August 24, 2010

"But if comedy has an Obama problem, it doesn't have much to do with ideology. The guy is just difficult to mock."

Claims the American Prospect:
Politicians who make good targets for humor tend to have a personality feature or physical characteristic, like a particular accent or a distinctive set of gestures, that are easily identifiable and thus can be exaggerated to make the politician look foolish, because exaggeration is what impressions and satire are built on....

The trouble with Obama is that he doesn't easily lend himself to mockery. He's famously cool -- never too hot, never too cold. And coolness itself is nothing if not a concerted effort to avoid being mocked.
Obama's the Teflon of comedy, right? Because that's got to be the only reason comedians don't seem to be able to mock him.

67 comments:

Larry J said...

The comedians aren't mocking Obama because they agree with him, politically. If they looked at Obama objectively, they'd find no end of material to mock, such as his arrogance. We mock him at work all of the time.

Chase said...

Because that's got to be the only reason comedians don't seem to be able to mock him.

It might be the political agreement angle, but I'm certain it's mostly the racial angle. Seriously, do you want to be the one comedian who mocks any characteristics of the first black President of the United States?

For all their reported "courage", I don't see Bill Maher, Jon Stewart or any of the like ever be "brave" enough to take those steps.


Sinbad or Steve Harvey are about the only comedians who would have enough guts to mock Obama.

Palladian said...

"He's famously cool -- never too hot, never too cold."

Funny, I wouldn't call "never too hot, never too cold" "cool", I'd call it lukewarm. Or tepid.


Obama is hilariously easy to mock. His faux-professorial haughtiness, his incompetent fecklessness, his inane oratorical repetitions are all good fodder for mockery. His "coolness" isn't the reason comedians don't do it. Reluctance to mock a popular (semi) black man, and the fact that most of the entertainment industry wants to glorify and protect him, are the reasons.

Rod said...

Mockery is on the way, how soon, don't know. As others have said, the race card is about maxxed out.

Prosqtor said...

Galatians 6:7

New International Version (©1984)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.

El Pollo Real said...

Palin mocks.
Palin rocks.

lemondog said...

The guy is difficult to mock

Mebbe writers need to look here for ideas, cause there seems no shortage of mocking on this site.

Richard Dolan said...

The article goes on to say: "So it isn't that conservatives aren't trying to make fun of Obama -- they are, but they're laughing among themselves. You can usually get folks who already agree with you to laugh just by ridiculing the other side. But unless you can expand your audience beyond the true believers, the effect of the humor will be limited."

So the article's point is that lefties don't laugh much at O, and don't see the humor in send-ups of O's messianic self-involvement, his love affair with his teleprompter or (as MoDo put it) how the Let's-Be-Clear President keeps tripping over his tongue.

Well, it's true that they probably don't see the humor in any of that. But that conclusion doesn't sit well with the article's other main meme, that conservatives are essentially humorless and all the good comics/satirists are lefties.

Clyde said...

The American Prospect not seeing anything mockable about Obama is like Pravda in the 1940s not seeing anything mockable about Stalin; indeed, it would be almost as dangerous for the former to do so, at least to one's cocktail party invitations among the smart set.

Have they never heard about TOTUS and the fact that Obama is rendered incoherent without it? Have they never seen the numerous pictures of Obama with his chin in the air like an incipient Il Duce? And have they not heard the regime's wishful claims of an economic recovery ("Recovery Summer!* Catch It!") as they continue policies that will hamstring any hope of business growth? They did get one thing right, though. The joke IS on us. How's that hopey-changey stuff working out for you?

* - "Recovery Summer!" is void where prohibited by law, common sense or economic reality, i.e., most of the 57 states.

Scott said...

Why can comedians mock Palin and not Obama? I don't think it relates to ideology. It's more fundamental than that.

When a comedian pokes at a politician, it can be pretty vicious. It's obvious to anyone that Sarah Palin can take the heat, because she dishes it out too. She revels in being in the thick of the fray.

But not Obama. He's the nerdy, awkward guy without a sense of humor. Every word out of his mouth drips gravitas. A comedian picking on Obama would end up looking like a bully, and nobody likes bullies.

Jim said...

Lefties still can't find it in themselves to mock Obama for campaigning in 57 states...so they can go back to 2008 and start there. We'll let them know when they catch up with teh FUNNEH....

Skyler said...

It's just more of the message. They say he can't be mocked, so don't you dare try, you bigot.

Besides, he's so serious. He's not dense. Or secretive. It's all seriousness. Let me be clear, you cannot mock him because he's more serious than you.

Dark Eden said...

