November 2, 2008

"An Obama presidency would be great for comedy, as it signals a rise in the intelligence level of America..."

ADDED INTRO: Welcome, Village Voice readers. Roy Edroso sends you here with the lines "The news in the final days of the campaign offers scant hope for rightbloggers... In the final hours before their presumed electoral Armageddon, the rightbloggers' last, desperate assaults have sprayed fire at all kinds of collateral targets." But you ought to know that Edroso's characterization of me is entirely wrong. I took a vow of "cruel neutrality" on March 4th -- intended to last until at least October -- and "spread the attacks around and [gave] credit where credit is due." On October 7th, I revealed my emerging support for Obama. Over the past month, my posts have still been balanced, but my support for Obama has crystalized. I'm no "rightblogger," though Roy is clearly a leftblogger, and a pretty dumb or dishonest one. With that correction, please read the original post, which follows.

***


"... which makes for better, more ironic and layered jokes."

From an article about how an Obama presidency will change comedy, that's a quote from a famous American comedian. Try to guess which one before you look. I guarantee you'll be wrong.

So, anyway, there's the issue whether it will be too hard to joke about Obama. There are really 2 problems:

1. He so wonderful and well-liked -- at least by the usual comedians! -- that there's no basis for edginess, anger, and sarcasm. We're not going to laugh at jokes about how there's nothing to joke about. So what can be funny?

2. He's black, and white comedians feel they can't go all-out exploiting that characteristic for jokes. If McCain wins, comedians can make jokes about his age and his rage, the way they mocked Bush's speech and stupidity and Clinton's gluttony and lechery. But wait, I had 2 conventional characteristics for the others, so comedians could get past Obama's race and pick... something funny. Not that he's so articulate. Maybe that he's pretentiously professorial and consequently boring.

From the article:
"Comedians haven't been hitting Obama that hard because he hasn't made a lot of missteps - yet," says [Carol Kolb, head writer of the Onion News Network]. "If he actually becomes President, there's no way he will please everyone. The left-leaning comedians are supporting him in opposition to John McCain, but they're probably not going to agree with all of his policies. He'll be working in government and dealing with bureaucracy and pleasing voters, so he'll start making mistakes.

"I have no fear that there will be something to make fun of. It may take awhile for that to emerge, but when it does, the humor will be more nuanced and informed. We will pounce when the time is right. Now we're just biding our time."
Blah! I despise all the comic writers who have held their fire because they so want Obama to win. Comedy first, you traitors to your craft. And, by the way, Onion News Network is unwatchably dull. The Onion has been fun to read for years, but the translation to video sucks, perhaps because the writers have been so keen on helping a politician win. (But it's not just that.)
"No particular aspect of Obama's life will be off limits for us," says the Onion's Kolb. "That's just not how we do things at the Onion. I'm sure there's some joke to be made about race. Just give us time."
Something tells me Kolb will never be funny... about anything.
African-American comics, though, may not have to wait. From Chris Rock to D. L. Hughley to "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan, this may be a watershed moment for comedy as in politics.

"Here's the thing," says Larry Wilmore, the "Senior Black Correspondent" on "The Daily Show."
"If you're in power, you become The Man. If Barack Obama becomes The Man, you've got to make fun of The Man. Those are the rules.

"But you know, McCain may win. And then you have to work on an 'angry Obama' impression. That might be much more fun than his being President, really."
Here's Carlos Mencia:
"If Obama becomes the first black President ... to make fun of his blackness is going to be great. Like, he's not black enough, or maybe he's too black. If we find Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and he drops a bomb in Pakistan, that's thug, man. You're going to be like, 'I didn't realize he was that black! I thought he was just Huxtable black!'"
Obama has not won yet, so what these folks are saying is still what they say before he's elected. Mencia reflects the current situation, in which non-white comedians get to make jokes the white comedians avoid. Will that change? Or will the shows rely on the use of black comedians to tell racial jokes?

I think the best solution is to observe Obama closely and find specific things about him instead of giving yourself permission to fall back on racial stereotypes for humor. (I know, I'm being transracial, which is still in the pre-Obama admininstration mode, and is also not at all edgy or funny.)

50 comments:

Seven Machos said...

