I’m sitting in my corner café and the TV is tuned to some retarded show of home videos, most of which depict acts of sheer horror: smashed crotches, bull gorings (this is Spain, after all), nasty falls, car wrecks, etc. As the videos are of the amateur variety, they are without sound or the audio was of poor quality and therefore not able to be reproduced on television. Don’t worry, though, the show has conveniently dubbed in screams, cries of agony, a feline screech as we see a cat fall from a very high branch, police sirens, cars braking, and various crash noises. In the “One man’s tragedy is another man’s biggest laugh of the day” department, they use one of those slide whistle things as sound effects for most of the more gruesome accidents which probably end in a trip to the hospital, if not the morgue. All of the victims of these shows please remember: we aren’t laughing at you; we’re laughing at pieces of you.
If only in real life we could have slide whistle noises to soften the blows of unspeakable calamities! I’m sure that the victims of some of history’s greatest catastrophes would have been comforted in their final moments if they could have heard slide whistles and that funny Benny Hill tune*. After all, if we can’t laugh at the most gruesome of life’s disasters then we have failed to understand that the punchline for all of us in life is death.
So I’ve started carrying around a slide whistle so as to be prepared if I ever bear witness to some disastrous event. I’m even going to get a little holster for the whistle so that I can pull it out really quickly just in case someone drops a piano on me from the fifth floor. I figure that if I’m going to be squashed like a cockroach by a large musical instrument I may as well provide a little last-second entertainment for the people around me on the sidewalk (it makes me happy to think of someone frantically trying to get a slide whistle out of a holster to add a bit of humor to their own demise instead of, oh I don't know, stepping out of the way). I’m also going to market a keychain MP3 player that instantly queues the Benny Hill theme song in the off chance you’re ever involved in a plane crash or a mining cave-in. If we’re going to make television entertainment out of the tragedy of others we may as well get a few last-second laughs at our own expense. And if anyone is filming us they won’t have to dub in sound effects.
*The song is called “Yakety Sax” and was written by James Q. “Spider” Rich and Boots Randolph. The version on Benny Hill is by Ronnie Aldrich.