The earth is actually Whoville and we were being protected by a giant elephant but there are evil creatures out to get us, now.

The sun is not gone but it does have COVID-19 and is in quarantine.

You won’t find many jokes about the native American genocide or the Nazi Holocaust. Jokes about lepers and people with gross deformities are sparse as are those about Hiroshima, people on the autism spectrum, premature babies and teenagers with cancer.

Jokes about pedophiles and spouse abuse are off the table as are yuks about hospice, suicide and lynchings. And don’t even go near the grandaddy of all American tragedies, the Sept. 11 attacks. I did find a few 9/11 jokes but most are pretty lame like this one:

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Nine-eleven.”

“Nine-eleven who?”

“You said you’d never forget!”

(Barely a chuckle).

So why are there so many outrageously funny COVID-19 jokes already? COVID-19 has mercilessly killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world and it’s just getting started in the U.S. Italy, Spain, China and the U.S. have lock downs. Hospitals lack ventilators and have to triage those who have the greatest chance for survival.

The pandemic doesn’t sound very funny but people want to laugh and they will give a lot of rope to those who make the jokes. Some say that 9/11 jokes are off limits because the wound is still too open and recent. Then why are jokes about a tragedy unfolding before us so common?

I think it’s because we haven’t yet seen the gruesome realities of COVID-19. The terrorist attacks were so violent, so graphic and so many people instantly lost their lives. It did not make for funny stuff because people were too angry.

In the time of COVID-19 people are still very angry but there is nobody to blame unless you want to accept the Trumpian explanation of the “Chinese Pandemic.” And when people are angry they have to find ways to vent and laughter is a good tool.

The explosion in social media has undoubtedly helped feed the pandemic joke universe. Just brouse through Facebook and the laughs seem to be unending.

Or maybe we are just so much more jaded and there is so much more tragedy going on that we’re so needy and willing to laugh at just about anything.

It is an odd time when the president of the United States is the butt of so many jokes while he is probably the least funny president we’ve ever had. His idea of humor is to belittle others. Not funny. The economy is crashing, home grown terrorism is growing, major world alliances are unraveling and an enormous hatred is seething in the U.S. between the Trumpers and everybody else.

It doesn’t seem too funny. But.

Here’s a joke that combines the pandemic and the man in the White House:

“Three days ago, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump was visited by the ghost of George Washington.

“George,” Trump asked, “how can I fix this? How do I make America great again?”

“Never tell a lie.”

“I don’t lie. Go away.”

“Two days ago, he was visited by the ghost of Thomas Jefferson.

“Hey, Tom, how do I fix this? How can I make America great again?”

“Listen to the people.”

“I know what I’m doing. I listen to the best people. The best ones.”

Last night, while down at Mar-a-Lago, he was visited by the ghost of Abraham Lincoln.

“Hey, Abe, how do I fix this? How can I make America great again?”

“Go see a play.”

And for pandemic jokes, here are a few more.

“Ninety people catch the H1N1 and everyone wants to wear a mask. Five million people have AIDS and nobody wants to wear condom!”

“1,000 people die of influenza A in a rich country, it is the pandemic. Millions die of malaria in Africa, this is their problem.”

One of the funniest films ever involved a pandemic of many years ago, the Black Plague. Here’s an excerpt from one scene from the film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

ERIC IDLE: (As Dead Collector) “Bring out your dead.”

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) “Here’s one.”

IDLE: (As Dead Collector) “He says he’s not dead.”

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) “Yes, he is.”

JOHN YOUNG: (As Dead Body) “I’m not.”

IDLE: (As Dead Collector) “He isn’t?”

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) “Well, he will be soon. He’s very ill.”

YOUNG: (As Dead Body) “I’m getting better.”

JOHN CLEESE: (As character) “No, you’re not. You’ll be stone dead in a moment.”

IDLE: (As Dead Collector) “I can’t take him like that.”

You had to be there to really appreciate the humor. Even if you can’t appreciate it, there will no doubt be a continuing flood of humor at a time in history that doesn’t seem very funny.

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer