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Commentary

Auchter's Art: The pandemic glass

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John Auchter
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There is a classic skit from the 1960s comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in which a reporter (Moore) interviews an eccentric gentleman (Cook) who owns a restaurant. A transcript is below, but to truly understand the humor (and their impeccable timing), I encourage you to listen for yourself.

So after introductions and a bit of banter, the reporter asks the restaurant owner when he started his restaurant:

Restaurant Owner: I believe it was shortly after World War II. You remember that, World War II?

Reporter: Well, certainly, yes.

Restaurant Owner: Absolutely ghastly business.

Reporter: Oh, yes.

Restaurant Owner: Absolutely ghastly business.

Reporter: Yes, indeed.

Restaurant Owner: I was completely against it.

Reporter (slight pause as the audience catches on to the absurd obviousness of what was just said): Well, I think, I think we all were.

Restaurant Owner (indigently): Well I wrote a letter!

I share this with you for a couple of reasons. One, as we close in on a year of the pandemic and enter the depths of a Michigan February, my mind naturally turns to escapism, and this sketch always makes me laugh. By the way, the title is, "The Frog and Peach," which is the name (and menu) of the restaurant. It's rare these days to find anything that can top the ridiculousness of real life.

The second (and more the inspiration of the cartoon) is that our one very thin slice of common ground may be that we are all against the virus itself. Given the opportunity this time last year, we all would have said, "COVID-19 virus? No thank you. Let's not do that." Just as we would decline a world war. But for that commonality to be true, we need to believe others (even those we don't like) would make the same choice. And that's the hard part.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.