Mel Brooks had it right. In a 2006 interview with Spiegel, speaking of his film “The Producers” he was asked if comedy was a way of getting revenge on Hitler. Brooks answered, “Yes, absolutely. Of course it is impossible to take revenge for 6 million murdered Jews. But by using the medium of comedy, we can try to rob Hitler of his posthumous power and myths.” The guy who nearly conquered the world became, well, just a short guy with a funny mustache and a really bad haircut. In 2012 Brooks told Salon, “I just thought the only weapon I’ve really got is comedy. And if I can make this guy ludicrous, if I can make you laugh at him, then it’s a victory of sorts.” It doesn’t lessen the horror or the reality of what happened, but it does make the memory of Hitler less powerful.
Last saturday night the Westboro Baptist Church was in Portland to protest at Moda Center over the Portland Trailblazer’s support of gay marriage (the first professional sports team to do so by the way). WBC protesters were met with a counter protest. Nothing violent just really, really…funny. There were signs proclaiming “Thor hates figs” “Zod hates Superman” and the like. WBC lasted barely 20 minutes and then gave up. A comment on Willamette Week’s website voiced that ignoring them would probably be more effective. I used to think that but this morning, reading the story, I remembered hearing Mel Brooks talk about Hitler and changed my mind. Usually I read stories about the WBC and my blood pressure goes through the roof because, well, those fuckers drive me crazy. This morning I looked at the “Thor hates figs” sign and laughed aloud.
Laughter makes it crystal clear how truly ridiculous they are. It’s hard to fear and laugh at the same thing. And laughter trumps fear every time.