“Somebody had to say it,” and apparently that somebody is comedian Jim Breuer. In a set that broke Twitter over the July 4 weekend, Breuer came right out and delivered the news: vaccinations didn’t stop Covid. Mandates are stupid. Social distancing is meaningless. The entire Covid regime under which we’ve lived, to various degrees, for the last two-plus years is a worthless and sinister form of social control.

Breuer’s twelve-minute routine on The Pandemic isn’t very good. His physical comedy doesn’t hit; the depictions of the vaccine are sloppy-looking, and he accompanies them with a dumb...

“Somebody had to say it,” and apparently that somebody is comedian Jim Breuer. In a set that broke Twitter over the July 4 weekend, Breuer came right out and delivered the news: vaccinations didn’t stop Covid. Mandates are stupid. Social distancing is meaningless. The entire Covid regime under which we’ve lived, to various degrees, for the last two-plus years is a worthless and sinister form of social control.

Breuer’s twelve-minute routine on The Pandemic isn’t very good. His physical comedy doesn’t hit; the depictions of the vaccine are sloppy-looking, and he accompanies them with a dumb raspberry noise. His “Broadway musical” bit could be funny except that nothing he does resembles a current Broadway musical in the slightest. He comes across as a lazy, privileged, MAGA-tinted Jim Carrey wannabe. But the audience screams with laughter at everything he’s saying, and with good reason. Because he’s right. Covid is real. People have died and gotten sick. But the response has been bullshit. Many people think so, and some admit it publicly. But for those who won’t, or can’t, it’s a safety valve, a sweet relief, to finally see that point of view up on stage.

There are certainly many who disagree. Comedy, for the last two years, has largely been for them, a festival of Stephen Colbert dancing around with hypodermic needles. In his latest Netflix special, comedian Jimmy Carr, who’s much more buttoned-up and skillful in his delivery than spazzy Jim Breuer, opens up by asking the audience “how many of you think we overreacted to Covid?” A lot of people cheer. And Carr basically says, “Okay. I wonder how the dead people would react to that question.”

It’s a clever, well-timed response, and totally within the bounds of acceptable discourse. There’s an audience for that point of view. But it’s also a Covidian point of view. We should have done more, restricted more, tested more, locked down longer and harder. Carr delivers but he’s totally wrong.

Saying what Jim Breuer is saying is still somewhat dangerous in our society. Not in the sense that it will get you put in jail, or banned from public appearances. It won’t even hurt his income; in fact, it will probably increase his income. But there’s still a sizable, or at least vocal, segment of society that not only disagrees with Breuer, but would return us to the ways of April 2020 given the opening and the opportunity.

This week alone, we’ve seen the widespread dissemination of an essay that claims that not only is the Covid pandemic not over — an arguable proposition, especially from people who are still contracting the virus — but that it’s spreading and getting worse, that each subsequent reinfection is gradually weakening people, turning them into permanent casualties. There are a reasonable number of people who truly believe that because we didn’t take enough precautions, we’re all facing incipient organ failure and “brain shrinkage.” From the beginning, there’s been crazy talk afoot about Covid. But now, as society at large moves on, the dead-enders are digging in their trenches, trying to spread panic where they can. Another Twitter thread that caught a wave this week actually concluded that businesses are suffering a labor shortage because everyone is dead.

In one sense, the propaganda of permanent Covid emergency is failing. The stadiums are full, the movies are back, concerts, festivals, and parties are happening. Clearly, everyone is not dead. People have declared their willingness to assume some degree of risk so they can live in relative normalcy.

That said, there are still businesses, camps, and activities that require testing. Places still have signs up that “strongly encourage” masks. At my local public library two weeks ago, no one was wearing masks. Yesterday, the plexiglass barriers were up, and everyone was masked again. The memos still go out. Restrictions still occur. Healthy kids still have to quarantine because of “exposure.” Schools are threatening renewed mask mandates for the fall. We’re not locked down; we’re free to move about the country. But Covid has forever changed how some people and institutions operate, and not for the better.

Would I like a smoother, cooler messenger than Jim Breuer to deliver that gospel to the people? Sure. I’d love to watch someone who didn’t fart around the stage looking like he has mustard stains on his shirt. But I’m glad he’s out there saying something. None of it works, and it’s all theater. It makes me feel a little less crazy to hear someone else say it, and there’s a lot of value in feeling a little less crazy right now.