Oh ffs, the internet is awash with very funny Obama jokes. Left Wing Media comedians are just never going to make hard hitting (aka funny) jokes about any left wing figure, especially not one from an Officially Designated Victim Group.

If they were serious about this, they'd have a roving tour or contests to find the top funniest Obama jokes around the country. But they aren't doing that, are they?

MadisonMan said...

How is it hard not to mock Obama? The speech patterns, the ears, the pompous attitude?

Before I typed more, I read all the comments, and I should just say I agree with Palladian.

AllenS said...

Hard to find anything funny about Obama. His handling of the economy? Oh, hahahahahah. Obama health care? Harharharhar. 57 states? His not understanding what liability car insurance is? The thought that his daughters are getting 3% interest from a bank? I could go on, but you get the picture.

AJ Lynch said...

Ever watch him jog down the steps of an airplane with his hands jiggling in front of him? They could show pics of that and just ask WTF.

AllenS said...

Instead of comedy why not use plain ol' ridicule?

Kirby Olson said...

The way he tacks about to stay away from being mocked should be easy to mock.

knox said...

Why can comedians mock Palin and not Obama? I don't think it relates to ideology. It's more fundamental than that.

Nah. It's ideology. And race.

Comedians aren't nice, generally speaking. They have no problem being bullies.

They want to maintain the facade that he's a strong, competent leader, and they are probably afraid of pushback from the liberal-leaning entertainment industry, if they were to make fun of him. It can cost you a gig, or an invite to dinner with the cool kids.

The Obama skits I've seen on SNL (not many, to be fair) are unbelievably unfunny. Everyone's afraid to make fun of him.

Hagar said...

Obama is easy enough to mock, but it is hard to make him look funny, i.e. mocking him in a "good" way.

KLDAVIS said...

I've noticed that Obama's trademark cadence and tenor of speech is mimicked to death by radio ads for debt consolidation and credit card "relief" agencies. The creators of the ads are obviously trying to lend some credibility to their services by subconsciously connecting them to the President...usually the name of the company is something conspicuously government sounding as well: U.S. Debt Relief or American Credit Services.

Anyone else noticed this?

Class factotum said...

The mom jeans. The pathetic pitch. Austrian. Corpse man. And that's thinking for five seconds.

AF said...

It's a free country. If you have something funny to say about Obama, say it. If people think you're funny, you'll find an audience.

Oh the liberal media is keeping you from having an audience? So sorry.

edutcher said...

As Richard Dolan alludes, the article gets it backwards. Conservatives can laugh at themselves, as well as the other side. It's the Lefties, particularly you know who, who are notoriously humorless when they're on the receiving end.

As for The Zero's ability to be mocked (I was tempted to say mockability), he's very much like Margaret Dumont in the old Marx Brothers movies. As Palladian notes, combine the stratospheric ego and snobbery with his apparent inability to deal with people (Skippy Gates, the mosque), throw in those scripted stentorian cadences, TOTUS, and his own shattering inarticulateness(?), and Groucho would be good for the next 2 years.

Sofa King said...

There's nothing funny about a shattered dream.

Shanna said...

The article goes on to say: "So it isn't that conservatives aren't trying to make fun of Obama -- they are, but they're laughing among themselves. You can usually get folks who already agree with you to laugh just by ridiculing the other side. But unless you can expand your audience beyond the true believers, the effect of the humor will be limited."

You mean, like endless jokes about Bush as a monkey? Yep. Limited humor there.

The key to good humor is truth. If you mock things that are true, both sides will laugh (as long as they recognize the truth). Obama has many characteristics that can be mocked, they just aren’t willing to do it. It will come, though.

dbp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skyler said...

KLDavis asks: The creators of the ads are obviously trying to lend some credibility to their services by subconsciously connecting them to the President...Anyone else noticed this?

This is old hat. They did the same for people who resemble Reagan, then Bush, then Clinton, then W. Bush, etc. It's an old game, nothing new.

dbp said...

I think if someone like Dave Chappelle put even a quarter of his talent into an Obama impression, it would be fall-out-of-your-chair funny.

Maybe we will see it in the 2nd half of Obama's term--when he becomes so unpopular that it will be "safe" to mock him. I could be misremembering, but it seems like the hard core mocking of Carter didn't happen until his final two years.

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

While it may have something to do with race or political affiliation, I think it has more to do with the fact that making fun of a schmuck gets old very fast.

I don't remember Carter being too heavily mocked and he was in office during the heyday of SNL.

wv: zonaleti - I don't know what it means, but it sounds Italian and naughty!

Scott M said...

I don't watch SNL much anymore, but the bit they did last year where he's talking to the Chinese premier through an interpreter was unbelievably funny.

El Pollo Real said...

