Saint John — While little is known about what caused the explosion at the Irving Oil refinery back in October, it was generally accepted that it was not something that ought to be joked about.
This became a major topic of discussion when New Brunswick “satire” website The Narwhal published a fake article on the subject just days after the blast in a cynical attempt shock its readers.
“It’s all about the shares,” site co-founder Amy Rosen told The Manatee, with a disinterested shrug. “Whether it’s a hate-click or not, it makes no difference to our advertisers.”
“Huhhh…yeah,” added business partner Dwayne Barr, picking his nose with an untwisted coat hanger.
The article, entitled, “Refinery explosion was really just fart from J.K. Irving’s butt,” was similar in execution to much of the low-brow, sub-literate humour found on the site. However, due to its sensitive subject matter, the article drew ire from several online commenters who (rightly) felt the “joke” came too soon after the traumatic event.
As justified as this anger was, it did raise the question — when would be an appropriate time to make jokes about the disaster? The Irvings soon took it upon themselves to answer this question.
“Shortly after the Narwhal story, we adopted this problem as our own,” Irving spokesperson Emily Laidman told a group of reporters gathered at the recently developed Irving Institute For Satire Development. “We figured that it would be best for everyone if we took total control of the messaging surrounding the explosion.”
She explained that they gathered a small team of comedy experts who studied hundreds of humorous films and novels to determine when it is most appropriate to make light of a tragic situation.
“For example, the recently released The Death of Stalin came out 65 years after the event, while the Mel Brooks comedy Spaceballs was made 10 years after the first Star Wars,” she explained. “Both of these films knew precisely when it was socially acceptable to parody these subjects.”
Using these as well as other films and literature as examples, the team was able to develop an algorithm that could determine when it would finally be OK to joke about the explosion.
“For this specific case, we weighed the trauma of the situation against the fact that nobody was seriously injured and fed these numbers in to our algorithm,” she said, pulling the printed results from the computer.
“….Four months and three days,” she read, before waving the piece of paper over her head. “The explosion has been funny for almost a week now!”
The room suddenly burst into a round of relieved giggles.
Still chuckling, Laidman wiped a tear from her eye and regained the attention of the reporters, telling them she had a joke prepared for this exact moment.
“What were the Irvings most thankful for this past Thanksgiving?” she asked, coyly, pausing for effect.
“…Accident insurance!” she cried, as the crowd erupted into howling laughter.