Elon Musk Says ‘The Essence of Comedy Is to Reveal the Truth’ While Twitter Helps Authoritarian Governments Conceal the Truth
The man whose sense of humor can summarily be described as “stealing memes from The Hard Drive and removing the watermark” expressed some high-minded ideals about the fundamental principles of funny during an interview with the conservative satire site and possible Ron DeSantis astroturfing organization The Babylon Bee yesterday. Musk’s argument about the philosophy of humor boils down to his idea that only conservatives can make effective comedy because comedy is about truth, and all liberals do is lie to themselves and others.
Meanwhile, international criticism of the “free speech absolutist” and his capitulation to authoritarian regimes around the world has increased in the last week after data released by Twitter revealed that, since Musk took over the platform in October, the number of requests from autocratic governments to have accounts and tweets from journalists and opposition members removed from the site has nearly tripled, with Musk’s administration approving 83 percent of all such appeals (up from 50 percent in the year prior to his takeover). According to Musk, truth is essential to comedy, but not to elections.
"The essence of comedy is to reveal the truth,” said Musk. “A hidden truth that people understand intuitively or explicitly, and there’s that moment of revealed, kernel of often unacknowledged truth. And in that unacknowledged truth is the humor.” He added, “If you’re premised on a lie, you can no longer be funny, because there’s no revealed truth.”
Musk believes that this is, essentially, why he thinks that only conservatives can be comedians, because the liberal viewpoint is based on a denial of truth, making vague allusions to the tired “You just can’t joke about anything anymore” argument. Said Musk, “A lot of people on the left have no sense of humor. They’re not funny. If there are so many no-fly zones that you have to avoid all the time then there’s nothing left to make fun about."
For all his sanctimony about truth and freedom of speech, Musk’s actions as the boss of Twitter have betrayed an opposite set of ideals — one of Musk’s first moves after taking over the company was to gut the platform’s misinformation team just days before the U.S. midterm elections, hamstringing Twitter’s ability to control and counter attempts to sway voters with malicious lies. On May 12th, Twitter made a startling announcement that it had “taken action to restrict access to some content in Turkey today,” banning accounts and limiting tweets two days before a critical election in a country where the government controls all national media. The despotic President Erdogan extended his reign into its third decade in the runoff election this past weekend.
Meanwhile, the only significant effort made by Twitter to curtail actual deceptive practices on the platform was the retaliatory effort to stop comedians from impersonating Elon Musk after the disastrous launch of Twitter Blue opened the floodgates for anyone to buy a blue check and pretend to be Musk, George W. Bush or Lockheed Martin to hilarious effect.
When Musk says that only Republicans can be funny, his argument isn’t actually derived from lofty moralizing about the importance of truth or free speech — it’s because they’re the only people who don’t make fun of him.