THOUGH THE TALIBAN REGIME banned television after seizing power in 1996, much of middle Afghanistan has great regard for Jai al-Leno, a late-night comedian known as the "Minister of Monologue." The following jokes were told by al-Leno last night and were leaked to the Al Jazeera network by Mullah Salam Zucker, the Taliban entertainment president.
"Americas Time magazine has an article this week measuring the risk of biological terrorist weapons." [snorts] "If they want to smell a real biological attack, they should spend four weeks in a cave with Osama and his lamb kebobs. Whoo-eee!" [waves hand in front of face]
"Okay, okay, I kid Osama, but hes a gentleman and a servant of God. In fact, Osama takes the Taliban restriction against trimming your beard so seriously that hes issued a fatwa against Tom Cruise for cutting off Nicole." [wild whoops and applause]
"You know, its TV premiere week over in the Great Satan. I cant watch because television is an abomination before the Lord, but I hear that in this weeks King of Queens the wife of the so-called King goes to work, goes to school, and drives a car all in the first ten minutes." [audience jeers and hisses] "I also hear that they have three shows called Law and Order and not one of them features beheading or the chopping off of hands." [chuckling and clapping] "Know the biggest difference between Americas prison system and the Taliban prison system? Prisons!" [squeals of delight]
"Only 30% of Afghans know how to read, but the most widely read book over here is the Koran. Americas literacy rate is over 90% but do you know what the most widely read book is in the U.S.? Do you? TV Guide! Thats rightwere being attacked by people who couldn't recognize the first sura but who are stumped by crossword clues like Lets ______ a Deal." [howls of laughter]
"Did you hear? Jesse Jackson volunteered to come over and negotiate on behalf of the Great Satan. That's true. But then he realized that, since the Taliban has eliminated the media, over here hed just be a whore." [crowd offers a low, reproachful "Oooooo." Deflecting their reaction, al-Leno pantomimes shock and dismay. Tickled, the crowd guffaws and claps.]
John Warner and Kevin Guilfoile