James Gandolfini passed away shockingly yesterday at the age of 51. He was known primarily for his iconic performance/character of Tony Soprano and for being the face of one television’s greatest, if not the greatest, shows (my pre-Game of Thrones list has it at #6 on my favorite shows of all time). But with an untimely death comes the ritual of comedians taking to social media immediately to offer RIPs, jokes and other comments. I was particularly disturbed after Whitney Houston’s death only because I thought her talent was so singularly spectacular that it would have been nice for people to reflect and appreciate it for a minute or too before offering half-baked jokes. Plus, it is worth noting that I saw a lot of trashing of Whitney Houston (black) for her drug problem – sometimes in the form of “Why do we care about this crackhead whore who did this to herself when we have troops and other real heroes dying,” and yet interestingly enough I have seen no calls for similar reflection from America’s social media heroes in the wake of grieving and reflection for the obese Gandolfini (white). But rather than make this my usual tone of judgment I thought I would just offer the casual comedy observer the different types of responses that now come from comedians in the wake of a tragedy. Enjoy!
1) Standard RIP message – this is made to either show appreciation for the man or woman’s work, but just as likely to let everyone know that you have heard the news and are hopefully either informing them, which makes you cool, or that you are feeling something profound, which makes you look warm.
2) Hack Joke – for example if you mentioned the ending of The Sopranos or Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ you need your comedy license revoked. These always seem to happen so quickly to the point that you see 8 comedians with the same joke, and they are all Facebook friends sharing the same wall, but they still failed to realize that the joke was dead on arrival.
3) Video Clip and/or Photo RIP – I like these actually. The person is known for something so it makes sense to share. Which is why I will share Kim and Ray J’s tape when Ray J dies.
4) Actually Funny Joke – after a day or more of respectful time usually, you can just go to www.Facebook.com/JLCauvin for these 🙂 but seriously folks… every so often someone posts something that manages to be a little gallows humor, but not too disrespectful and actually funny (or disrespectful, but really funny). But if they do that and then spend the next 2 minutes telling you how good that joke was you are watching Anthony Jeselnick. This is a great blog post people…
5) Unbelievable Emotional Post – This is the horsesh*t extension of #1 where someone with no emotional connection has a heartbreaking message. 99 out of 100 I don’t buy it, but just know that if Bryan Cranston meets an untimely death, my tears will be real.
6) We were friends post – You met the celebrity twice, but you refer to them as your friend, your spirit, your buddy, your dear friend or any other such nonsense.
7) Fake Moral Outrage post – These are the folk who either take a celebrity’s death as a time to remind us about the troops or breast cancer or any other important thing, but they only do it on that day. There were no posts about honor or important causes the day before. They are like the Westboro Baptist Church – they show up to a social media mourning and then try to shame you with stuff they don’t care about most days, but become morally indignant just to fu*k with your appreciation. Or they point out that the death was not a surprise or that they deserved it. Hey – if the celebrity did not harm to others and they were talented it is OK to reflect on their skills and gifts without being told about the causes you rarely discuss during non celebrity mourning social media time.