Jesus, Buddha, Yahweh (aka Allah), the Pope, Zeus, Odin, and Mohammed walk into a bar…. You don’t hear too many jokes that begin this way.
Religious icons have been fodder for humorists, comedians, and novelists for centuries, even though a lot of the mockery has been underground until the 20th century. Good-natured a bad-natured humor directed at prophets and gods could, and often did, result in the death of the person so bold as to find hilarity in buffoonery of moral edict dictators. Religion, for the most part, frowned upon funny, unless of course, it was directed at heretics, apostates, infidels, or insurance salesmen.
Of the holy people listed in the opening sentence of this essay, the two that stand out as being the most humorless come from the Middle East: Yahweh (Allah) and Mohammed. Yahweh (Jewish), Allah (Muslim) is the same character worshiped by Christians, who called him God. In the holy books of all three religions, God is a pretty humorless, nasty character, a serial killer in fact. Early stand-up comedians found out quickly that making fun of God would get you and your whole family cast into a fiery pit or some equally appalling torture. Crack a joke, and God would fuck you up.
As time wore on, I think people got fed up with all the gratuitous violence that God had perpetrated or supposedly commanded to be perpetrated in his name, and decided to write a sequel to the holy book. It was called the “New Testament,” and it reinvented God into a more pleasant guy named Jesus. The Jesus character eschewed violence, liked wine, hung out with hookers, and wasn’t above cracking a joke or two. Nevertheless, after Jesus dies a particularly gruesome death, his followers started reverting back to Old Testament rhetoric, and the sequel ends with horrifying scenes of beasties, blood, and mass killings. Humor was one of the first victims of the last chapter.
People seemed to like all the mayhem and strict dogma of their old God and forgot about Jesus’ teaching. However, they formed a religion based on Jesus, and for a couple thousand years they seriously kicked the asses of anyone who dared jest about that religion.
Eventually, most of the Old Testament people and the Jesus people decided, “What the hell, we can take a joke,” and they stopped whacking people who made fun of religion.
A few hundred years after Jesus took his last bow, a new holy guy named Mo arrived on the scene in the Middle East. Mo proclaimed himself a spokesman for Allah and ripped off parts of the old holy book, added a bunch of new stuff, published it, and it became a best seller. The new book had a lot of nice and peaceful stuff, but also a lot of the same old kill, smite and misogynistic doctrine as the old book. (Gotta give the people what they want.)
After Mo cashed in his chips, his followers did pretty much what Jesus’ posse did, and put the scimitar to the scrotum of anyone bold enough to joke about their religion, which in this case, was known as Islam.
Followers of Mohammed (Muslims) and the followers of Jesus (Jesims) tolerated each other for a while, but had no sense of humor about it. Eventually, a Palestinian comic named Rasheed made one too many jokes at the Jesims’ expense, and Europeans sent crusaders and anti-Muslim comedians to stamp mockery of their religion in Jerusalem. The Muslims fought back, and the people on both sides enjoyed a great religious bloodletting. When you’re not allowed to poke fun at things, I think it breeds savagery.
Religious savagery has continued right up until today, but in the modern world, the comedic overtones are freely expressed. Unfortunately, is seems the vast majority of Muslims have decided not to enter the modern world.
If you make a joke or write a parody about the Pope, it is unlikely Catholic ninjas will be dispatched to blow up you and your family. If you expose a bloated televangelist for the corpulent weasel he is, the likelihood of you being burned at the stake is small. You can joke about Jesus, write a limerick about the Buddha, or draw a caricature of Zeus with a tiny penis, and it’s doubtful you will suffer slings and arrows. But, mention Mohammed in an unflattering light, and you’ll have 18 million fanatical sheep bleating for your death. It wouldn’t be so bad if the sheep would just bleat, but a lot of them are armed and will point their weapons wherever the sheepherder tells them to.
I expect a lot of people are saying, “That’s bigoted; you are prejudiced against Muslims.” Given today’s climate of appeasement to even the most radical elements of society, I am not surprised that people might say this. The truth is, I don’t give a monkey’s scrotum about religion. I am prejudiced against stupid, intolerant and humorless people. We all have our prejudices; those are mine.
So, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha walk into a bar. Jesus asks for a glass of water so he can turn it into wine. Mohammed asks where the virgins are. Buddha sits back and laughs his ass off.
(c) Mike Hood 2017