First it was NPR who was forbidding its employees from attending Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and Stephen Colbert's March to Keep Fear Alive. Now the Washington City Paper is telling its employees that, yes, they can go, but they can't laugh.
In an internal memo, the paper's editor Michael Schaffer (hopefully) jokingly tells his underlings:
You may attend the rallies in a non-participatory fashion. However, because the rallies are comic events, you may not laugh. The act of not laughing, though, can be just as politically loaded as the act of laughing. Therefore, staffers are advised to politely chuckle, in a non-genuine manner, after each joke.
To avoid any perception of bias, please make sure to chuckle at all jokes, whether or not you find them funny. As journalists, we must make sure to not allow our personal views of “humorous” or “non-humorous” to affect our public demeanor. Likewise, it could be devastating to our impartial reputation if our staffers were seen laughing at something that was not intended as a joke, thereby appearing to mock the entire event. If we are lucky, the comedians will have a drummer on hand whose rim-shots may be used as a cue for when to politely chuckle.