Doctor Patch: A Legacy of Laughs


Fans of Rajendra Pachauri are hoping a laugh-a-minute monologue he delivered at a fundraiser yesterday stimulates interest in his earlier work.

The polymathic technocrat’s sense of humor tends to be eclipsed by his preëminence as ‘the top UN climate scientist,’ which is understandable enough; if there’s one thing nobler than winning the laughter of the masses it’s winning their tears.

But Pachauri’s wittier, more subversive moments have not gone unappreciated either. A Nuremberg reader and resident pachyologue lists a few highlights from a long life of laugh-jerking:

We caught an early glimpse of Dr Pachauri’s comic genius in 2009, after a typo brought him briefly into the critical spotlight. That’s when the good doctor debuted his pitch-perfect parody of a paranoid, intolerant eco-extremist:

I would say there are nefarious designs behind people trying to attack me with lies, falsehoods… They are people who deny the link between smoking and cancer; they are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder. I hope that they apply it to their faces every day…
There is clearly a very obvious intent behind this whole thing. I’m certainly not going to be affected by it. I’m totally in the clear. I have absolutely nothing but indifference to what these people are doing.

(Obviously, Dr Pachauri—a famously humane thinker who cites Gandhi as an ethical template—would never speak like this. That’s why it was so funny to hear him do so.)

Pachauri parlayed his love of irony into a full-length novel with Return to Almora, a 400-page tour-de-France of faux-crap writing. Almora‘s antihero, Sanjay Nath, has nothing in common with his creator beyond a shared inability to suffer frustrated morons gladly.

Almora shower scene

The famous shower scene: In a novel full of gems, perhaps no passage is more celebrated, or better exemplifies the author’s genius for capturing the vapid speech of the witless. (Like all of Pachauri’s prose it demands to be read out loud.)

The humor, of course, arises from the fact that unlike Pachauri himself, Nath never seems to grasp that he’s every bit as frustrated as the next moron. He is portrayed as a deeply shallow, exceptionally mediocre thinker who stumbles onto a cult following in spite of, not because of, his personal qualities. Nath—a lecherous male chauvinist—is incapable of intellectual penetration and only intermittently successful in the genital variety.

Pachauri says he based the character on a friend.

Finally, let’s not forget Pachauri’s Kaufman-influenced period, which culminated in an audacious 2002-2015 punking of the United Nations’ IPCC.

It was hilarious enough that a known crony of George W. Bush could be nominated to run the august organization, but when Pachauri actually won the office it was icing on the comedy cake! In what the blogger Dr William Connolley describes as an episode in “idiot cunning,” the railway engineer “was deliberately appointed by Bush to be an unsuccessful Chair.” And yet—far from being the sole province of pony-tailed rodent-based edit warriors—this knowledge was an open secret; everyone from Vice President Al Gore to Professor Naomi Oreskes was aware that Pachauri’s candidacy was a trick all along!

Like all practical jokes, his Chairmanship had to come to an end sooner or later. You can, after all, fool some of the world’s top 2,500 scientists some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the world’s top 2,500 scientists all the time.

It only took the cli-sci world 13 years to cotton on to the prank. When it did, the IPCC’s rank and file reacted almost overnight, prevailing on Pachauri to step down this February. But the short-lived jape had already become an instant classic in the art of performance comedy.

1 thought on “Doctor Patch: A Legacy of Laughs

  1. Sarmange

    Sarcasm is a subtle thing that must follow a certain protocol. The delivering part of a sarcastic comment or a prank (which is just a sarcasm expressed by an action) must make itself understood by the receiving part. If not it all falls apart and the receiving end either thinks you are a nice or a very strange person.
    That was what happened with the IPCC Chair to Patsy Prank. Unfortunately it was not understood as a prank because the commission shared a common mindset that made the members incapable to get it.

    At first it seemed as the whole thing misfired when Patsy actually was selected. But, as the excellent comedian he always was, Patsy kept up his act and delivered hilarious jokes and the finest kind of rubbish during all his years of performance.

    By time Patsy became desperate to make the IPCC get the sarcastic joke. He had won the whole World but the Greens and the IPCC and he wanted them to laugh too. Actors are like that, a single sourpuss in the audience makes him feel a failure and he will direct all his efforts towards that person.
    So he recoiled upon his early teens with jokes that always made his mates laugh and giggle – jokes about girls, sex and female anatomical parts and bragging about imagined sexual conquests.

    During a lecture when the Head Attendant took his arm and whispered in his ear that it was time to leave now, Patsy understood that they all had got it at last. His mission was accomplished and he could leave the scene as a the great comedian he was.

    Liked by 1 person


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