Laughing Liberally To Keep From Crying: (Not So) Funny Business

by Justin Krebs

Instead of a joke or a video today, Laughing Liberally wants to share a true story that's a little sad at first and then a little happy.

Comedians are always looking for breaks.  Part of why Laughing Liberally formed was to give comedians a forum for smart, political humor that was often frowned upon in comedy clubs.  So, you'd think we'd be overjoyed by this invitation from ABC News

ABC News Research Team has discovered your website and we wanted to extend this exciting opportunity to you.

...

Send us your VIDEO joke because we're going to take the best submissions and air them on Sunday, November 18th as part of This Week's 'Funnies'.

A chance for national exposure...so why aren't our comedians laughing with joy?  Because of the part of the message from ABC I left out:

The Writers strike has forced most of the late night comedy shows into re-runs. But that doesn't mean the political humor has to stop- You be the comedian!

We at This Week are looking for YOU to help fill the void!

"The void" = "The workforce." In short, they wanted us to become scabs.

I was indecisive:  We're not in the business of strike-breaking.  But I also wanted all of the hard-working comedians who rarely get the shot they deserve to make their own decision, and so we forward the message to them.

And the comedians of Laughing Liberally refused.  Baratunde Thurston sent back the guild rules he chose to respect.  Lee Camp sarcastically suggested it was a great opportunity for someone who didn't want a career in writing.  And as Katie Halper commented:

Isn't this clearly scabbing? Am not being sarastic here, but is there anything I don't know about the strike that would make this anything but scabbing? Of course i love publicity, but we are laughing liberally, not scabbily.

The writers' strike is an important fight, as Jane Hamsher and Matt Stoller have both noted.  We on the Left need to pay attention to it:  to talk about the excesses of corporatocracy, about the rules and roles of new media...and about the respect you give professionals who strike.

You don't cross the picket line.

As Living Liberally's Josh Bolotsky noted:  "Laughing Conservatively wouldn't face this kind of moral dilemma."

PS:  ABC wrote to us from the email account: [email protected]  So we talked back.  I'm sure they'd love to hear from you too.