April 1, 2014

"Andrew Breitbart's ghost said it, I didn't. don't blame the messenger."

Ken Jennings stands his ground, humor-wise, against the attack of the dreaded Twitchy.

When can it work to select an actual well-known dead person as a character in your joking about dying young? Jennings is more of a quiz-show whizz than a comedy writer, and Twitter boxes everyone in with the short format and wide dissemination, so it's hard to judge from this one example, but this is a case of selecting a dead-young person by his political position to demonstrate the truth of the opposite political position, and if the joke-teller isn't someone who has and wants the comic persona of asshole, this is a bad idea.

But I do like the standing of his ground, after he made the decision to joke about the dead man Breitbart. That takes nerve, and that can be funny. Commit to comedy and don't let the first critics scare you into taking it back and apologizing. It's at this point, when the critics step up, that you have a big opportunity to say something especially funny. Prudes will always be pushing you back. They'll always want everyone to stop laughing. A man died! No one should laugh.

But laughing at death is a good move. If you can't laugh at death, life will be nothing but crying, and that would be true idiocy.

Speaking of true idiocy and commitment to comedy, I got an assist in this post from The 3 Stooges! Bonus points to the reader who can guess what question I had, writing the text above, that led me to Google and resolved my question with help from The 3 Stooges....

... who are all dead!



Oh! No!!!

UPDATE: No one wins the bonus. Answer here

37 comments:

Mark said...

Andrew Breitbart gets the Andrew Breitbart treatment. Only seems appropriate.

Ralph Hyatt said...

I followed the link and it simply isn't funny. It kind of reminds me of this.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=whoopi+goldberg+south+park&FORM=HDRSC3#view=detail&mid=2F28D1AB43024E28FF1E2F28D1AB43024E28FF1E

rehajm said...

Can't blame him from trying since we all now realize we're just one bad joke away from the whole thing coming together and working flawlessly.

James said...

Yes, the only alternative to "lol I was so dumb in mortal life" is depression and crippling ennui. Luckily you're here to interpret Jennings' philosophical musings about the meaningless of life and the absurdity of death.

rhhardin said...

It's the be-offended meme.

Doucebags are good for bleeding the brakes on aircraft, by the way.

tim maguire said...

Sometimes the critics are right.

Rusty said...

Who's the biggest comic persona of an asshole?

You picked Moe because there isn't a full facal shot of garage?

Ron said...

Never say Moe is dead....he is just... unavailable!

Tank said...

Pretty weak joke IMHO, but nothing to get offended about.

Except everyone is offended by everything these days.

One reason I occasionally watch Daniel Tosh is because he does not give a s***. He's not afraid to cross every (I think) line. Of course, half his show is disgusting unfunny BS, but his attitude is refreshing.

Henry said...

What annoys me most is the lols. Drop the lols, Ken. One lol is one too many.

Henry said...

What did Steve Jobs' ghost say?

Curious George said...

Curious George said...
At least make it funny, something like:

"Sen Giffords loves ObamaCare. If you have a half a brain you'll love it too"

Ralph Hyatt said...

I remember watching an episode of "Last Comic Standing" a couple of years ago. The challenge took place in that medieval themed restaurant in L.A. The one with people dressed as knights and serving wenches and they have jousts.

I forget what the challenge was, but one of the comedians wasn't up to it and so just started riffing on how stupid Republicans and conservatives are. Nobody laughed. He seemed surprised.

Guess people who go to medieval themed restaurants without irony weren't his target demographic.

Henry said...

Typing my comment above, I started wondering why we use a possessive for the ghost. Ken Jennings did it for "Breitbart's ghost" and Charles Dickens did it for "Marley's Ghost" so it is certainly the correct usage. Dickens, being a Victorian, capitalized Ghost.

In what way is the ghost a component of the person (as in "Jenkin's ear) as opposed to the person himself?

Why not Andrew Breitbart Ghost, as our robotic commentator would phrase it?

Meade said...

"... who are all dead!"

In the form of a question or we can't give you credit.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Don't really care about Ken Jennings or Breitbart or whatnot but wanted to chime in with agreement that public apologies are so incredibly lame. It's such a pussy, belly-showing move and I hate it when people do it, especially when they're doing it for PR reasons which is 99% of the time. Don't say anything unless you're willing to own it-and if you say it, stick by it.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

One time I sent Meadhouse an email apologizing for having risen to Inga-bait and contributing to a thread derailment. I regret both.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"In what way is the ghost a component of the person (as in "Jenkin's ear) as opposed to the person himself?"

I would say its not you. It's an aspect of you. You includes a body for earthly purposes. We refer to Brietbart's mind for instance, not Brietbart mind. But a mind is as much you as a ghost would be.

EDH said...

Somebody tell Jennings to chill out: they don't run those autoplay video ads at "Breitbart" any more.

Now, that's a slightly amusing quip about a guy who died young and the douche inexplicably obsessing over him.

DrSquid said...

And the winner is: Curious George! And I probably will not footnote him when I steal his ingenious joke repeatedly in the coming days.

Further, and not an effort to derail this discussion: Professor, what's with the new "Who is Althouse?" photo. I've always considered Meade a lucky man for having won your heart, but that is not a flattering pic. You appear to be simultaneously suffering from rosacea and a hangover. Consider rotating the line-up.

