Dark humor brightens life in battered New Orleans
A Hurricane Katrina evacuee walks up to a woman in a bar and says, "Want to go back to my place?"
"I`d love to," the woman replies.
"So would I," the man says.
In New Orleans, struggling to get back on its feet more than a year after Hurricane Katrina, stand-up comedy and satire are surging in popularity, as survivors of the storm turn to humor, the darker the better, to cope with their plight.
Navigating government bureaucracies, battling over insurance claims, and watching politicians roll out recovery plans that are never put into practice have all whetted what was always a large appetite for the ridiculous and the absurd.
Bigger-than-ever audiences attend comedy shows, residents are devouring humorous blogs and satirical newspapers and growing numbers of amateurs are trying stand-up routines, comics say.
"After the storm, I came back and wondered what kind of crowds we would get and what kind of mood they would be in," said Mike Strecker, who tells the joke about the evacuee`s pickup line in his comic routine. "The crowds are larger, and they`re so much more responsive.
"It`s a release just waiting to happen," he said of the mood in his audiences who have returned since Katrina burst the New Orleans levees and flooded the city.
"BORN OUT OF FRUSTRATION"
Among the new additions to the comedy scene is a satirical newspaper, "The New Orleans Levee," with the motto: "We Don`t Hold Anything Back."
The free paper pokes fun at politicians and officials who are supposed to lead the post-Katrina rebuilding effort, said publisher Rudy Vorkapic, 42.
"This isn`t making fun of New Orleans. This is making fun of people who are failing New Orleans," he said. "This is born out of frustration."
The latest edition features a playful story on local Congressman William Jefferson explaining the $90,000 cash federal authorities found in his freezer as a "manufacturer`s rebate" for buying the appliance.
Another article details a study showing that hurricanes did not strike New Orleans this year "because there was so little for them to do."
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