Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Some people wonder why there are no big-name entertainers doing conservative political comedy. I just read a couple of stories in The Hill and I think I know the answer.

First, this one, about Ted Cruz:
... Speaking on Fox News's "Hannity," Cruz voiced his frustration with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey's responses at a Senate hearing earlier in the day on the administration's plan to combat ISIS militants.

"When I asked Gen. Dempsey, militarily, how would we go in and kill the terrorists before they're able to take jihad to America, his answer was, 'Well, we need to see political reconciliation,'" Cruz said. "We need to change the conditions on the ground so people are not susceptible to extremism. Look, it's not our job to be social workers in Iraq and put them all on expanded Medicaid...."

And then this one, about Rand Paul:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) believes the "Ready." slogan that appeared on t-shirts, posters and billboards in Iowa over the weekend supporting a presidential bid by Hillary Clinton should indicate something else entirely.

"I think that maybe it should mean 'Ready for Testimony,'" Paul, himself a likely 2016 presidential contender, said Wednesday on Glenn Beck's radio show....
Rimshot! Rimshot!

I'm not saying these are funny jokes. But they're jokes. And I think they help explain why there are no A-list political comics on the right: Right-wingers already get all the jokes they need from their own politicians (and pundits and bloggers).

Conservatives don't have well-thought-out approaches to governing -- they have zingers and gotchas. Like these two? They got a million of 'em! Golf! Teleprompters! Hillary rides a broomstick! Joe Biden -- what a buffoon, amirite? Sassing their political enemies is pretty much all they've got. So who needs professional right-wing gagsters when there are so many eager amateurs?


Victor said...

It's understandable why conservatives have only zingers and gotcha's and not real humor - it's because they all have an 'irony deficiency.'


I'll be here all week folks!

Try the roast beef - oh, and don't forget to tip the wait and bar staff!


Tom Hilton said...

Of course the other reason is that right-wingers' conception of "humor" is pure aggression (see Limbaugh, Rush), devoid of any of the traits found in what you and I might find funny.

But yeah, you're right--you don't need one-liners to simplify that which is a one-liner to begin with.

Greg said...

Also, too: There's a lack of willingness to make themselves the joke, ever. Making light of where one falls short can be a fertile source of real humor, but self-deprecation, any kind, equals weakness when one fancies himself a Randian Master. What's left is pointing outward and going "HA-ha!" all the damn time.

Leo Artunian said...

An idea floated on some of the other blogs is that comedy is at its best when it's "punching up," i.e., taking the mick out of those in power. Right-wingers temperamentally prefer to "punch down," to make fun of the less fortunate or those who speak up for their interests.

oc democrat said...

You are LATE to the game Steve.

It has been Obvious to me that after Colbert Destroyed ( was soo soo mean) King George at the Annual Kiss A$$ dinner oh so many years ago!

Yastreblyansky said...

@Leo, to me that's more the difference between quality humor and crap, and traditional liberal (Jack Benny) vs. conservative (Bob Hope) comedy. But punch-down comedy has a big audience. What our current conservative wits like Jonah Goldberg or Sarah Palin don't have is something even more basic. I think @Tom Hilton catches it: it's the punching itself that they like, not the surprise or the oddity or the cunning. They really don't have a sense of humor at all, they just like to hurt people.

Life As I Know It Now said...

oc democrat--ha ha, that was the best dinner ever!

Ken_L said...

Surely you have overlooked the hilarious word games that conservatives play. Obongo! Obungler!! Obummer!!! There must be 101 of them, someone should collect them in a book.

Conservative jokes are funny to other conservatives because they enjoy mocking liberals. People like Mark Steyn have written whole books that consist of a series of one-liner conservative in-jokes. There's nothing objectively humorous about them; they're just a kind of tribal ritual. And of course they take a lot less effort than making a coherent argument.

bgn said...

Right-wingers already get all the jokes they need from their own politicians (and pundits, and bloggers)

--just as they get all the sex they need (e.g. the Sarah Palin cult), all the action heroics they need, all the poetry they need, all the science they need, etc. etc.--basically, for right-wingers the politician (broadly defined to include pundits) is the object of all desire and the subject of all culture worthy of the name...which makes their complaints about American culture being Marxist-leaning all the more laughable; what alternative do they have but pundit worship?