The Potato, or:
Angry Arab's Sense of Humor
I recently hooked my cable to a few channels I had not had before and was rewarded by having access to many re-runs of Seinfeld, my favourite situation comedy, ever, absolutely. A few nights ago, I watched the nearly forgotten episode: The Fatigues
[Jerry and Abby are in Jerry's apartment.]
JERRY: So you saw Bania's act?
ABBY: He got two minutes into that Ovaltine thing and I just couldn't take it anymore.
JERRY: I told you, it's like getting beaten with a bag of oranges.
ABBY: Why is he so obsessed with Ovaltine?
JERRY: He just thinks that anything that dissolves in milk is funny.
[Jerry runs into Bania on a street corner.]
BANIA: Hey Jerry.
JERRY: Oh, hey Bania.
BANIA: Didja hear what happened? The mentor saw my act. She dumped me.
JERRY: Oh, that's too bad.
BANIA: Maybe she's right. Maybe I am a complete hack. I'm the absolute worst. The worst, Jerry.
JERRY: Well it's just that you got so many things with the milk. You got that Bosco bit then you got your Nestlé's Quik bit, by the time you get to Ovaltine--
What, you may well ask, has a fruit salad got to do with the donkey's wife? Or, to put it more bluntly, how can Seinfeld be of any relevance to Prof'. AbuKhalil's sense of humor?
The answer, my friends, is in the application of Seinfeld's and everyone else's puzzlement verging on total incomprehension when confronted with what Bania thinks is funny. Having been a devout reader of Prof. AbuKhalil's News Service, I am by now familiar with his sense of humor and can take a very educated guess at what he thinks is funny: potatoes! This harmless blob of a vegetable, this disinterred darling of most Fast Food joints, has somehow become AA's preferred intrument of ridicule and sarcasm. Here are a few examples:
"Potato Job Senior Analyst, Potatoes | AHDB For potato's sake!
I shall here for the first time reveal their names: Karim potato and Husni potato.
Oh, the hilarity. The wit. The trenchant sarcasm. All of such pristine potato quality.
The puzzle is less Prof. AbuKhalil's fixation on potatoes and more on the seeming perseverance in utilizing this so-called joke. I mean, haven't his many fans and readers sort of gotten the joke by now? I know for a fact Arabs are capable of the most cutting edge humor.
Take Sayed Kashua for example. Or this blogger (Be forewarned: explicit and graphic everything!)
Or the joke about the pregnant Palestinian woman being held up at a checkpoint for so long that she starts labour right then and there. An IDF medic is rushed to help with the delivery of the expected two boy twins. The first baby emerges from the womb, sees the Israeli soldiers around, and turning back, calls to his brother: Ahmed, bring the rocks!
See what I mean?
I think Prof. AbuKhalil's needs a mentor in cultivating a proper kind of humor. I can even name a candidate for the job, a fellow academic and a kindred spirit, aspiring also to be a funny.
Update: It must be stated, in all fairness, that AbuKhalil's sense of humour does not exclusively run to potatoes. Here is an example of another sophisticated strain. And I forgot to mention his razor sharp satirical portraits of Abe Foxman, a Jew AbuKhalil really really loathes. Of course it is always possible that AbuKhalil's humorous sidebars are so superior and sophisticated that I just don't have the mental cojones to understand their brilliance.