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Sunday, 26 August 2007

image for Hawking replaces Keller as preferred butt of tasteless jokes
"My book's called 'A Brief History of Time' but time is LONG, get it? God, I just crack myself up."

It's the end of an era: the blind/deaf American author Helen Keller {1880-1968} is no longer the preferred butt of tasteless, sick, puerile jokes made at the expense of the severely handicapped.

"The Helen Keller Joke is as dead as - well, Helen herself." says tastelessness expert Larry Flynt. Saying 'How did Helen burn her fingers? Trying to read the waffle iron.' once guaranteed big laughs. But today it's more likely to bring only perplexed stares."

Renowned shock jock Howard Stern agrees: "Maybe it's because the new generation doesn't even know who Helen Keller was. So when I say 'How did Helen's parents punish her? By rearranging the furniture.', they seldom get it. Sure, it's sad. It's not Helen's fault the young people of today are mostly cultural illiterates. But times change, and we toilet-talkers have to change with them."

But in a development we think Helen would have approved of, the torch has been passed to a new generation. On the receiving end of cruelly boorish, mostly unfunny handicapped "humour" for the 21st century is: Stephen Hawking.

Hawking, a professor of physics at Cambridge University, has for 44 of his 65 years suffered from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, which is also called Lou Gehrig's disease because nobody can pronounce "Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis". As such he is paralyzed from the neck down, and when you stop to think about it, also from the neck UP. He speech consists of a series of of honks, squeeks and wheezes, intelligible only to a few close associates who act as his interpreters. And it was they who first perceived Stephen's potential as the butt of jokes.

"Professor Hawking was delivering a lecture, and I was dutifully translating his remarks." recalled Professor Basil Nasal. 'He said something that to the audience's untrained ears sounded like 'shnee usk {wheeze} klurg thna {gurgle} gleek owlff' Suddenly I had a flash of inspiration. I looked at him with a shocked expression and said, 'Sure! That's easy for YOU to say!' Well, the audience just fell on the floor laughing. Several people were so convulsed with laughter they had to be taken to hospital. It was all over the papers the next day. And I think that's where it all started."

But not where it ended. Stephen Hawking Jokes swept the nation like a tidal wave, or some other suitably hackneyed cliche. Soon 'How can Stephen Hawking make his wheelchair go 180 MPH? Roll it off a cliff." was on the lips of every man in the U.K., and "That's not funny - it's SICK!' on the lips of every woman. [Thus illustrating once again that women have no sense of humour.]

Even in America, Hawking was the new King of Comedy. Tonight Show host Jay Leno reports, "I'd start with my usual joke about President Bush, and the audience just shouts me down with the chant 'Haw-KING! Haw-KING! Haw-KING!' And I'm like, 'All right! What's the difference betweem Terri Schiavo and Stephen Hawking? Stephen has tenure!' Sure, it wasn't my best ad lib ever, but the crowd went wild! My entire monlogue now consists of only Stephen Hawking jokes. The audience won't let me do anything else!" Other talk-hosts David Letterman and Conan O'Brien have had similar experiences. And the Comedy Central cable channel has gone to an "All Hawking, all the time" format.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson of the Manchester United football team announced on the BBC that the team was drafting Prof. Hawking to play on the First Team. When the astonishing interviewer asked why, he replied, "So then we'll at least have an excuse for sucking so much! HA! Had you on, didn't I?" as the studio audience roared with laughter.

Even HM the Queen got into the act. In opening Parliament HM said, "Let us not forget Stephen Hawking, a man as well known for his athleticism as President Bush is for his intellect." After a uncomfortable few seconds of silence, HM thundered, "THAT'S A JOKE!!" and the assembled MPs laughed dutifully.

And what of the man at the centre of all this? Professor Hawking seemed amazingly at peace with his new found celebrity. He consented to be the "Guest of Dishonour" at Cambridge University's first annual celebrity roast. After a lengthy introduction by emcee Sasha Baron Cohen, which began "This chicken tastes like it was fucked to death." and ended "So here's the Man of the hour - who has been described as 'The Einstein of the 21st century, except not as smart' - Professor Stephen Hawking!", it took fully two minutes for the applause and cheers to die down. Finally Professor Hawking began:

"Thank you. I'm glad to be here tonight. Then again, after 44 years of having Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis I'm kind of glad to be ANYWHERE tonight.

"Like Sir Isaac Newton before me, I occupy the Lucasian Chair in Physics here at Cambridge. Although I'm pretty sure that when Sir Isaac occupied it, the Lucasian Chair wasn't battery-powered and breath-operated.

"Honestly, I never dreamed I'd become a stand-up comic, since I can't stand up.

"I got a new voice computer to talk through. Only problem with it, it was made in Japan. I found that out when I entered a karaoke contest. I was singing an old Englebert Humperdinck song and it came out, "PRease reRease me, Ret me go, cause I don't Rove you anymore..."

"My associates are constantly playing practical jokes on me. Like last week, they turned my respirator up to maximum speed, then laughed whilst it made me discover the secrets of the universe in fast motion.

"And I just made the Cambridge baseball team. I'm home plate.

"And so in conclusion, I'd just like to say I don't mind being the butt of your jokes, and a necrotic, ulcerated and incontinent butt at that. Just be assured that with every joke, I'm laughing right along with you. Or would be, if only I had control of my facial and breathing muscles."

And with that the man who had made so many laugh, now moved them to tears. And from there to an ovation the likes of which this university had never seen. It was a moment Professor Hawking will surely remember to his dying day. Which should be in two, maybe three weeks now.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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