I don't remember Carter being too heavily mocked and he was in office during the heyday of SNL.

I also sense that our POTUS is so thin skinned that serious mockery would seriously undo his composure. That's just embarassing to see and watch.

A.W. said...

A quick youtube search is likely to turn it up.

Its not that hard.

“We will never cease in our efforts to bring bin Laden to justice.” Applause, “Now, can anyone tell me when tee time is?”

Or hell do a remake of the “baseball bat” scene in Untouchables. You know, a guy screwed up, so Capone gives this speech about how baseball is about teamwork and then beats a man to death with a baseball bat. So maybe first he does this to Rev. Wright, then Jim Johnson, Samanth Power, Austan Goolsbee, Father Pfleger, William Ayers, Van Jones. Then at Shirley Sherrod but then right after he is told he really shouldn’t have whacked her. I am no great comedy writer but its obvious there is comedic possibilities. Then she rises up and says, “LIVE FROM NEW YORK, ITS SATURDAY NIGHT!!!”

Its not hard.

edutcher said...

FormerTucsonan said...

While it may have something to do with race or political affiliation, I think it has more to do with the fact that making fun of a schmuck gets old very fast.

I don't remember Carter being too heavily mocked and he was in office during the heyday of SNL.


It was one of Dan Aykroyd's signature riffs. He did one about Bucketmouth's hemorrhoids that was a scream.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Didn't Obama get in MoDo's face back during the campaign season for her making some remark about his ears?

Making that remark now might get you a visit at 3AM by the Secret Service.

FormerTucsonan said...

El Pollo Real said:

I also sense that our POTUS is so thin skinned that serious mockery would seriously undo his composure. That's just embarassing to see and watch.

Yep, expected response does play into it.

Make fun of Bush's inability to say the word "nuclear", and he'd either decline to respond or yuk it up about good ol' boys from Texas not being able to pronounce "nooka-ler".

Make fun of Obama's ears and you'd just get an icy stare while he scratched his nose with his middle finger.

Freeman Hunt said...

Tell that to Jordan Peele. He does an excellent Obama.

Larry J said...

I also sense that our POTUS is so thin skinned that serious mockery would seriously undo his composure. That's just embarassing to see and watch.

It could also be the fear that a fascist like Nancy Pelosi would call for an investigation into those who dare mock his Obamaness. Maybe they'll feel free to mock him once Nancy is no longer the Speaker of the House come next January. Time will tell.

FormerTucsonan said...

And no man on Comedy Central has bigger biceps than Michelle, so.....

Lem said...

Mr president, I played with Joe Torre, I knew Joe Torre, Joe Torre was a friend of mine. Mr president, you're no Joe Torre.

Fen said...

I am no great comedy writer but its obvious there is comedic possibilities

Most definitely. The new "saved jobs" bogosity immediately comes to mind.


But it is comedic to hear comedy writers justify their political bias by claiming there's nothng mock-worthy in Obama.

Maybe one day SNL will have the stones to mock the comedians who are refuse to mock Obama?

Ha. No. That would mean not getting invited to the right parties to meet the right people to get on the right casting couch.

Whores.

Fen said...

Wait, is SNL still on?

Obviously, they lost me a long time ago.

Kensington said...

It's true that Dan Aykroyd played Jimmy Carter on SNL seveal times during his presidency, but I'm not clear that they ever really made fun of the man with any insight or edge.

Instead, they fell back on gimmicks, like having Carter become the Amazing Colossal Man in one sketch, a concept they could just as easily used on any number of other presidents.

Chevy Chase's Gerald Ford was just as gimmicky, except in that case the gimmick, that Ford was some kind of stumblebum, was designed to make Ford look bad.

In contrast, the Carter sketches seemed to be designed to draw none of the president's own blood. My God, the point of one Carter sketch I can recall was that the president was just too darn smart for his own good.

So, basically, Obama really is Carter, at least as far as SNL is concerned.

dbp said...

Jimmy Carter
Played by Dan Aykroyd


Something like 28 appearances. The thing I remember though is that the early shows were kind of nice portrayals and the later ones made him look like a buffoon.

John Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

Agree with dbp.

They did one early on about his technical wizardry that was pretty mild. When they got to the one about printing money anytime we ran out, the edge was beginning to show.

A.W. said...

well, snl has done gimmicky with obama. for instance, they had obama become hulkobama, with the rock then becoming the hulk version of obama. it actually was pretty funny, but no bite.

it comes down to this. they won't attack a democrat harshly until he really starts to f--- up to the point that no one can avoid mocking him. so carter at first was portrayed nicely, then toward the end they were harsh. bill clinton... there was an early phil hartman version where they ended by saying he would be the greatest president in history. and yeah, they had fun with him taking food from people at mcdonalds. but the knives really didn't come out until monica exploded. bush jr. meanwhile was being hammered from day one. then after 9-11 they had one where the joke was pretty much "Bush will kill the terrorists." So they were kind of laughing at how much Bush will kick our enemy's behinds. so that counts as actually pretty complimentary. and then finally, we know what happened.

