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Secrets of the Baghdad giggle sheets

December 04, 2005|Henry Beard | HENRY BEARD, a former editor of the National Lampoon, is the author of "French Cats Don't Get Fat," "A Cat's Night Before Christmas" and "A Dog's Night Before Christmas."

BY NOW you've probably read about the Pentagon-financed public relations program that paid journalists to plant feel-good news stories written by the U.S. military in Iraqi newspapers.

It's bound to be leaked sooner or later, so I'm going to come clean and fess up to my part in another multimillion-dollar government program. This one paid humorists, including me, to write pro-American jokes to be slipped into the pages of Arabic-language giggle sheets like Al Laffiya, Boffolah, Khomedei and Hardeharharharam.

I'm not proud of my part in this covert campaign to win the hearts, minds and funny bones of the Iraqis, but all I was doing was trying to level the field of horseplay. Insurgent gag-writers, awash in diverted oil money, were provoking laugh riots with George Bush moron jokes, not to mention devastating chestnuts like this lethal side-splitter: "Question: How many occupying American devil soldier crusader dogs does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: 1,000 -- one to hold the bulb and the other 999 to use atom bombs to turn the entire village in a clockwise direction!"

I knew we couldn't win this fight with our rubber chickens tied behind our backs, so I joined an elite and, yes, well-compensated unit composed of our nation's top quipsters -- The Coalition Satirical Authority Special Farces. We quickly retaliated by deploying an impressive array of laser-guided rib-ticklers. Here's one:

Knock-knock.

Please inform me, what esteemed personage is at my door?

Falafel.

Falafel who?

I falafel about these unprovoked terrorist attacks by terrorists on innocent civilians who seek democracy!

Here's another knee-slapper:

A merchant in the medina noticed that a venerable mullah had a fig in his ear. He approached this revered gentleman and said, "Sire, you have a fig in your ear." "What?" replied the mullah.

This time the merchant spoke louder, though still with the utmost respect. "Oh learned one, you have a fig in your ear." "I regret that I cannot hear you," responded the mullah, "but it is not because I am a close-minded cleric who is deaf to the reasonable entreaties of people thirsting for democracy, but rather because I have a fig in my ear."

Look, I know this is no laughing matter, but I do take comfort in the fact that like everything else this administration does, it's a total joke.

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