Saturday, November 09, 2013

Deconstructing Trudeau's China "Joke"

American writer E. B. White once said, “explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process.”

Maybe that's why I can't get anyone to explain to me the humour of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's so called "joke" about admiring the efficiency of communist China -- no one wants to kill it. 

But I'm a little more callous so I've decided to dissect this joke myself, just so I can find out what makes this Trudeau knee slapper supposedly funny. 

Call me overly curious, but I really want to know why so many media types believe Trudeau's comment about expressing admiration for a brutal dictatorship was meant to be hilariously comical.

To be honest, I just don't see it and believe me, I want in on the joke because laughing is fun!

Now before I pick up my scalpel (don't worry since I'm cutting into a joke it's a just wacky clown scalpel) let's give a little background to the story.

Earlier this week, Trudeau was speaking about how much he loved the "middle class" to a group of upper class Toronto women.

At one point during the proceedings this question was asked: “Besides Canada, which nation’s administration do you most admire, and why?”

That question triggered the "joke" Trudeau's apologists assure us was intended to be a side-splitting zinger.

Here's what he said:

"You know, there’s a level of of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say ‘we need to go green fastest…we need to start investing in solar.’ I mean there is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about of having a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted that I find quite interesting..

OK, let's get to the gory part and start slicing this quip into separate pieces to see what makes it tick.

Here again is the first line: "You know, there's a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say `we need to go green fastest ... we need to start investing in solar"

So you laughing yet? 

Me neither. Nothing in this statement is even remotely funny. All it is is a guy talking about how dictators have an easier time of getting stuff done. And they do. That's because they don't have to worry about picky little things like democracy or human rights or the rule of law. Anyway, it's odd that a party leader would say something like that, but jocular? Sorry, it doesn't even make me giggle. (Mind you, I do concede the idea of investing in solar power is somewhat amusing.)

So let's move on the last line, which, since the first line was so dull, must contain the full power of Trudeau's whimsy: "I mean there is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about of having a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted that I find quite interesting."

Ha, ha, ha, that's hilarious ...wait ...no it's actually just confusing. 

Help me out here, what does Trudeau mean with this statement? Is he saying Harper wants dictatorial power like they have in China? I guess so, but if that's the joke, Trudeau's previous line makes no sense. I mean, he just got done saying he admired China's system, so where's the punchline in saying Harper might admire it too? 

I'm no (old guy alert) Bob Hope, but shouldn't the joke have gone a little something like this: 

"China's regime is brutal, repressive and anti-democratic, it reminds me a lot of the Harper government!"

OK so that's not exactly comedy gold, but at least it has a logical construction: a set up line and a pay off punchline, which is more than you can say for Trudeau's comment.

In fact, my analysis seems to prove that Trudeau's joke doesn't seem to be a joke at all.

And to be fair, it's the media, not Trudeau, which is using  the "It's just a joke defence"  which suggests the Liberal leader really does admire the Chinese dictatorship.

To me that's funny, but not ha ha funny.

10 comments:

garret seinen said...

Sorry Gerry, you got it wrong....the media is the joke.

Anonymous said...

Makes sense to me but the folks over at the Toronto Star are still laughing?

ed callway said...

Check out video 8. Whether left wing pinko flower child, or abusive right wing crack head, evidently Canadian politicians have problems talking about that place south of Russia. Occidents will happen...
http://www.blogto.com/city/2013/11/the_top_10_rob_ford_videos_of_all_time/

Mark Bourrie said...

I don't know what it was, but he wasn't joking.

Rod Croskery said...

JT was speaking to the elephant in the room, the expectations created by the media storm before the speech.

Critics had screamed for two days about how he would talk down to the women present about his hair. JT threw the critics a curve when he dropped a bombshell just for mischief, tossing a bone to our Chinese trading partners and taking a shot at Stephen Harper's authoritarian tendencies at the same time.

The gambit may not have worked, but it showed that Trudeau's like his father in his impatience with idiots.

Ian Porter said...

The immediate response to Trudeau's China comments are a bit kneejerk. There he goes again, the narcissistic clown...delighted with his own verbal whimsy.

On the other hand, everybody is talking about him again. Those little-given to critical thinking about politics 18 months before an election may simply register that despite all the attention to the Ford epic, this other guy is still in the news.

Maybe there is method to this madness?

Canajun said...

And of course you never buy anything Made in China so their "nasty and brutal regime" doesn't benefit from your capitalist dollars.

wilson said...

The Cons attack ad pegged Trudeau,
he's in over his head.

Spencer Bardell said...

You know that the frog was already dead, right? Otherwise you are just killing frogs and not learning anything.

“But if I were to reach out and say which…kind of administration I most admire, I think there’s something to be said right here in Canada for the way our territories are run,” he said.

Cytotoxic said...

Rod Croskery gets an A for ability to delude himself.