It'll be kind of fun to make light of the recession he digs us into and the needless foreign policy lapses.

My guess, though, is that the joke will be how everybody said Obama was going to be so great.

AllenS said...

Make a joke, how? Making fun of his middle name? The joke will be on you.

Terri said...

I predict a very gloomy or four (gawd forbid) eight years. Comedians are extremely unfunny about Obama. And, sorry, but my experience at one of my favorite daily blog visits has even become gloomier since the hostess drank the koolaid. It's going to be 1975 all over again. Those were not good years. The gloom is already descending upon us.

Beldar said...

To be a comedian, one has to be at least occasionally funny. The person you quoted, isn't.

jdeeripper said...

The only potentially funny angle about the guy is for him to be the slightly intimidated, hen pecked husband of Michelle.

On his own he's a dud.

Biden is the funniest of the four by far.

vet66 said...

There is always his favority aunt Zeituni living in a Boston slum and a relative living in Kenya on a dollar a month that BHO has no interest in.

Particularly galling is his party's admonition to the rest of us to "Step Up" have our hard-earned money donated for us. It seems that simply volunteering to donate time and money doesn't say "Haines" until the democrats say it says "Haines."

Maybe his relatives should join the Christian Childrens Fund and BHO and Michelle could send them a a dollar a day to improve their lives. Better yet, take our money and give it to them...(insert sarcasm!)

EnigmatiCore said...

"I guarantee you'll be wrong"

I swear as sweary as I can possibly swear, I guessed right!

How random!

Dark Eden said...

How about the obvious angle: He's a messianic figure leading a cult of personality almost completely devoid of substance? He has an ego the size of a death star? Seems like pretty rich comic material for anyone with balls, which naturally rules out most of our modern comedians who play it about as safe as possible while pretending to be edgy. Take an edgy comedian, grab a piece of paper, draw a smiley face on it, hand said paper to Mr. Edgy, tell him to hold it up and say 'this is my picture of the Prophet Mohammed.' Mr. Edgy Comedian will run in terror and make a joke about Christians and Rednecks.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Obama is a clever lightweight, and that will become obvious soon enough.

Obama has never managed anything but his Senate office, which he abandoned for the campaign trial soon after moving in.

Perhaps he will rise to the challenges,but probably not.

rhhardin said...

Maybe dark humor if Obama wins.

And ear jokes.

Lem said...

Blah! I despise all the comic writers who have held their fire because they so want Obama to win. Comedy first, you traitors to your craft. And, by the way, Onion News Network is unwatchably dull. The Onion has been fun to read for years, but the translation to video sucks, perhaps because the writers have been so keen on helping a politician win. (But it's not just that.)

I think the best solution is to observe Obama closely and find specific things about him instead of giving yourself permission to fall back on racial stereotypes for humor. (I know, I'm being transracial, which is still in the pre-Obama admininstration mode, and is also not at all edgy or funny.)


Sometimes I read mean, harsh, unfair criticism of the professor here and I wonder how could any one thing (whatever it is) ever eclipse the insight Niagara that is Althouse?

She might call me a chump ;) but I look up to her (if not most) every word.

Richard Fagin said...

I guess I'll just watch a lot more of Carlos Mencia than I already do if Obama gets elected. Mexican-Americans have far fewer hangups about lambasting black people than white people do, and it's really refreshing.

Did I mention that George Lopez almost got booed off the stage in Houston in March when he brought up his support for Obama? Take that for what its worth about how hispanics are going to vote in this election.

Troy said...

Why do I have a feeling they'll be making Governor of Alaska jokes for four years?

The "courage" of these folks is laughable. They will not make fun of Obama.

Meade said...

"I think the best solution is to observe Obama closely and find specific things about him..."

I think you're right, but good luck with that. Obama has created for himself an impenetrable mask. I suspect that lying behind it is a fair amount of insecurity, self doubt, and unresolved hurt and anger over his many personal losses. The best comedic humor has an element of self-mockery to it - Lucy, Richard Pryor, Roseanne (back when she was funny)...

The best comparison is to JFK, the last Democrat president with any real sense of humor - the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris.

Out of fear, Obama does not do self-deprecating. Fear of smudging his make up. Fear of having his mask slip. Mocking him, for a comedian, would be like mocking a child. Or a cripple. Or unripe fruit. Not funny. Even mean.

