May 21, 2013
Mr. Fish in Conversation With Paul Krassner: The Politics of Being a Smartass
Posted on Oct 17, 2012
By Mr. Fish
Krassner: Lenny and I used to talk about this stuff all the time and his position was that people don’t like to be lectured at. He believed that if you [could] make somebody laugh with a joke that [had] some truth about society embedded within it, the fact that they’re laughing indicates that their defenses are down and that they’re more likely to consider the information you’re telling them. The joke makes it impossible for a person to guard against [the wisdom of the argument] you’re presenting.
Fish: Plus, if it’s a good joke then it will bear repeating to more and more people and the information can become viral that way. It’s like a catchy tune that you want to hear again and again.
Krassner: Right—I’m relatively jaded and if something really stirs me, either a contradiction or an absurdity or a horrible cruelty that has been euphemized, and that will set my EEG off, then I’ll want to create a satire that crystalizes that contradiction or whatever it is and I’ll want to share it with people. Then, if it’s funny, those people will want to share it too. It’s how The Realist grew. Steve Allen was the first subscriber and he gave a bunch of subscriptions to a lot of other people, including Lenny Bruce, and then Lenny sent out a bunch and the magazine really took off that way.
Fish: Of course, when it comes to the catchiness of tunes that people want to hear again and again, taste can sometimes trump nutritional value. There’s the two-step, but there is also the goose step.
Krassner: Right. Now that you mention it, I think Malthusian was the word they used to use before viral.
Fish: Of course—yesterday’s torture is today’s enhanced interrogation.
Krassner: And dead babies [have always been] collateral damage.
Fish: And, thanks to people like you and Lenny Bruce, “fuck the government” will always mean “fuck the government.”
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