Date: Sat May 05 2001 - 06:09:55 PDT

the NYT url for the article "Buy Silk!" is found below, midway
thru. DO access it. the rest of the snip is just funny observation,
something lite and trippy in the face of our wagnerian economy.

glad to see nordquist is back!

SLATE CULTURE, Fri., May 4, 2001

Take My Pink Slip. Please.
Is dot-com still funny?

By Robert Knafo

Long a mother lode for satirists, the tanking Internet business has become
much tougher to mine for laughs. "The dot-com crash is not as funny as it was
a few months ago," concedes Modern Humorist co-editor Michael Colton in an
e-mail interview. "Now that so many people have lost jobs and money, it's
harder to laugh at." Things have become so unfunny that these professional
jesters are publicly disowning their own dot-com work. Last fall the site put
up a faux first-aid poster in which a stricken-looking guy is being
administered the Heimlich maneuver. "Grasp your venture capitalist from
behind," the poster read. "Place your fist on his abdomen and squeeze quickly
and firmly until he coughs up more cash." But now a caption has been added
that reads: "When we first posted this in October 2000, it was funny. Now
it's just painful."

But Modern Humorist is still running "New Jobs for the Mascot," a
visual spoof starring the famed canine sock puppet reincarnated as the "Lead
singer for Rage Against the Machine" and "Copy editor at Working Woman
Magazine." "We're making fun not of the dot-com demise itself," Colton
insists, "but of coverage of the crash, and of the hype surrounding it." Like
the recent profile parody, "After the Cliché Rush ," in which a writer who
makes it big interviewing once-high-flying dot-com entrepreneurs himself
comes to a sad end when interest in his subjects runs dry. "Paul Thorsen once
scoffed at editors who 'didn't get' the dot-com crash," reads a says-it-all
caption. "Now he polishes his resume and watches reruns of 'C.S.I.' "

Andy Borowitz, author of the very funny day-trading send-up The Trillionaire
Next Door, recently published a piece in the New York Times op-ed page titled
"Buy!" . His
premise was that there's a new bunch of technology startups worthy of the
renewed attention of investors:

"SpinPrep Software: This Palo Alto- based firm's software generates buoyant,
face-saving speeches for bubble economy moguls whose doomed enterprises have
been taken over at fire- sale prices. The software's find/replace feature
substitutes the words 'strategic alliance' for 'desperation bailout,'
'gathering momentum' for 'hemorrhaging money' and 'impetuous suitor' for
'despised rival.' "

I thought I'd ask Borowitz what could possibly sustain his interest in the
Internet as comic fodder. "The whole notion of 'dot-com' humor does feel
somewhat played out to me," he admitted in an e-mail reply, "largely because
people like me have beaten it into the ground. And yet, the dot-com
aftermath, in my opinion, may be even funnier than the dot-com boom: the
humbling of all of the would-be dot-com millionaires."

But in his Times piece, Borowitz's comic radar is actually tuned to
face-saving PR-speak—worthy of satire, maybe, but tellingly off-topic (and
when isn't it easy to parody PR?). Borowitz is targeting secondary things,
just as Modern Humorist is flaying discarded mascots and media reporters. The
great mockery-worthy days of staggering hubris are past, these pieces seem to
say with their wan picking-over of the dot-com wreckage.

The only people who may still be getting some humor mileage out of the
dot-com crash are those who would otherwise be crying: the laid-off and
dis-optioned, who know the story from the inside. But comics who are also
dot-com veterans face a vexing problem, as illustrated at a recent Pink Slip
party, a New York new media networking event. Two Internet startup veterans
and professional comics were putting on a special evening of stand-up titled
"DotComedy." It started out promisingly: Organizer Ritch Duncan, who writes
for Saturday Night Live, pleaded with his co-emcee Lynn Harris to tell the
audience about her nightmare days at a well-known Internet content play. And
she looked like she wanted to, badly—but finally she said no. Huh? "I signed
a nondisparagement agreement," she explained, looking like she had turned
over her firstborn.

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