This could be a looong 4 - 8 years.

Lem said...

As far as Mencia... I don't know...

Mencia says what he says because his way of saying it is effortly Mexican is mannerisms.

Sometimes it seems like he has no qualms using his minority status to the point of abuse.

Rich B said...

It will be a lot funnier if he loses. I'll bet Jon Stewart will be a hoot.

Lem said...

Comedy at the expense of our president is an important American civic staple.

The very idea that it may be in jeopardy because of one election should give us pause. Even Jesus is funny - Monty Python - hello!

Goes w/o saying, the professor might be late, but better late than never ;)

Lem said...

Jon Stewart found himself saying You know It’s okay to laugh at him

And the way I red the video, It seemed expontanious - like good comedy. In the moment. Like when Billy Crystal went on a roll at the expense of Jack Palance at the Oscars.
Jack Palance did do something - if you remember.

This video is the best comedy about Obama Ive seen so far.

http://tinyurl.com/4l2tu6

Darcy said...

I can't imagine anything funny about an Obama presidency.

Though this: "...as it signals a rise in the intelligence level of America..." is really very darkly funny to me.

Republicans will continue to be "funny", I'd imagine, for the comedians, and their highly intellingent fans. Woohoo! Fun.

Cedarford said...

Fagin - Did I mention that George Lopez almost got booed off the stage in Houston in March when he brought up his support for Obama? Take that for what its worth about how hispanics are going to vote in this election.

Not worth much. It looks like the hispanics have been lost as Republicans have become to be seen as the party against the working class and middle class. The difference is that they are going to be willing to boo and jeer Democrats and Obama if they screw up as badly as Bush and the Republicans did. Without the fear and PC of white liberals and the dripping guilt and hope for redemption in "noble oppressed people's eyes" that progressive Jews have. (Certain Levantine oppressed people excepted..)

Chris Wren said...

Okay the biggest thing that will be funny about an Obama administration will be if he does turn out to be a black version of Canada's Pierre Elliot Trudeau - the internationalist big spender who got my country into 30 years of crushing debt we've only just paid off this year. Except America's already got a crushing debt that's going to take a generation or more to pay off, so that doesn't work...I think the funniest thing I ever heard about Obama was when old man Rove accused him of being the kind of guy who hangs out at country clubs, smoking and making fun of people with a sneer on his face. What will be funny about Obama will be the weird obsessions he reveals in others. Otherwise, he's a bit of a blank cipher in himself.

Chris Wren said...

All kidding aside though, the last thing America needs is a Pierre Trudeau. That actually wouldn't be very funny at all.

MayBee said...

If comedians can't make fun of him, will others be able to criticize him?

The two are interrelated.

As for the rise in the intelligence level of America- what will disagreeing with his obviously intelligent decisions mean? Will critics be stupid or racist?

SteveR said...

We should hope its funny, but due to a "rise in intelligence"? Can anybody cite any evidence that America's getting more inteligent? I guess I don't understand how that happens so quickly.

bearbee said...

Seem to me fertile ground for jokes about a Marxist/socialist boob attempting the bread and fishes to the multitude trick while keeping his halo in tact and walking on water.

D'ya think replacing 401(k) plans with a government 'guarantee' plan, like ya know, our guaranteed and broke social security is gonna fool any one that this is other than Marxism/ socialism at work?

On second thought is Marxism/socialism really funny?

MayBee said...

We should hope its funny, but due to a "rise in intelligence"? Can anybody cite any evidence that America's getting more inteligent? I guess I don't understand how that happens so quickly.

I agree. We're pretty much the same people, give or take.

The comedian's comment demonstrates the intelligence of the comedian. Or perhaps it is a layer of irony.

Jen Bradford said...

The most obvious gag (that had to be avoided because of Rev. Wright) is Obama-as-preacher. All the high-flown language, the idea that this is some magical time, the wind is at our backs, we believe, etc. All that stuff. Or Obama as Bob the Builder: "yes we can!"

Another obvious thing is constrasting the star Obama with "behind the scenes" Obama, where the guy is smoking and dropping the f-bomb and acting like a regular human being. It's true of all Presidents, but there's a fear of acknowledging it's equally true of Obama. Even when he went on SNL in cameo, he didn't play around at all.