Now normally i would expect south park to buck that trend, but am i the only one who noticed that they are are basically pretty respectful of both bush and obama? i mean bush is portrayed on the show defending the first amendment and basically trying to do good. even their short-lived show "that's my bush" had bush being a basically decent guy. Now they did mock clinton, but he was a slut, you know?

Flexo said...

Ha!

The guy is a walking-talking joke. What isn't there to mock?

But I guess when you have your head stuck up that far, it is hard for some folks to see.

Trooper York said...

Comedians are afraid to mock Obama. It is that simple.

I know I have erased many comments and posts that were really funny for fear of what might happen if I posted it.

As that knucklehead Curtis Sliwa said on NY1 last night, he has the protection of his complexion.

It is that simple.

michaele said...

Go to youtube and type in :

I Want Your Money Trailer

It has some funny stuff.

blake said...

It was one of Dan Aykroyd's signature riffs. He did one about Bucketmouth's hemorrhoids that was a scream.

Here's the one I recall most. Carter introduces his new inflation strategy. (I see it's already been mentioned, but here's the bit.)

Inflation is our friend.

For example, consider this: in the year 2000, if current trends continue, the average blue-collar annual wage in this country will be $568,000. Think what this inflated world of the future will mean - most Americans will be millionaires. Everyone will feel like a big shot. Wouldn't you like to own a $4,000 suit, and smoke a $75 cigar, drive a $600,000 car? I know I would! But what about people on fixed incomes? They have always been the true victims of inflation. That's why I will present to Congress the "Inflation Maintenance Program", whereby the U.S. Treasury will make up any inflation-caused losses to direct tax rebates to the public in cash. Then you may say, "Won't that cost a lot of money? Won't that increase the deficit?" Sure it will! But so what? We'll just print more money! We have the papers, we have the mints.

pinkmonkeybird said...

I agree with Larry J, that his arrogance is Obama's Achilles heel. Just about everybody sees his Il Duce-sized arrogance and laughs at him all the time.
American Prospect may be made up of smart people, but hey, it's a big blogosphere out there and it's got to be filled up with stuff everyday, no matter how silly.
Just ask Paul Krugman.

David said...

Never too hot, never too cool . . .

Never too black, never too white . . .

Obama has made it clear that he will play the race card whenever he needs it.

That makes most people tread carefully.

seattleWa said...

Hey Skyler!

Why the long face?

William said...

Getting a bj in the Oval Office. This is the mother lode of all comedy. After Clinton with his red nose and forceful lies, all Presidential mockery seems weak and forced. There can be only one true Bozo, and we have witnessed his coming. We should accept Clinton as our Bozo and not be led astray by phony substitutes.

JAL said...

"Let me be clear..."

That's a start.

JAL said...

"Let me be clear..."

That's a start.

wv paptst
Vatican beer

Trooper York said...

Doing comedy about Obama is very dangerous.

It is almost as embarrasing as the time Meade put on TV Land and tried to watch "The Man from Uncle."

Trooper York said...

The result was just not funny.

Revenant said...

Even if it were true that Obama is "coldly analytical", since when is it impossible to make fun of people like that? People managed to do it with Hoover -- another President seen as dispassionate and analytical during tough economic times.

El Pollo Real said...

It is almost as embarrasing as the time Meade put on TV Land and tried to watch "The Man from Uncle."

I don't get it Blogfather--does Meade have a thing for blonds too?

bagoh20 said...

Man, talk about your echo chamber, or liberal bubble. This guy needs to get out some. I rarely hear Obama mentioned anymore in any other way than mocking, fair or not.

My lefty friends never mention him at all anymore. It's like the guy they voted for never showed up for work.

"But his resume' was on the coolest recycled paper, and his mom said he was cool."

Paul said...

Comedians aren't mocking Obama? Who knew?

Maybe so but most of the rest of the country are beginning to be disgusted with him, left or right side of the isle.

The Crack Emcee said...

This is silly. Rush mocks him daily.

Oh wait - I forgot:

Leftists don't listen to Rush. My bad.

Trooper York said...

No grasshopper. But he feel asleep and when he woke up and saw what was going on he had to go tell Betty.

Just sayn'

jacksonjay said...

"... is a top priority!" Mark Knoller has a list! Very mockable!