Memo to WJS: Why Not a Humor Column?
By Daniel Rigney
TO: Opinion Editor, The Wall Street Journal
RE: Proposing a Humor Column in WSJ
As your editorial board knows, gleeful actor Jane Lynch addressed the D9 tech conference near Los Angeles this week, playing a comic stage role as acting CEO of Murdoch’s News Corporation, owner of the Wall Street Journal. In this role she urged, among other things, that WSJ introduce a comics section to its pages.
I’d like to append a comment to Ms. Lynch’s proposal. Why not publish a regular humor column as well? And why not position it in the very heart and soul of WSJ, its Opinion pages?
While I hesitate to second Ms. Lynch’s nomination of “Family Circus” and “Cathy” as regular comic features in WSJ, I do think “Dilbert” would work well in that space, as it gently satirizes incompetent corporate managers. You may know that “Dilbert” is drawn from the cubicle-ist perspective of computer engineers working in a small, tormented, and hopelessly uncompetitive tech company. The San Antonio Express-News some years ago ran “Dilbert” in its business pages until reactions from the local business community pressed it to move the strip to the comics section instead. So if my proposed humor column doesn’t work on the Opinion pages, maybe it will play as a regular feature in your tech section, or on your new comics page, alongside “Dilbert.”
The humor column I’m proposing would sit rather to the left of columns by Peggy (Morning Again) Noonan and the other conservatarians who now provide content for WJS’s pages. It would give the Opinion pages a stimulating and refreshing diversity of opinion. You could position it just below your regular guest columns from the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford. A humor column could never replace these bright lights as a source of illumination and insight into American and world business and politics. But it could die trying.
Dream with me now. I’m imagining a comic-conservative column, a kind of print Colbert, that finds the lighter side of massive corruption on Wall Street and even Main Street. I’m seeing playful parodies of subtly manipulative and shamelessly cynical advertising that would make even madmen blush. I’m seeing light-hearted looks at individual and corporate greed, military violence, and especially conservatarians themselves. We all like to laugh at ourselves sometimes. Don’t we?
While there are many successful comedy venues by and for liberals, from Stewart, Colbert and Maher to the Onion and ONN, Tom Tomorrow and beyond, there are few if any comparable shows or features on the right (I mean intentionally funny) that appeal to the younger demographic upon whom WSJ’s future will ever more depend in the cold, cutthroat world of corporate content provision.
Botton line: We’ll all have to be younger, edgier and hipper – even those of us who are older, duller, and need hip replacements -- if we hope to survive in the mind-to-mind combat of the information age. In corporate competition, only cutting edges cut throats. Is it time for WSJ to sharpen its sense of humor? I'm here to help.
Ms. Lynch has first dibs, of course, on the authorship of the proposed humor column, since she and her ghost gagwriters were its inspiration. But if she spurns this opportunity, please consider me. This fake memo may serve as my first column, displaying that ironic twist that so many of your younger and better-educated readers, present and future, will seek out and enjoy.By the way, everything I’m saying here is off the record. In addition to providing humor content, my proposed column would have the bonus virtue of being neither officially Democratic nor Republican, so you could get away with calling it “non-partisan” or “post-partisan.” If anything, the column would represent the views of the Opportunist Party.
As your columnist I would be flexitarian in my professional and ethical convictions as we respond nimbly to the shifting but manageable preferences of your various market segments.
I will also consider ghosting for you at the right price if you need expert commentary on any subject – in a suitably non-comic and professional persona, of course. Who do you want me to be? Rightprice me.
To sample my corporate writing, why not visit open.salon.com/blog/danagram and read my piece on Santa’s decision to move Xmas Inc. from the North Pool to Hong Kong? After that, read at will as you wish.
Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your faithful reader and servant, Danagram.