By Nate Odenkirk | STAFF WRITER
NEW YORK CITY—Officials from the World Health Organization shocked the world today by officially classifying Coronavirus jokes as a pandemic. “We arrived at this conclusion by looking at two factors: the rate at which these jokes spread, and if the jokes themselves are funny or just really annoying,” said Markus Thiessen, a W.H.O. representative. “Unfortunately, these jokes have spread at a rate that we cannot contain and are mutating in such subtle ways that our scientists can’t account for. One thing they all have in common: they all elicit only a polite chuckle,” he said. “At best,” he clarified.
The very first Coronavirus joke began in early February, traced to an internet user who commented on a story about the then-emerging disease: “Looks like they could use a lime with that ;).” It attracted little attention at the time, but that one stupid joke set off a chain reaction, culminating in its appearance on Late Night shows where millions of Americans were exposed to the jokes.
The problem with the Coronavirus is that, in my professional opinion, some of these jokes are kind of good.
Coronavirus jokes have been especially hard to tamp down when compared to past flu jokes. “The problem with the Coronavirus is that, in my professional opinion, some of these jokes are kind of good,” advised Peter Lionel, Doctor of Applied Medicine at Duke University. He performs weekly sets at Clammy’s, a local comedy club, warning fellow comedians to only spread funny jokes about the disease. “For example, I have this one bit about how the Coronavirus is like noodles. Both started in China and Italy,” he said, apparently having finished the joke.
The symptoms of these jokes range anywhere from furrowed-brow annoyance to audible groaning. “Coronavirus itself is no laughing matter,” says Dr. Anna Halpern, a pathologist at the University of North Dakota. She hosts improv college night most Thursdays at Twine House, Bismark’s only comedy club. “But, Coronavirus jokes are no laughing matter, either. They stink. Open mics are a particularly potent place to hear bad jokes about the disease. Here, no one washes their hands, and everyone touches the mic.”
Scientists at the World Health Organization are racing to find a cure, or at least develop an actually funny Coronavirus joke. Progress on either front is slow. Teams of comedians from over 30 countries have sunk countless hours in writer’s rooms trying to find a great one. Governments, too, are now finally feeling the pressure to act. The United Kingdom has set up an anonymous joke hotline. President Trump has even offered to “take it down a notch” for a few days so that comedians can focus on this. No matter what the outcome is, humanity must resist the urge to turn a bad disease into a worse joke. ♦