THINGS ARE "BACK TO NORMAL" on late-night television in Afghanistan in that there is no television in Afghanistan. Still, Afghanistan's irrepressible late-night comics have settled into a groove and are confronting America's war on terrorism with scathing material and a commitment to martyrdom. Leading the pack, as he does whenever there's something wacky in the news, is Jai al-Leno, the Taliban's "Minister of Monologue."
"Lets see whats happening over in the Evil Empire. Oh yes. Because of the bombing that would be the bombing in THIS country, by the way they postponed the 53rd Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. [audience: "awwwwww"] Thats right. Thats right. But we had to cancel some big entertainment events in Afghanistan Sunday night, as well. For instance, over in the football stadium, they had to postpone the Talibans Seventh Annual Marching of the Women Whove Committed Adultery and Shooting Them In the Back of the Head Festival. [laughs] You should have seen the dress Bjork was planning on wearing to THAT." [cheers]
"Have you heard about this popular American game show, Survivor? It's where they put 16 people in the middle of nowhere, with no food and no water. Sound familiar? [laughs] Maybe the last person in Afghanistan will win a million dollars. [riotous guffaws] Personally, I voted for Osama but apparently everyone in the Taliban voted for Diane." [hoots and whistles]
"So the Devil in Chief George W. Bush asked every American child to donate a dollar to help the suffering children of Afghanistan. [audience: "awwwww"] Yep, and around the same time, Mullah Mohammed Omar asked every Afghan child to begin preparation for a lifetime of holy war in which he hopes they will be martyred after leading thousands of Western infidels to their fiery deaths. [clapping] Because, you know, jihad is really about the kids."
"Before the Americans launch the cruise missiles at us, they usually write a funny insult on the side, or paint 'NYPD' on the nose, just to rub it in a little. And of course, most of the Taliban's weapons were given to them by America, to use against the Soviets. [self-satisfied muttering at the recognition of irony] That's true. Unfortunately, most of those missiles are so old now that they all say 'Sit on it, Potsie!'" [roars of nostalgic glee]
"As you know, there are protests against the U.S. bombing campaign all over the world. Even on American college campuses, some students are protesting against the war. Can you believe that? I mean, what does Osama have to do to terrorize American undergrads? Take Captain Crunch out of the dining hall? [loud "Whoa!"] One of these so-called American 'feminists' [boos] all right, okay now one of these feminists even wrote an article for New Yorker Magazine saying that the hijackers had 'courage' and were just responding to 'specific American alliances and actions.' Man, I wish I had six wives like HER!" [side-splitting squeals]
"Representatives of Osama bin Laden told CNN that the slumping of the American economy is proof that Al Qaeda is winning the war [skeptical murmuring]. No really. That's good news. Tonight when my family and I are cowering from the shrapnel of bunker-busting bombs and fleeing the relentless hail of bullets from US Special Forces gunships, it will be very comforting to know that Motorola might miss its third-quarter estimates." [jingoistic cheering]
"Now let me get this straight: Some of the American planes are dropping bombs and some of the American planes are dropping food. They must really think we love Saltines if they expect us to take those odds. [applause, yelps] You just know there are a couple of poor guys standing on the runway at the Kandahar Airport. [Jai looks up, staggers about, and holds his arms out like hes trying to catch something] 'You never know, Abdullah! The next one could be a hoagie!'" [ecstatic yodeling]
John Warner and Kevin Guilfoile