Jamie said...

comedians have not learned how to make fun of Obama yet, though. The best jokes have been at the expense of Palin in particular and McCain.

The press is going to have to sharpen its knives more against an Obama Administration, too.

A President obama is going to find a much more unfriendly crowd among the press and late night comedians than did candidate Obama.

AprilApple said...

No it won't. Obama is off limits because he happens to be black. If anyone dare make a joke about Obama - it will be called "racist"-- Even if the joke isn't racist at all.

SNL is an example. Have they mocked Obama much?

Glen said...

Every modern presidency begins as a novel and ends as a punchline.

Synova said...

The idea that the, um, left is funnier because the left is smarter...

You'd think someone could come up with examples of that.

There's the classic... "How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? A: THAT'S NOT FUNNY!"

Other examples might be the "humorous" sorts of things directed at Bush.

OTOH, maybe we will get "funnier" under Obama because the people making fun of him will be conservatives?

I think the best solution is to observe Obama closely and find specific things about him instead of giving yourself permission to fall back on racial stereotypes

Can't make jokes about his lofty attitude... that's calling a black "uppity."

Will said...

"[...]a 'rise in intelligence'? Can anybody cite any evidence that America's getting more inteligent? I guess I don't understand how that happens so quickly."

There's an aphorism that says that the true test of a person's intelligence is the degree to which he agrees with you.
I belive that's what's driving the "rise in intelligence." America has come around to his way of thinking, and therefore is much, much smarter than it used to be.

BJM said...

I can't wait for edgy trans racial comedy from the intellgentsia who thought this was clever commentary.

Who's kidding whom here? Non-black comedians, satirists, publishers and broadcasters, in particular, won't dare go there.

CarmelaMotto said...

I watched Bill Burr the other night on Comedy Central. It was funny. You know what I liked about him? Often very politically in correct and politics free. I have no idea what he thinks perhaps because he understands I do not wish him to educate me on his beliefs. I like that. Entertainment.

The laziness of comedy in the last 8 years (Bush is so dumb! Applause!) makes me wish for a Democrat.

OldGrouchy said...

Save comedy, elect McCain - Palin!

Comedy about a President Obama would be banned on grounds that it would be improper to ridicule, or joke about, The Messiah our Chosen One!

bearbee said...

The idea that the, um, left is funnier because the left is smarter...

Didn't some pol, G Ferrero I think?, say something to the effect that blue states such as New York had all the smarter people and all the money.

Oh wait.....New York.......aren't they in some sort of financial crisis thingy?

And aren't they asking the rest of us for a bailout?

Hmmm.....

Darcy said...

Will said:
There's an aphorism that says that the true test of a person's intelligence is the degree to which he agrees with you.

Well, that got a chuckle out of me! Thanks! :)

Whew. We will be able to laugh after all.

Trooper York said...

If Mort was awake he would say that making jokes about Obama is racist.

Don't you know anything.

blake said...

Second guess. O'Donnell was my first, even though I realized it was spelled too well.

On second thought is Marxism/socialism really funny?

"The Lives of Others" is a laff riot!

It would be ironic if Obama wins (and it's within the margin of error for the one pollster who called 2004 correctly) and all these comedy guys ended up out of work.

Were there Soviet stand-ups? Smirnoff had to come here to make jokes, didn't he?

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quayle said...

OK, here is an Obama joke

Obama is sitting in a bar, and a grasshopper walks in and sits down next to him.

And Obama looks over at the grasshopper for a minute, and finally says, "Hey, ya know, I think they got a drink here named after you."

And the grasshopper says, "They got a drink here named Steve?"

Trooper York said...

Obama walks into a bar and sits down.

The bartender comes over and says "What's your pleasure."

"Nice place you got here."

"Thank you."

"You must do pretty good here."

"We do ok."

"Good, so we have to take half your profits."

"Ha that's funny. But it's not April Fools."

"I'm not kidding."

Darcy said...

Haha, Trooper. And another joke is that the bar owner most likely voted for Obama.

Now, let's not be selfish! Pay up.
And give it to someone behind you.

William said...

