Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Political Comedians

I’ve talked before about politicians using humor to get a point across and relate to voters. Yesterday, there was a column on Big Hollywood dealing with humor and politics in the other direction.

Author Ben Shapiro shines the light on political operatives using comedy as a cover to promote a specific agenda. In this case, he’s specifically looking at Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. I agree with Shapiro for the most part, but feel the conclusion to the column was a bit weak. Instead of taking the opportunity to make a suggestion or further the case against these unfunny hacks, he stoops to their level. Instead of exposing their agenda and blatant hypocrisy, he asks the same type of gotcha/smug questions that they always ask of their “interview” subjects.

I agree that part of a comedian’s job is to poke fun at social norms. Some of the great stand up comics in our history have changed the world with their social commentary. But the difference between them and the current crop is they were actually funny. Liberals and conservatives can both laugh at guys like Carlin, Pryor, and even Chris Rock. They poke a finger in the eye of both sides of the political spectrum, but do it with actual humor and not a goofy face or repetitive shtick. They saw their job as being entertainers, not as promoters of their own political agenda.

Lots of people have lamented the apparent death of civility in our world, and it seems we may have also lost our sense of humor along the way.

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