Tom Hanks and Compassionate Comedy

Like any decent liberal guy, I subscribe to Occupy Democrats on Facebook in order to get force-fed the latest Trump insanities. So when Occupy Democrats chucked this headline into my Facebook face, an electric current of giddy delight charged through me…

Tom Hanks Just Nailed Trump Fans In This Hilarious “Jeopardy” Skit!

Tom Hanks nailing Trump supporters? How great is that!? I was about to feel good about my cozy liberal agenda by laughing at the “deplorables” with Tom Hanks!  

But the SNL sketch was far different. Hanks plays a man who shares far more with the black community than either ever knew. He knows the answers to Black Jeopardy – answers that only black people were suppose to know.

Wait, I wanted the black folk to eviscerate a racist bumpkin. And what happens is the opposite – respect, common ground, laughter, mutual appreciation. And laughs.

According to screenwriting teacher Robert McKee, comedy exists to expose hypocrisy in institutions that need to be exposed. Comedy tells the truth. And in this sketch, the truth is not that black people have an interesting and entertainingly specific culture. Nor that disenfranchised white people are ignorant racists.


The truth being revealed is these two groups have more in common with each other than they do with me. Tom Hanks’ Trump supporter isn’t the butt of the joke. It’s us liberals, leaning towards our screen, licking our chops, waiting the good hick-skewering. But Hanks delivers something so different – tenderness, confusion, wonder. It’s our own assumptions that black folk are going make a fool out of a hick that creates this wonderfully compassionate piece of comedy.

The art of comedy holds the absurd truth up to the mirror. We’re all in this together. Black people, Trump supporters and liberals. We’re all being stirred into a big murky stew. However, the first two ingredients are blending and the third is waiting for the next Occupy Democrats post.

Time to unsubscribe.