What’s so funny about COVID-19?

COVID Chronicles. The first in a whole pandemic of columns I wrote for The Sault Star for comic relief during our health crisis. This one was published March 19.

A whole chorus of imaginary voices screams that it’s too soon to crack jokes about the COVID-19 pandemic.

But then a vision pops into my head of a fool — a court jester — in Elizabethan England.

“Her Majesty sayeth she wanted to move the Royal Court to London,” the fool remarked.

“I advised her to avoid London like the plague.”

Black humour. It’s traditional in times of, well, blackness.

So let me just don this multicoloured hat with the bells dangling from it, pick up my quill and scratch a few stray observations on some foolscap.

Please wash your hands thoroughly after reading this column. Those unable to count to 20 should sing their favourite operatic aria.

An early COVID-related joke I read on twitter purported to be an official announcement from an NHL club. It went something like this:

“The Montreal Canadiens announced today that due to the pandemic they will not be competing in the playoffs this season.”

Cancellation of almost every sport (except the UFC, where fighters spit, sweat and bleed all over each other in an obvious attempt to infect their opponents with COVID-19) has many wondering what TSN and Sportsnet will broadcast.

Some suggested the networks relive past triumphs of Toronto teams: the Raptors of 2019, the Blue Jays of 1992 and 1993.

But grainy black-and-white newsreel footage of championship Maple Leafs might be too jarring for modern viewers. Kids wouldn’t understand why Foster Hewitt was greeting hockey fans in Canada, the U.S. and Newfoundland.

More likely one of Canada’s GTA-centric sports networks will employ a 24-hour AustonCam to ensure their standard NHL coverage continues seamlessly.

“Look, he’s flinching in his sleep. That must be goal number 50.”

On Facebook the other day someone wondered why a local nightspot had pulled the plug on its musical entertainment for last weekend.

I mused that bar-band music might be COVID-proof as long as those who took to the dance floor stayed the proper “social distance” of two metres away from each other. 

Then I imagined, somewhere in the hereafter, a whole scowl of those nuns who chaperoned high school dances in the 1950s and 1960s high-fiving each other and yelling “Finally!”

Ontario health officials recommended gatherings be limited to no more than 250 people, later dropping that to 50. You can cheat a little on that 50 as long as enough people go out for a smoke at any given time. But will we now see lines of smokers instead of the customary collegial clusters.

Social distancing comes naturally to those of us who can count the number of our nearest neighbours on the fingers of one hand (which he then wipes with a diesel-doused rag because he has no hand sanitizer).

The other day a neighbour and I met up on our communal snowshoeing trails. We had no idea what the protocol was, both because of COVID and because it’s rare to run into anyone else on the trails.

I think bumping telescopic snowshoeing poles would be appropriate. When you get home, wipe down the poles with a diesel-soaked rag.

Hoarding also comes naturally to those of us in the boonies. We stock up on too much of everything because unless you craft the perfect grocery list and follow it meticulously you’re facing a half-hour drive back into the city for a can of tuna.

Toilet paper is one of those commodities for which keeping ahead of the demand curve is in a country person’s best interest. A backhouse bidet wouldn’t make much sense when it’s 30 below, would it?

But we look down our noses at those speculating in TP or hand sanitizing diesel fuel.

Of course, it might make sense to pile toilet paper along the U.S. border to stop the flow from that COVID s – – – show.

I’m not worried that I’ll reach the end of my last roll.

I’ve got a filing cabinet full of old Humour Me column clippings.

Would that make me the butt of my own jokes or the joke of my own butt?

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