Mark said...

DrSquid, given the heavy lids and red eyes, I would guess that photo is from one of their recent Colorado trips.

It's like that Neil deGrasse Tyson in half-time YouTube where once you start thinking he's high you cannot unthink it. I will never see him the same after this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSHNyppwS5w

Just ignore the bong cropped out of the photo here ....

betamax3000 said...

Comedy Stage Open Mic Night Comic says:

How many here believe in ghosts - raise your hands. (pause, counts, nods) Yep, me too, me too, although I'm not really sure on how it all works. I mean, are there happy ghosts? Or is is it all just the disgruntled: ahhh, Heaven-Schmeaven. Big F'ing Deal (laughter). Like I'm going to sit around on a cloud all day, surrounded by my dead relatives for all of eternity? I thought Death would at least finally get me away from them (laughter). And is Uncle Harold going to be there? I certainly don't want to be 'touched that way' again, over and over, until the end of time (laughter)...

Myself, I don't think I've ever seen a ghost; let's face it, if you're spending your afterlife watching a guy living in his parents' basement masturbate you're not a ghost, I am reasonably sure you are in Hell (laughter). I mean, what would a ghost watching me be thinking? (deep voice): Looking back on Life, you know what I really miss most about living? Masturbating (laughter). Yeah: looking back, I don't think I masturbated nearly enough (laughter), missed opportunities, missed opportunities: they haunt me (laughter)...

Thank you all, you've been great...

J Lee said...

Speaking of true idiocy and commitment to comedy, I got an assist in this post from The 3 Stooges! Bonus points to the reader who can guess what question I had, writing the text above, that led me to Google and resolved my question with help from The 3 Stooges....

... who are all dead!


You can actually watch the process of Curly Howard start dying in his last full short -- he had a series of mini-strokes, but Columbia Pictures kept the team working, until he had a major stroke in the middle of filming (Google the YouTube video of "Half Wits Holiday" and you can see the morbid speculation in the comment threads trying to speculate if the exact moment of the onset of the stroke was captured on film -- they actually had Moe and Larry finish filming the short after Curly had been rushed to the hospital).

betamax3000 said...

Henry said...

...why not Andrew Breitbart Ghost, as our robotic commentator would phrase it?

In the past I chose a different format for this situation:

Ghost of Peter O'Toole

Titus said...

Each side is always in a perpetual offense of something the other side has said.

It never stops.

mccullough said...

This was dumb but I don't think he should be ripped because his dumb joke involved a guy whose been dead a few years. If the guy had just died, then a bad joke getting some scorn (even a good joke getting some scorn) is understandable.

But I wouldn't call any attention to a lame partisan. If I did, it would be because he's not funny, as this guy isn't. There are some funny liberals and conservatives but not a lot of people can pull it off.

mccullough said...

Titus,

I'm starting to think the Internet is largely an outlet for partisan whiners, of which there is no shortage.

Mark said...

Titus, agreed.

Plus Breitbart was not the sort to let a few hurt feelings get in the way of the point he was making - it is odd seeing people take offense 'for him' where he would have likely turned around and dished it right back.

As Fox likes to say, it's the wussification of America.

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, nobody got the bonus points yet!

No one even seems to be trying to get them.

Sigivald said...

"Don't blame the messenger. Don't blame the messenger."

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Humor often walks a fine line between the funny and the distasteful. Snapping the tension imposed by the unmentionable is often the source of huge laughs. Sometimes it can go wrong, as I have experienced a few times in my life, saying something I thought was outrageously funny to the wrong person. The only way you can justify your abrogation of cultural norms is if the joke is really funny. This is Jennings's crime-- his tweet just isn't remotely funny. It's just a puerile put-down of a man who can't defend himself.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"This is Jennings's crime-- his tweet just isn't remotely funny. It's just a puerile put-down of a man who can't defend himself."

Exactly. And in doing so he is demeaning himself.

I don't think his tweet is offensive. I think it is pathetic.

gregq said...

mccullough said...

This was dumb but I don't think he should be ripped because his dumb joke involved a guy whose been dead a few years.

No, he should be ripped because at this point pretty much the only people who go after Breitbart are left-wing douchebags. So by going after Breitbart he's shown himself to be a left-wing douchebag. And left-wing douchebags always deserve to be slammed.

Blue Ox said...

Hey, nobody got the bonus points yet!

No one even seems to be trying to get them.


Show me your O Face (with the "safe" settings on)?

Ann Althouse said...

No one wins the bonus. Answer here

jeff said...

Well it wasn't funny, so there's a problem. If Obamacare was even remotely a success, then it has the potential to be funny. As it stands now its "so this dead guy turned his opinion around 180 degrees because Obamacare managed to get 2 million people agree to pay for a policy, but more millions lost their policy and it seems many of those who DID get a policy got a high premium, high deductible policy that few Drs and hospitals honor. Even if you can boil that down to 140 characters, stil not funny.

eric said...

"Curious George said...
At least make it funny, something like:

"Sen Giffords loves ObamaCare. If you have a half a brain you'll love it too"

Now that was hysterical. Why couldn't he have at least said something funny? It makes it so much more offensive when it's not funny.