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Stephen Colbert manages to make people smile after marathon tragedy

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Not long after Sept. 11, 2001, several commentators predicted humor would never be the same.

“There’s going to be a seismic change,” Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, famously said in the days after 9/11. “I think it’s the end of the age of irony.”

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Of course, that was nonsense then and it’s nonsense now. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, it’s still possible to smile, as Stephen Colbert, The Onion, and a select few other smart alecks have so exquisitiely demonstrated this week.

Colbert, in particular, delivered a tour de force performance in the first episode of “The Colbert Report” since the bomb blasts that killed three people and maimed dozens of others.

“Whoever did this obviously did not know [expletive] about the people of Boston, because nothing these terrorists do is going to shake them,” Colbert said. “For Pete’s sake, Boston was founded by the pilgrims — a people so tough they had to buckle their goddamned hats on.”

Not only is Boston the cradle of the American Revolution, Colbert said, leaning toward the camera, but it “made it through the Big Dig, a construction project that backed up traffic for 16 years. . . . I mean, there are commuters just getting home now.”

He continued, “These maniacs may have tried to make life bad for the people of Boston, but all they can ever do is show just how good those people are.”

Likewise, the satirical website The Onion has been on its game since the tragedy.

“After Monday’s horrific terror attack at the Boston Marathon that killed three and left hundreds injured, officials confirmed Tuesday that the bombings and senseless violence that followed occurred primarily because this is the kind of world we live in now,” The Onion reported as only it does. “According to reports, this is an age when, in an instant, two explosions can go off in rapid succession in a major urban center, disrupt the lives of thousands, and terrify hundreds of millions. In addition, those familiar with the situation went on to note that going through one’s day-to-day life with the uneasy feeling that a devastating act of violence could happen with little rhyme or reason is ‘just how it is now.’ ”

Ain’t that the truth.

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