Comedy conveys reality to Americans today better than straight facts, and last Friday’s ‘The Daily Show’ masterfully presented the real Africa.
Jon Stewart introduced his new correspondent from South Africa, Trevor Noah, who conveyed to Americans a lot more successfully than I and dozens of other bloggers have:
(1) Eric Garner and Michael Brown demonstrate more police brutality in America than in South Africa.
Moreover and more importantly, police brutality in South Africa was once much worse and is now much better, and this is not the case in America.
Noah pointed out that police brutality in South Africa was a construct of apartheid, and that when apartheid ended this brutality began to reverse.
In America, where there’s never been apartheid as such, brutality has remained high if not increased.
(2) There is more ebola in America than South Africa.
True and undeniable, but no matter how many times we say this it’s forgotten until carried in a comedy routine!
Noah said his friends warned him against going to America for fear of contracting ebola, and he replied “just because they had a few cases of ebola there [America] doesn’t mean we should cut off travel, there.”
(3) Americans believe they can “save Africa” by small charity donations. Noah remarked, “for just five cents a day.”
This sarcasm is powerful stuff. It reveals the ignominy of American charities and the naivete of American donors in the much fuller arguments that I and many others have made for years about the mistake of so much American charity.
(4) Americans think almost exclusively that Africa is a vacation destination for big game safaris. While Africans absolutely don’t, of course.
Noah then presented a game, “Spot the Africa” which was phenomenal.
A series of two paneled photographs came up multiple times contrasting Africa with America, and as you can imagine, the horrible ones were America.
This wasn’t just nitpicking. It was real.
Stewart then asked Noah, “You aren’t saying that things in America are worse than in Africa?”
And Noah replies, “No, I’m not saying that, you guys are saying that.”
I’m one of those guys.
And Noah ended with a brilliant observation that knits the reality of sarcasm to the troubled conundrum of American life:
“You know what African mothers warn their children, about, Jon? Be grateful for what you’ve got, because there are fat children starving in Mississippi.”