Youssef had been on The Daily Show some months back and Jon Stewart was returning the favor. It was all very light-hearted and funny, but with serious overtones all the time. Both men kidded each other about getting in trouble for poking fun at the government and other self-important institutions. Apparently the Egyptian government has actually charged Youssef with insulting the president, Mohamed Morsi. On that point, Jon Stewart waxed philosophical and said, “If your regime is not strong enough to handle a joke, then you don’t have a regime.” It drew significant applause.
The Trickster archetype (a la Joseph Campbell and Chris Vogler) is a source of storytelling energy. It’s their unpredictability that ups the stakes. Real life tricksters: the court jester, the cut-up, the class clown bring much more than just spontaneity to their “scene.” It’s their irreverence that contributes to the health of whatever institution is brave enough to abide their presence. I heard it said, and believe it’s true that the one thing power-hungry people cannot abide is ridicule. That said, truly powerful people have the strength to withstand a joke.
And that’s not much of a story. I will do better next time.