MY LOUSY WORLD: Corruption in the funny papers


Everyone is concerned about government corruption, yet seems oblivious to what’s going on in our funnies. Someone needs to look into possible “pay for play” corruption there.

Are you even aware there’s a daily comic strip in the Billings Gazette that isn’t even remotely funny? In fact, “The Born Loser” is so UN-funny, it borders on criminal. I’m calling for a special prosecutor to look into just whose palm the Born Loser is greasing for this prime page location. Need I mention “quid pro quo?” (Yes, because it’s fun to say).

Each day, I visit “Frank and Earnest,” never failing to leave laughing. Then I drop in on hilariously-insightfully “Tundra,” never sorry I did. But one strip above Tundra is “The Born Loser,” where laughter goes to die.

One such untimely death occurred last Saturday.

Frank and Earnest featured two obese pigs standing in slop, ready to dig in. The smiling pig says to the pensive pig, “Go ahead, eat it. We’re pigs; we don’t have a five-second rule.”

Meanwhile, Tundra’s homely lawyer with a huge nose (always a knee-slapper) — with a visibly nervous, buck deer hiding behind him — holds up an official-looking paper to an equally big-nosed hunter. The helpful bubbles rising from the hunter’s head indicates he’s only thinking, “Hmmm, a 500-yard restraining order. Good thing I have a scope.”

Bracing for the worst, I travel one panel higher to The Born Loser’s mother-in-law saying, “You know what your problem is? You’re wishy-washy.” The scowling Loser protests, “I am not wishy-washy.” Then — and stop me if you’ve heard this one — “At least I don’t think I am.”

Well, hardy-har-HAR. We didn’t see that coming … yeah, right! For years I’ve read this humorless dud, and nine out of 10 could have been written by an engineer, for God’s sake!

That Monday, the pattern continued.

Frank says to Earnest, “I was a day late and a dollar short, but it was a personal best.” We all three were smiling at that point. Frank, Earnest and I set our goals bar extremely low, and I bet we sleep much better, and later, than your stressed-out achievers.

Tundra sports a scarecrow actually giving away corn to a grateful flock. The agitated, big-nosed farmer says to his big-nosed neighbor, “He’s one a them thar new-age SHAREcrows.”

Once again, my party ended one panel higher. When the Loser asks his son, Wilberforce, why he’s home from school, he says it’s Columbus Day and “I have to do a report on Columbus.” The confused Loser asks, “The city or the explorer?” I nearly wet myself not laughing.

Do you see a pattern? Yes, everyone in Tundra land has Jimmy Durante noses and no one in Loser land is funny or original. Who would pay this Art Sansom guy to put out this kind of droll drivel? His son Chip Sansom — obviously a chip off the old loser block — draws the cartoon, so he’s also profiting from some back-room deal.

Ya know, I could have saved both of those cliché strips. My final panel has the loser telling the woman, “I’m not wishy-washy. I thought you were a crotchety hag 20 years ago and I still do!”

In my Columbus Day rescue, the Loser offers his son help with his report, saying, “Not only did Columbus discover America, but Columbus is also the capital of Iowa.” It’s imperative to demonstrate just why he’s called the Born Loser.

So I make this offer to Chip, “Drop the old man; he’s an anchor around your neck. Allow this born loser to put humor to your art and I’ll take you to the top.” Chip can become the son I’ll never have.

I’m awarding my annual “Sleeper Award” to the office hi-jinks of “Dilbert.” It’s the funniest strip you’re currently not reading. Dilbert is hidden on a back page, along with the right-wing “Mallard Fillmore” and the left-wing “Doonesbury.”

Politics aside, Doonesbury is the clever, deep-thinker while Fillmore is the forever, deep-stinker. It is so talking-point clichéd, surely creator Bruce Tinsley is part of the quid pro quo cartel.

My politics lean right these days, but there’s a clear winner in the humor/creativity precincts. I’m afraid conservative entertainers are the Born Losers and liberal humorists are the Frank and Earnests. And they always have the biggest, funniest noses.