Monica Lewinsky has credited “gallows humour” with helping her survive the Clinton scandal in the 1990s.
Lewinsky reflected on the topic in a new essay for Vanity Fair, in which she explores the ways in which humour can help us through turbulent times such as the coronavirus pandemic.
“Early on in life I learned how to take a joke in order to survive,” she writes. ”It was the fifth or sixth grade, and as a sensitive preteen, I increasingly found myself returning home from school and shedding my backpack along with tears.”
At that time, she said she was teased by her peers, at which point her parents taught her the following rule: “If you laugh with them, they’ll stop laughing at you.”
Being able to rely on humour, Lewinsky writes, “played a large role in My Survival in grade school and beyond”.
“Thanks to the ordeals I endured back in, oh, 1998, I acquired the equivalent of a PhD in gallows humour,” she adds.
“(My family gave nicknames to the prosecutors, politicians, and the press. These became our verbal Xanax.)”
In 1998, impeachment proceedings were initiated and completed against Bill Clinton on articles of perjury and obstruction of justice.
That was also the year Clinton admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky, a former White House intern who went on to secure a job at the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives in December 1998. He was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999 and remained in office until January 2001.