“Gentlemen, we have run out of money.  It’s time to start thinking.”

- Ernest Rutherford, British explorer

- quoted sometime after 1910


Political analysts unaffiliated with The Onion suggested Monday that Silvio Berlusconi and upstart challenger Beppe Grillo may have enough votes between them to form a new, coalition government in Italy.  If this assessment turns out to be correct, it will be the first time in Italian history (and perhaps world history) where two definitively professional comedians will attempt to lead the Italian people.

Analysts sifting through the basel-laced tea leaves in Rome – while also grappling with the first papal resignation in … oh, several hundreds years anyway – said the only precedent for such a coalition in modern times may be the famed American leadership team of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, in the mid-1960s.  Historians in the United States and Europe told reporters in Rome today they were sifting through world election records to determine if there has ever been a more hilarious team of rivals than the one which descended on the American people during the dark days when former senator Chuck Hagel was plotting to become the American defense secretary while actually serving in combat in Vietnam, simultaneously sending secret messages to North Korea, and studying the vast unpublished works of the Friends of Hamas.

Emergency maintenance has been ordered for the CHNN Flying Boat, currently parked in a wheat storage facility in Bismarck, North Dakota, in the event of a special  CHNN order for immediate, on-site coverage by famed CHNN special correspondent Harlan Harrington.  The crack scribbler will be assisted by the ginormous, unpaid, freakin’ harried, worldwide CHNN stringer team, subject to a relaxation of draconian budget considerations imposed by CHNN management (rumors in Boston also have it that CHNN may issue a ridiculous lowball bid to acquire The Boston Globe from The New York Times).

Harrington, freelancing in Los Angeles for Oscar night, said from the Vanity Fair after hours Oscar ball, he stands ready to pounce on the news from Italy, despite his need to wrap up any number of fluff interviews and fashion blather with stars from James Franco to Myley Cyrus to Kim Kardashian.  Harrington, while enjoying a smoothie on the beach, whined on his Twitter account that it “sure would be a hardship” covering real news these days, since he makes so much money covering virtually nothing – virtually.  But the grizzled veteran of the Serious International Reporting community said he would try to catch a red-rye into Bismarck, fire up the Flying Boat, and head to Rome, if that’s what the story required.

In an unexpected development, Onion news management issued a statement early Tuesday morning, saying they wanted Harrington to take the Italian assignment for them, and said they were ready to make a sky-high offer to prove it, with the inducement of a mothballed Trump Empire jet, fueled and ready in a private hangar at LaGuardia Airport to whisk Harrington to Italy.

CHNN management had no comment on that competitive gambit from The Onion.

Berlusconi and Grillo both said Monday they had no intention of being funny while ruling Italy. “Serious times demand serious leaders,” Berlusconi said, flashing his toothy grin at a young woman sitting near a gurgling fountain.  Across town, Grillo was stone-faced while trying to project a Rushmorean image to Roman reporters.  “No funny business today!” Grillo said, assuming a stern pose in front of chortling photographers.  The pair also cautioned they could not be held accountable for unintended consequences, such as Italian voters dying of laughter within weeks, while waiting for new leadership team to form, or about rumors that the retired pope might offer his services as a mediator should unprecedented gridlock descend upon the nation.  Berlusconi and Grillo each said however that Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the vote-getting center-left Democratic Party, was really funny when he said sensible Italians want him to form a sober, responsible government.

Dario Fo, Italy’s greatest living clown, normally a font of guffaws, said early Tuesday he found it impossible – for reasons he could not explain – to laugh at the Italian election returns.  Fo said he looked out his window on Monday, opened his mouth and nothing came out.




  1. cocktailhag says:

    Thanks, Harlan, for stepping up to the plate; as you may know CHNN is more than usually penurious and short-staffed, owing to the imminent relocation of World Headquarters from Park to 1st and the attendant renovations that must be done by April 1. That, and its proprietress has some pretty daunting outside projects currently underway, which may or may not involve acquiring additional outlets.

    • dirigo says:

      How about that bid for the Globe? Some of my nefarious media mavens here on the right coast wouldn’t mind taking over the place on behalf of “foreign” ownership from Oregon; and as a hometown boy, I could head things up as managing editor for you. They know me there, or used to anyway. Just think: the Times bought the Globe around 1993 for near a billion. It’s a steal!

      A cool $90 million might do it. But you better hurry. Rumor has it Rupert may try to undercut even the local interests who may want to protect Boston’s “voice.”

      • cocktailhag says:

        Well, I’ll have to talk to my fellow heirs, but I’m guessing that Rupert might beat me for the Globe, as he so often does.
        And the sofa cushions are empty, too… Someone evidently broke in and spent their bounty on a baby grand for the new place.

  2. mikeinportc says:

    Let’s hope. They should kill. ( In the showbiz way, not the D.C.clownshow way.) ;)

    Btw, in a sort of sort of related point I was remiss on one point. A better term might be ” Recovering Catholic”, rather than “lapsed”. Sounds better, and is probably more accurate. ;)

  3. mikeinportc says:

    Remiss , on the last post, that is . Sorry, I was typing while looking through the bottom of my ( 2nd or 3rd?) upturned cocktail glass. ;) ( Hard cider + wine my bro gave me , that doesn’t quite do it for me. Good in combo though. :) )

  4. Ché Pasa says:

    Clown Grillo had this to say about that (as quoth the Beeb):

    “Today in Italy, what will happen is what happened before. The right and the left will get together and will govern a country of rubble that they are responsible for,” he said.

    “It will last a year. One. Maximum. Then there will be elections again. And once again, in the elections, the Five-Star movement will change the world,” he added.

    He then went on to redeem himself before God and the Pope in Rome, whose see is vacant:

    (continuing from the Beeb):

    “There was no hope. It was an anger without hope. It is anger without hope that creates violence,” he explained.

    “But anger with hope is a different kind of anger, an optimistic anger, it is not negative. We are containing this rage, so they should thank me. It is a democratic rage that is needed to go forward.”

    On his blog, Mr Grillo also published a mocked-up film poster depicting Mr Bersani as a “Dead Man Talking”, based on the 1950 Italian comedy, 47 Morto Che Parla. (see: )

    “Bersani is a political stalker,” Mr Grillo wrote. “It’s been days that he has been bothering the M5S with indecent proposals rather than resigning [the leadership of the PD], as anyone else would have done in his place.”

    Comedy. Gold.

    I’d say Harlan got it just right. Brilliant.

    • dirigo says:

      Thanks. As Hag can confirm: drama is easy; comedy is hard (except when it’s all laid out for you, like a corpse).

  5. Meremark says:


    The first two roaming clowns in History?

    Don’t forget Romulus and Remus. You know them, to remember them is to love them. They did the pot pastiche movies — ‘Going up in smoke,’ and sequel ‘Going higher up in more smokey and the band.’ They had a comedy act, too, as I relove it. Using imported punch lines.

    Po boys. They ruled!


  6. Meremark says:

    Teh grope smokes Pope.