wanna rape you, but, you know, no strings, and I don’t want you to wake up in the morning and feel weird about it. And for god sakes, don’t tell my friends because they think I’m still raping my ex.”
Oh no, oh no! I made a rape joke. Which, for some people, renders me worse than those who are out there actually committing such crimes. Sorry, but no comparison. And besides, if unwanted sexual advances are never funny, how come when I pull down my pants at night, my wife starts laughing?
Thank you, by the way, for your letters and comments, which you can send to email@example.com, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me on Facebook at Sol Solomon, or twitter me at RabbiSolSolomon or, best of all, leave me alone; I have a deadline for a fan fiction piece I’m writing about Mayim Bialik being violated by Prince Andrew. It’s hot . . . and funny.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
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