I don’t frequent Gawker, because it is essentially a New York City gossip blog and I hear my fair share of gossip around the water cooler, but on occasion one of their writers will whip something together that strikes up some interest. In this case, Ravi Somaiya wrote up an article titled “Why Aren’t Conservatives Funny?,” and it’s an interesting observation, one worth discussing.
But there is no good right-slanted Onion, or Daily Show or Bill Maher and no right-wing satirist who can nail liberals like Stephen Colbert nails conservatives. In 2007 Fox tried to launch a show to take on Comedy Central (despite Jon Stewart, in particular, sniping across political lines). The 1/2 Hour News Hour, marked by canned laughter, was described as “so heavy handed that it seems almost like self-parody,” and was quickly cancelled.
If the Teabuggers, whose idea of hilarity is at the ‘dress up funny’ level of high-school skits, are the cutting edge, the new generation, then prospects are not looking good for the future either.
Maybe it’s because absurdity and hypocrisy – staples of political humor – are far more prevalent on the right. If a family-values conservative gets caught with a wide-stance in an airport bathroom stall, or claims to be “hiking the Appalachian trail” when he’s in fact schtupping the Argentinian woman, that is amusing. When liberals cheat or lie it tends to be far more mundane.
I remember when the 1/2 Hour News Hour aired a couple of years back and I checked it out, just out of curiosity, even if I felt a little guilty for giving Fox News my share of a ratings boost. It was painful, a total mess of a show, and not just because what they poked fun at didn’t align with my political views. It was just miserably unfunny. Hop on YouTube and you can verify this. It was no wonder that it was cancelled very early in its run.
The writer goes on to examine the recently arrested James O’Keefe who considers himself a humorist as well as an investigative journalist, but he just isn’t funny, and is lowbrow at best. As the writer examines, it could be his having grown up “in a wealthy bubble, in slacks and blazers from the cradle up,” which he says is “almost a prerequisite of conservatism” and when “the toughest experience you’ve had is Juanita ironing an inadequate crease into your golf pants even though you’ve told her about this before, you may struggle to wield the comedy of universal experience.”
An interesting point, although I grew up in a lower to middle class rural town, where conservatism is the standard and people share anti-liberal emails with loved ones on a daily basis, probably somewhat as a result of the rampant religion and a misunderstanding of how government works in general – the typical Confederate flag waving “stay out of my business” attitude towards the government, unless the government is providing them with food stamps and social security.
I do get a lot of laughs from conservatives though – but why is it that I only find them funny when they don’t mean to be? Hell, the only conservative comedian I can think of, Dennis Miller, lost his edge when he “converted” to conservatism or whatever it was he changed about himself after 9/11 that all of the sudden made him a Bush supporter and Fox News regular.
Maybe it’s just because conservatives provide liberals with plenty of ammo for their jokes, or maybe liberals just tend to be more art-oriented, or maybe it’s just a complete coincidence. Whatever the case, the right will continue to risk alienating the malleable minds of the younger generation by being irrelevant, because just as everyone knows humor can win the heart of a woman, humor can win over the minds of the young and undecided.
Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.