4/7/2013 – – I just came from watching the national tour version of The Book of Mormon. I left at the intermission and I feel I should take a shower. I admit I was worried about a show whose premise is making fun of Mormons, but the first part of the first act is pretty funny. It’s a jokey atmosphere because not that much is at stake. Making fun of the good-natured goofiness that these writers see in the Church of Latter-Day Saints can be very funny. It also helps that the Church advertises in the show bulletin, so the Mormons are not offended. Well, presumably.
But when the mission in the show gets to Uganda and there is real misery, I began to feel uncomfortable at the jokey atmosphere. And I guess I don’t find it that funny that people in their misery sing a song that translates, F* you God.
Then, toward the end of the first act, in order to set up a dramatic tension, a man is shot dead in the face and a dictator threatens female mutilation of every woman in the village. And it is still a jokey atmosphere. That’s when I left. And by the way I would like to apologize to a former student who asked me as I left the building how I liked the show and I told him. That was, as they say, self-righteousness walking.
At least the play The Producers understood that the jokes about Hitler were in terrible taste and the movie never showed any actually evil acts being performed. I don’t think Springtime for Hitler would’ve been regarded as funny if Jews were being gassed as it was being sung. Well, the Show the Book of Mormon is like that. I don’t know why everyone did not leave.
There can be humor in terrible conditions. Indeed humor in such a circumstance can be a saving grace. But, even so, misery itself is not funny.