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The Humor of Melvin Durai

January 2009
The Humor of Melvin Durai

A school principal in La Vergne, Tennessee, recently wrote a humor column that poked fun at President-elect Obama and found himself in so much hot water, he decided that it would be wise, as well as efficient, to skip his weekly bath.

Stephen Lewis, principal of Rock Springs Elementary, has been writing a weekly humor column for The Murfreesboro Post for about two years. In fact, it would be accurate to say that he's the Post's principal humor columnist.

But he was virtually unknown outside his county until he wrote his post-election column, in which he did something rather original: create a parody of "The Jeffersons" theme song. In his version, Obama was "movin' on up ... to a deee-luxe pimp pad," "jetting with P. Diddy" and "chewin' on the government fat." Obama's supporters and others found it extremely offensive, naturally, that Lewis would even suggest that Obama hangs out with P. Diddy. (Never mind that 10-year-old Malia Obama wears a T-shirt that says "Daddy loves Diddy.")

P. Diddy, for those of you who don't know, is the stage name of a popular rap artist and should not be confused with Diddy P., the question I ask whenever I check my little son's diaper.

Most readers, in truth, didn't mind the Diddy reference, but were outraged by the racial stereotypes that a school principal, of all people, had resorted to. Lewis was soon apologizing to just about everyone: readers, parents, teachers, school board members and pimps. He'll be lucky if he's able to retain his job, his column and his title of "Funniest Principal Alive." (He was also in the running for "Sexiest Principal Alive," but for the 30th consecutive year, it went to Victoria Principal.)

When a student misbehaves, he's sent to the principal's office. When a principal misbehaves, he should be sent to the student's office. Most students don't have offices, of course. They have lockers. I'm sure a student wouldn't mind keeping Lewis inside one for a few hours. He'd learn his lesson pretty quickly, especially if it's a typical male student's locker, filled with books, sneakers and the scent of a never-washed pair of gym socks.

But if we really want to punish Lewis, we should get him to spend the next few months reading all the Internet comments his column provoked:

CoolDude3129: "What an idiot! He shouldn't have apologized.

I don't see how it's racist to make jokes about Obama, especially when making jokes about President Bush is a national sport."

EbonyGoddess543: "It's not a national sport, you bonehead.

It's an international sport! More popular than soccer."

HotChick89: "Lewis is eight years behind. The White House hasn't been a pimp pad since Bill Clinton left."

EbonyGoddess543: "Yeah, for the last eight years, it has been a chimp pad."

CoolDude3129: "Hey, how come it's okay for you to call Bush a chimp? Artists have been making Bush look like a monkey for eight years, but the moment you put a banana in the same picture as Obama, you're a racist."

EbonyGoddess543: "That's because Bush IS a monkey."

CoolDude 3129:"Shut up, you moron! Don't you know that Bush and Obama have the same size ears?"

EbonyGoddess543: "Yeah, but do they have the same size brains?"

Joe6Pack: "You are the biggest racist in the world!"

EbonyGoddess543: "I'm not a racist. I'm African American!

When black people make fun of white people, it's not racism.

It's Def Comedy Jam."

Joe6Pack: "Wait a minute. Obama is half white and half black. Would it be okay to make jokes about half of him?"

EbonyGoddess543: "Of course it would. Just make sure you pick the right half."

Joe6Pack: "Okay, here's a joke: The right half of Obama wanted to eat a bunch of bananas. The left half said, 'We've been elected president. We need to give a good impression.'

And the right half replied, 'You're absolutely right. Do you want to hold the fork or should I?'"


As a kid, I climbed dozens of trees, but never got paid to do so, not even when the president or prime minister came to town. So I'm somewhat envious of the Indian teenagers who were paid Rs.120 each to climb trees and look out for bad guys during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Visva Bharati University near Kolkata. My parents were wrong: money does grow on trees.

"We have been asked to keep a close watch on any movement in the trees," student Jayanta Das told a correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. "We have also been instructed to shake the trees from time to time to ensure that all is fine.”

They were not just looking for bad guys, apparently. They were also looking for snakes. It would be quite an embarrassment for India if a snake fell out of a tree and bit the Prime Minister. Especially if the snake had slithered all the way from Pakistan.

The Telegraph called it “the latest example of India's chaotic and incompetent security measures.” That seems really unfair, especially coming from a newspaper in Britain, where, last I heard, Prime Minister Gordon Brown puts himself at great risk, visiting towns and cities where trees have not been shaken.

Police chief L N Meena said he didn’t have enough policemen to check all the trees. "The area is full of trees, so to check them to see if there were any anti-social elements or anyone making mischief, we employed the youths," he said.

Makes a lot of sense to me. If only the police had hired me when I was a teen. Instead, just for climbing trees, I was accused of being an anti-social element making mischief.


1. A 70-year-old Haryana woman gave birth to a baby girl after receiving fertility treatment.

2. Aamir Khan wrote a blog post praising Shahrukh – the actor, not his dog.

3. Three Sikh religious musicians were removed from a US Airways flight after the pilot refused to fly with them on board.

4. An Indian student at the University of Michigan invented an alarm clock that will also open your window shades.

5. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich turned down an invitation from politicians in India to conduct a training seminar there.

(1,3 and 4 really happened)


(Excerpts from actual matrimonial ads on the Internet)

She’s looking for an equal: “I am homely girl, want a groom who is equilant to my bio-data.”

She’s looking for a mama’s boy: “If you’re attached to your mom, you get a star. If you love kids, you get a double star. We are so much in tune.”

He can take you for a ride: “I like taking long walks on the beach ... I can write lots of similar misleading stuff on here if that is what it takes for you to contact me.”

He’s ready to spoil you: “I am a self-made millionaire who is living it up in NYC. ? Currently, I am looking for a beautiful woman who I can spoil for the rest of my life.”


Punjabi Girl


A parody from the show “Goodness Gracious Me.”

Let’s do the things we normally do


Singer Dido’s music video portraying a female cabbie in Mumbai.

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