Just reread this jewel, Alexander the Great, Shouts and Murmurs, New Yorker March 12 2012.
Another young genius from Saturday Night Live. How come they are so turgid at SNL, which seems to be nothing but boring satires of TV shows when last we looked??
SHOUTS & MURMURS
ALEXANDER THE GREAT
BY JACK HANDEY
MARCH 12, 2012
“You conquered that last week,” his top general said. “We haven’t had time to color it in yet.”
When Alexander started out, the world was fresh and new, begging to be conquered. At the age of ten, he conquered all of Greece, clad only in his underpants. He went on to vanquish the vast empire of Persia while totally nude and drunk. He woke up from sleepwalking one morning to discover that he had conquered Egypt. Once, he laid siege to a fortress all by himself, sneaking from bush to bush and popping up behind each one, pretending to be a different soldier.
There had been difficulties, to be sure. At a raucous victory dinner, a chicken bone became stuck in his throat. As he reached for a glass of water, he touched off a mousetrap, then another, and another. He began to flail about, and his foot got stuck in a bucket. Even like this, he conquered India.
On and on he went, conquering kingdom after kingdom. His generals would plead with him to stop, but he’d say, “Come on, just one more,” and they’d say, “Well, O.K.”
His empire became so large that, even today, if you meet a woman in a bar and invite her up to your apartment to see a map of Alexander’s empire, when she gets there and you show it to her she always says the same thing: “You’ve got to be kidding.”
Alexander smashed every army sent against him, slaughtering thousands. Those who fled the battlefield were hunted down and killed. Women and children were sold into slavery. But the happy times could not last. Eventually, there were no more people left to conquer.
“What about the Assyrians?” Alexander asked his generals.
“We conquered them,” one of them replied.
“O.K., how about the Bactrians?”
“Con-quered,” several generals said, in singsong.
Alexander was getting desperate. “What if we gave countries their freedom, then conquered them again?” The generals looked down at their feet. One coughed.
“Very well, then, I shall conquer the birds of the sky,” he said, but he was reminded that he had already done so, and also that he had been given an eloquent tribute speech by a parrot.
“What about the ants? Can’t we conquer them?” Reluctantly, one general unfurled a tiny document of surrender.
Seeking to console Alexander, the wisest of his counsellors said, “Perhaps, master, what you truly seek is not to conquer but to be conquered.”
Alexander picked up a spear and ran him through.
Rallying his troops, Alexander had them build a primitive rocket ship. He travelled to the moon with thirty hand-chosen men, holding their breath. They utterly surprised the moon men and laid waste to their planet.
In what was perhaps his greatest victory, Alexander conquered half the Kingdom of Heaven. Using sappers to undermine the pearly gates, he and his army poured in, riding captured war elephants, trampling angels and saints. But Heaven, as he realized, “is mostly clouds,” and he wisely withdrew.
Alexander was preparing to journey to another universe, which he hoped to burn down, when he died. At first, his generals didn’t believe it, but then his body was brought out, still clutching his sword and wearing his newly fashioned “space suit.”
They say that he was buried in the Caucasus, among the crocuses, but no one knows for sure. Legend has it that he will return again one day, perhaps in the not too distant future, when the world is once more in need of a good conquering. ♦
Jack Handey, comic genius.