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The Butt of the Joke

You know you are getting old when even the judges look young; but another sign of aging is a failure to understand the humor of the young, a failure that on my part now goes back at least two decades. The things that the young laugh at nowadays escape me entirely. They seem to me offensive and banal in equal measure, an undesirable combination that is not easy to achieve.

A friend drew my attention recently to the case of a Scottish comedian, apparently very famous but previously unknown to me, called Markus Meechan. He posted a video on YouTube that shows him trying to teach his girlfriend’s dog, a pug, how to be a Nazi. Apparently, many people found this hilariously funny.

The Scottish police, however, arrested him for offending against some inherently arbitrary law or other, and now he faces trial and possible imprisonment for up to a year. This is so ludicrous and sinister that I leave it up to others to huff and puff about it. One cannot always confine oneself to hitting the easiest targets.

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What struck me most about Mr. Meechan, however, was that (according, at least, to the photographs that I saw of him) he had managed to make himself uglier than his girlfriend’s pug, which is again no mean achievement. No doubt he—Mr. Meechan, not the dog—was unfavored by nature (as so many of us indeed are), but it took some determination on his part to look quite as hideous as he manages to do. In this, however, he was only showing how deeply conventional was his mind, for such primitive self-mutilation as he indulges in has now become a mass phenomenon. If dandyism had been the fashion, he would no doubt have been a dandy; but unfortunately the fashion is now to make oneself look like a barbarian attacking the Roman legions on the other side of Hadrian’s Wall. There is nothing as feeble as the human mind when it is in the grip of the desire to be fashionable.

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