He’s dead. We get it. The parade will go on for another month or so and then new evidence will surface surrounding his death. A month later someone will come forward with some story that opens up more controversy that can be talked about for two more weeks after that. Like Reagan or Anna Nicole, celebrity deaths annoy me. Another body in the ground. Let it be.

North Korea is still acting crazy and Iran is in the middle of an amazing revolution. We lost a good one, now let’s get back to the real news.

He had an amazing solo career that spanned four decades. He donated ridiculous amounts of money to more charity organizations than I could ever begin to list. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He invented the moonwalk. He also may or may not have molested a thousand little boys and he slept with a monkey for part of his adult life.

None of that swayed me either way. I have had his entire discography on my iPod for a long time and neither his past nor his death will make me listen any more or less. I just like the music. Now that he’s dead though, everybody seems to want to voice their opinion in his defense. This is my plea to stop that.

It’s not that I think its okay to joke about the death of a human being, but this is Michael Jackson. I don’t mean it’s okay because he was weird, and he WAS weird. That part I get. I’m guessing that fame can make you lose it a little bit, especially on his level. Independent studies show that I have somewhere between 12 and 15 fans, and that makes me turn my phone off and hide for a week straight sometimes. I get the weirdness.

But he was MICHAEL JACKSON.

The jokes don’t make fun of a person, the jokes make fun of an idea. A character. The concept of “Michael Jackson”. On the inside most people have a little kid that loves to tell tasteless jokes. How many Dead Baby jokes can you rattle off right now? I’m guessing more than one. I’m also guessing that you can dish out an even longer list of Michael Jackson jokes. My personal favorite:

Why does Michael Jackson like to sleep with twenty nine year old boys?

Because there’s twenty of them…

I’m sorry, but that’s hilarious.

Not one person was ever upset by that joke prior to yesterday. Nobody stepped up to defend him before June 25. So please, please, please don’t act incensed now. Let people get it out of their systems if they want to be childish. It is ultimately a victimless crime. I promise that Michael doesn’t care.

But, Slade, you should have some respect for the family for God’s sake! How do you think it makes them feel?

The family is dealing with the hurt that comes from losing somebody close to them, not the injury of a few words uttered by the faceless millions that have never met the man. Whatever his shortcomings were, Michael Jackson changed lives. Certain songs of his will always have a very important place in my life. I still correlate the Dangerous album with particular memories of my father, and I will never get a chance to say thanks for that.

In the meantime, a joke or two from people you know that comes across as tactless should be tolerated. It doesn’t make them bad people. It makes them human. That’s how we cope with a loss sometimes. But it’s not directed at Michael himself. It’s directed at the media-created caricature that we knew as Michael Jackson. It wasn’t really him. He wasn’t just oxygen tents and ferris wheels and face masks. Those things are funny. Those things deserve to be made fun of.

As for the rest of him? Well, I didn’t know that part. It is intact and lives on in the memory of those that did.

I, however, will go on the way I always have. The only thing that has changed for me is that it is now official that I will never see him perform live. Nothing else will change. My childish friends and I will still tell immature jokes about him and I will still play Remember the Time at full blast when I am in the privacy of my own car on long road trips when no one is watching.

R.I.P. Mike.

Now can we please let it go?

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SLADE HAM is a stand up comedian. He has performed in 52 countries on six continents, a journey that can be followed in his book, Until All the Dragons Are Dead. One day he hopes to host a travel show and continue to trick the world into paying him to do the things he loves to do. Slade is also an Editor for The Nervous Breakdown's Arts and Culture section. He keeps a very expensive storage unit in Houston, TX.

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