There was an episode of Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery” called “Make Me Laugh” years ago that featured a comedian, Jackie Slater, who couldn’t make his audience laugh.
Serling said Jackie was a comedian “whose aspiration is to collect funny bones and hang them on the walls of his life to hide the cracked plaster and yellowed wallpaper that is part of the interior decoration of failure.”
So, Jackie made a deal with the devil, of sorts. He asked a man in a turban, who promised miracles, to make people laugh at everything he said. The wish was granted.
Jackie’s audiences were overtaken with gut laughter at all his jokes. He became a star. In fact, people erupted in uncontrolled laughter offstage – when he wasn’t joking. He grew sick of the laughter and wanted it to stop. But it was too late.
I remember that episode for being both funny and tragic.
That’s about where Jussie Smollett is these days. He wanted more fame. He made a “deal with the devil.” He’s now suffocating on fame which, I’m sure, he no longer wants. But it’s too late. His hoax is how history will remember him.
After posting bail on Thursday, the contrast of Smollett’s reaction to the cameras could not have been more striking. He went from showering in glistening camera clicks on red carpets; to a mugshot; to making a beeline to his SUV down a concrete court sidewalk through a thicket of reporters. Their camera clicks must’ve sounded like gunshots.
It’s a modern-day Greek tragedy. But it was funny, too.
Charles Barkley and the online memes delivered that.
“America,” Barkley began in a pleading voice while co-host Shaquille O’Neal burst into gut laughter during TNT’s “Inside The NBA” broadcast, Thursday. “America … let me just tell you something: Do not commit crimes with checks. If you’re going to break the law, do not write a check. Get cash man!”
Barkley and Co. also got a kick out of how the Nigerian brothers bought the “mugging” equipment.
“Buy the face mask, rope and the thing in the same store? You think they wrote out that on the receipt: Face mask, rope, bleach? From the same store! They wouldn’t even go to three stores!” Barkley said.
The memes were brutal, too. There was one with Smollett’s face superimposed on Disney’s “The Lion King.” Jussie was “The Lyin King.”
Another meme was a parody of a Kaepernick-like Nike ad that read: “Fight back. Even if you paid them to jump you. Jussie Do It.”
Another Nike-Jussie meme read: “Belief in something. Even if it didn’t happen.”
I’m sure Smollett wanted to stop the laughter. I laughed. The Bible teaches us that it’s wrong to beat a man when he’s down (no pun intended), but much of my laughter was cathartic. The “reap what you sow” turnaround gave me a deep sense of relief that there’s still justice in the world – in America.
And this is where the not-so-funny part comes in – the real tragedy. While Jussie Smollett’s hoax was horrendous – where he connected an imaginary hate crime to imaginary white supremacists who were dripping with imaginary racism while wearing imaginary MAGA hats – it pales in comparison with the Trump-haters’ grander hoax that Donald Trump and his supporters are bigots, racists, and white supremacists. That hatred not only fueled Smollett but has created a “racial gap” that didn’t exist just a few short years ago.
Trump-haters have used twisted versions of history to cobble together the hoax that blacks are still being oppressed in 2019.
Day after day, they saturate the public discourse with vicious profanities; they bleach out the reality that America is the most racially tolerant nation that ever existed, and they threaten to put political nooses around the necks of anyone who believes that racism is no longer a debilitating problem in America.
Smollett’s hoax is small beans by comparison.
In a week when Smollett succeeded in getting more headlines than Trump, Trump-haters used “buts” and “however” to drag him into the hoax story. Ironically, “woke” comedians were some of the worst.
“If it turns out the attack was staged, that is disgusting,” writes comedian Billy Eichner. “… But don't give me any bulls**t about MAGA supporters being the victim here … a bunch of white supremacists falsely accused of inspiring a crime is STILL a bunch of white supremacists. They have poisoned the soul of our country and the world and their crimes against humanity will be felt long after we’ve forgotten about Jussie Smollett.”
“What Jussie Smollett is accused of is despicable,” writes comedian Hari Kondabolu on Twitter. “However, don’t forget that we believed he was the victim of such a horrendous hate crime because it’s the type of thing that happens way too often, especially in the Trump era.”
“It’s interesting [that] when you use hatred and bigotry and lying for your own selfish ends and you’re a young, gay black kid, you get indicted, “said comedian D.L. Hughley to Chris Cuomo. “[But] if you do it when you’re an old white guy, you become president.”
Folks, where are all these white supremacists poisoning the soul of the country and the world, and the horrendous hate crimes that are happening “too often”? They don’t exist. It’s all a hoax. It’s only real because they say it’s real. That’s our real tragedy.
Trump-haters have become like Jackie Slater: Collecting cheap race-baiting trophies and hanging them on the walls of their lives “to hide the cracked plaster and yellowed wallpaper that is part of the interior decoration” of political failure.
But wishing away laughter was not the end of Jackie’s sad story. He later ran into the man in the turban on the street and begged him to help him make people cry. To test whether his wish had been granted, Jackie ran across the street to tell a joke to a lone flower vendor. While crossing the street, he was hit by a car and killed. The flower vendor walked up to his lifeless body and cried.
Democrats and leftists who conjure up the hoax of race resentment should be careful what they wish for. Already we’re seeing signs that the race monster they’ve created is becoming much more than they can handle.