Even the most serious of situations - like momentous and violent political/cultural shifts - can produce some humor. As protests in Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign grind on towards their third week, a little levity has slipped into the public discussion of the situation.
In Egypt, the most recent humorous meme is the creation of a new verb via the Twittersphere. Internet entrepreneur Samih Toukan recently began asking his thousands of Twitter followers to use the word "Mubarak" as a verb.
Here's what they came up with:
#Mubaraked : 1) To fail to get the hint, regardless of how obvious it may be; 2) to farcically outstay one's welcome
#Mubaraked : to Stick something or to glue something. ex "i will punch u and Mubarak u to the wall"
#Mubaraked: To get stuck to a chair when u stand up
#Mubaraked: 'I invited a friend round for dinner last night, but they didn't leave till 12 despite my yawns. They really Mubaraked'
#Mubaraked : You are currently addicted and 'Mubaraked' to Twitter
Protesters on the ground have also taken the opportunity to show some humor. Here is a sampling of some of the signs being held in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of protests:
"Please leave... my arm hurts."
"Please leave. I got married 20 days ago and I miss my wife."
"Please leave. I want to get a haircut."
Protesters have also been responding to outrageous reports on state media with humor. One such report accused "external agitators" of giving the protesters daily luxury meals and pay them each $100 per day.
One protester told the Turkish daily Hurriyet in response: "I came to get the [Kentucky Fried Chicken] or the $100 but I can't find it," said protester Khaled Badawy, who laughed while putting on a yellow wig. The sign he carried read, "I'm a spy, holding an agenda and asking for a KFC meal."
American comedians have also found ample material in Egypt's protests, especially relating to Mubarak's overstayed welcome. Here are some samples:
Bill Maher - "All of the Arab potentates and their fat cat entourages are on the run. Tunisia's president is leaving, Mubarak is not going to run for re-election, the guy in Yemen is going to leave. This is great news -- not necessarily for the Middle East, but for real estate agents in Beverly Hills."
Conan O'Brien - "Hosni's son Gamal Mubarak says he does not want to become President, which is just as well. If you've seen one Mubarak you've seen Gamal."
"Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he would resign, but Egypt would then descend into chaos. Then he said, 'Now, I have to go look out a window for the first time in two weeks.'"
Jimmy Fallon - "Egyptian President Mubarak's son Gamal will not run for President. Why would he? An unpopular President is removed from office and his inexperienced son is voted in? That could never happen."
Jay Leno - "Now Egyptians are demanding to see President Mubarak's birth certificate. There's a rumor he was born in New Jersey."
The comedian Andy Borowitz has had a field day over Mubarak's situation on his Twitter feed. Some samples:
"Mubarak is warning Egypt that if he resigns, there will be chaos "worse than the halftime show."
"Mubarak's new plan is to stick around long enough until hipsters start liking him in an ironic way."
"Mubarak remains defiant: "I will step down when Barbara Walters does."
"BREAKING: Mubarak has agreed to depart, but insists on taking JetBlue, so departure will be delayed."