If you do not know someone well enough to kid, you do not know them well enough to be President. There's something distant and unknowable about Obama. I hope that Ayers and Wright and most posters here have misread him. But the fact that comedians can't get a comic read on him is bothersome....Sometimes he seems like a decent family man of moderate views. And sometimes he seems like a man who wishes to seem like a decent family man of moderate views. I cannot say with certainty whether he is a wave or a particle. How can you caricature a blur?

Darcy said...

OK...even the people voting for Obama have to think this is funny!
I laughed! And I laughed even harder because I remember the original tune.

Yes. It is going to be a great time for comedy!

Stephen said...

Chocolate News.

Google it!

Nichevo said...

""Ha that's funny. But it's not April Fools."

"I'm not kidding.""

Or, Hey, Michelle told you I was a stinka! {smells himself, pinching nostrils] Pee-yu!

[Looney Tunes closing theme]

or maybe

No, that wasn't a joke. Give it up man or I cut you -- Now that's funny!

No, but seriously,

Obama is the red button. Whether you think he is the little red button or the big flashing throbbing button, he has no label, and for some reason the media are hiding from you some of the instruction and safety manuals. But it's candy, isn't it, that red button? C'mon, you know you want to.

Is it an eject button? A self-destruct button? A Tootsie Roll or cigarette encased in a glass phial? A reset button? A panic button? An Everything will be great now, don't worry be happy button?

Or one of these?

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=2&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.i-am-bored.com%2Fbored_link.cfm%3Flink_id%3D9644&ei=Jq8OSdX-Kqaweoe1kMME&usg=AFQjCNFYP0V87oUB34hY5eXWaS2KnxLURA&sig2=wfTcb4wdcs3ow0YCQDf-FQ

Do not push the red button | I Am Bored

Apr 11, 2005 ... Do not push the red button. Please, don`t push it.

www.iam-bored.com/bored_link.cfm?link_id=9644 - 34k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Candy. Angry babies want candy. Don't like medicine. Tastes bad. Not like candy. Or penny. Shiny penny.

I am often in the home of a coworker, who has a seven month old infant named Apollonia, who is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen in your life. As I have often said to her mother (to her dismay), she can do things already that a dog couldn't do in a million years. Besides reading minds, of course. She is going to be a prodigy, anyone can tell. I suppose she already is. And sweet! And good!

She already has more sense and empathy than some of these political figures, and a damn sight more than some commentators here.

In fact I will go all random and titus - or rather antititus: I would much rather drivel on about Apollonia, than engage in further rancor just now. I feel it - enough just now to spur me to an unprecedented action - but don't wish to, because we do all have to live together.

She is a hella cute baby. I worry they give her too much pacifier. Is that bad for the teeth or mouth? I know the excess use of sippy cups delays motor development in the face and can lead to tooth decay in milk teeth. She is really very good almost always though.

Wonderful child. So much better than any number of rare clumbers. The mother is I think mildly insane, a Medea by turns with garrulous sweetness. She wasn't like this before the baby, they tell me.

A wonderful child. I should try and post a photo.

bearbee said...

darcy said:
OK...even the people voting for Obama have to think this is funny!
I laughed! And I laughed even harder because I remember the original tune.


Well done. McCain should have used it.

It will have all us dancing and bopping in our chains as we enter the new USSofA.

Telecomedian said...

I was a working comedian for years, and trust me, there will be plenty of things to make fun of with regards to Obama. Remember, a lot of comics had no idea how to make fun of George H.W. Bush, and then Dana Carvey cracked the code on his impersonation of him, and then the race was on. Heck, Gerald Ford was as graceful and athletic as a man could be for years, and Chevy Chase did that stumbling-impersonation of him on "SNL" and more people remember that about Ford than anything else.

Give him time.

And - a GREAT quote from Rosanne. She's spot-on with that.

CJColucci said...

I expect that professional comedians will eventually find something funny about Obama. They haven't had much luck so far, but there's no reason to think it's because they are in the tank for him -- this is their livelihood we're talking about, not to mention professional ego.
To those who think otherwise, let's see you come up with something funny. For the people who have suggested "obvious" themes -- make a damn joke, and make us laugh. For the people who have submitted jokes -- res ipsa loquitur.