“The world is ending, your uncle’s racist Facebook profile is responsible, we’re documenting it.” This is how every episode of MINION DEATH CULT begins. Most of us have been increasingly fleeing Facebook or at least drastically changing how we engage with the website in the last few years; partially due to the awful practices of Zuckerberg and Co., but largely because it seems as though the whole website is an incubator for awful, alienated people to spew their most vile opinions for all the world to see. Of course, as all the sane people either leave the site entirely or relegate themselves to closed groups, the awful reactionaries just seem to be even louder as they colonize more and more of the internet. Every diseased, paranoid, and hateful thought that we used to be able to ignore now seems to be oozing into our minds every day we look at our phones. Most of us who consider ourselves to be decent human beings want to spend as little time as possible reading the comments of all the awful MAGA hat assholes out there, but as a result, we rarely gain much insight into why these people believe what they believe.
Lucky for us, Tony Boswell and Alexander Edward seem to have developed psychic radiation suits, and they can withstand taking deep-dives into awful closed online communities, digging up the worst of the worst from way down in the internet trenches. Tony and Alex are highly adept at getting into closed Facebook groups and unearthing the most vile commentary people have provided on the current events of the day. The pair are what you would call “Extremely Online,” and their atlas-like knowledge of how all these terrible communities overlap and intersect is truly astounding. Whether they’re ripping into members of the bonkers QAnon conspiracy, diehard libertarians, or shockingly racist meme pages, Alex and Tony have an unparalleled ability to zero in on what these people believe and to promptly blow it to pieces. The beliefs of the people they expose are horrific, but their commentary is consistently very, very funny because they have a nuanced understanding of the people they’re mocking.
I’ve talked before about how much comedy has really suffered in the Trump era. Most comedy these days feels that it has to be political, but so little of it seems to be able to make sense of how we got to our present moment or why things are so chaotic. Writers for SNL have caricatures in their heads about how the average Trump supporter thinks, but I just don’t believe they’re spending hours a week looking for the wildest comments from the deepest bowels of the internet. MINION DEATH CULT gazes into the abyss in ways most people would never dare to, and what they’re able to drag up from the depths is pure gold.
There are many recent episodes you could listen to to get started with the show, but the episode that made me want to cover this podcast was their recent episode on abortion. As we all know, it has been an extremely grim month as abortion rights in states across this country have all but been revoked. Alex and Tony chose to have Brynne Musser, a public health advocate who works in reproductive justice, on the show to educate the audience about the grim state of affairs. There are many, many dark jokes traded throughout the episode, but it never feels as though anyone is making light of how serious the situation at hand is; rather, MINION DEATH CULT showing a form of solidarity through gallows humor. Brynne makes jokes herself, and in the end, it’s incredibly cathartic to feel her loosening up despite how devastated she clearly is. It’s a perfect example of what comedy can do but so rarely does these days: looking a terrible thing directly in the face and laughing at it to diminish its power over us. If you like the episode, consider donating to their Patreon, all their proceeds for this month go to the National Network of Abortion Funds.