Thank You, Leslie Jones, for Making the News Feel Bearable


There’s too much goddamn news—every day a fresh disaster, a tragic milestone, an unprecedented breach of law and honor. Go offline for an hour, and you’ll return to a different world. So thank God for Leslie Jones, a hero for all us strung out news junkies. Employing the same unhinged energy and passion she brought to watching the Olympics, she has steadily morphed her Twitter feed into one long video recap of her MSNBC consumption.

On the eve of Georgia’s election runoffs, it wasn’t the wine or, God forbid, the needle that soothed the savage beast of frayed nerves. It was Jones’s ear-splitting glee at seeing her beloved Steve Kornacki back at his rightful post of sensibly dressed statistical genius, ready to parse incoming returns. “Yessssss, Steve! We’re back together again, boo!” Jones hollered at her screen. “I heard that they been using you for other bullshit. Don’t let them misuse your skills, Steve! You don’t need to find out their football shit. You supposed to be for us, Steve. Us. Your khakis and your Gap shirt and your regular fucking tie, dude, and your two-tone belt. Youuuuu beeeeelong to ussssss!”

Imagine the singular gift of making unbearable news feel bearable. Jones’s raucous exuberance is the best filter for today’s 24-hour cycle. She zeroes in on pundits’ background decor: When the Lincoln Project’s cofounder Rick Wilson sat for a January 13 breaking news interview with The ReidOut’s Joy Reid about Donald Trump’s second impeachment, Jones couldn’t concentrate because of a painting of a cat dressed in regal Elizabethan garb over his shoulder. “I know I love the Lincoln Project, but this type of shit right here is going to make me ask people if you should be running that shit,” she mused. “What the fuck is the cat doing in, in, in the dress, Rick? … All I’m thinking was, Did they have to put that cat to sleep to get him to put that fucking dress on him?” Later Wilson would reply to Jones with a picture of him holding his naked pet, assuring her, “The cat is alive!

Jones loves a well-appointed room. NYU law professor Melissa Murray earned a coveted spot in Jones’s top three backgrounds this week; the comedian praised her wallpaper, her vase of “little cinnamon sticks,” which appeared to be eucalyptus, and most of all her choice of light fixture: “That’s a good sconch, man. And you know how I feel about sconches…. And I know she’s probably saying something so important that I should probably be paying attention to more than her background, but I had to let her know.” Murray tweeted in response, “@Lesdoggg, you make pandemic bearable!”

If you’re doing an interview from a room that looks haunted by ghosts, Jones will let you know. If you’re phoning in from a stone porch that looks like a Game of Thrones set, she will call you out. She recently let loose on international affairs expert Tom Nichols’s janky three-pronged lamp, which sat like a shamed child in time-out during his interview with Brian Williams. Nichols later tweeted, “Okay, @Lesdoggg – I can tell you all about the cool stuff on the bookcase (the egg is hand-painted from Russia, the mugs all have special meaning) but you gotta give me some space on my lamp issues.” Shortly thereafter he tweeted again, “The lamp’s days are numbered.

At heart, Jones is a lover. She’s crazy for a good statement necklace, a woman’s laid hair, anyone speaking unapologetic truth to power. She celebrated the majesty of Missouri’s newly elected representative Cori Bush demanding GOP accountability during her interview with Chris Hayes. “This is the chick I want to take with me anywhere,” admired Jones. “Look at them pearls. But look at the pearls, and then she got the tattoo on her chest like, ‘yeah, motherfucker, and I’m still in government. What you gonna do?’” Later Bush responded in a tweet: “Sis. It’s Cori…We’ve gotta talk about these Republicans. DM me your number!”

It can feel impossible to laugh throughout this grievous time. What makes Jones’s Twitter feed such a valuable follow is the sense that she feels as authentically invested and raw watching the news as the rest of us. On the night of Trump’s second impeachment, after news broke that several Democrats had come down with COVID after being exposed during lockdown by maskless peers, Jones tweeted, “Damn it’s hard to be funny during this bullshit but I tried LOL.”

Look for the helpers everywhere. Even on Twitter. “Damnit Tim!! Are you trying to make me yell at you!” Jones tweeted on January 12 during an interview with Tim Miller, the writer-at-large of The Bulwark, on The ReidOut. She was undone by his hothouse palm tree wallpaper print. “So what is this horrible fucking wallpaper that’s behind you, that I know only goes into a bathroom…That better be a goddamn bathroom you in, Tim.” She went on to demand that his wife sit beside him on his next Zoom interview, so the two of them could try and explain their decorating choice.

In an affectionate response, Miller tweeted back, “Hey Les! Wanna just let you know I have a husband not a wife which might also answer your questions about the wallpaper (which is fabulous).” That really made Jones laugh, which made her 1.3 million followers happy for an instant. This is news we can use.

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