Sunday, January 5, 2014

The plain truth: Leftists aren't funny

I've been an avid talk radio listener for decades. And I listen to all sorts of shows in this regard, though I tend to favor political ones. For a long time, I listened to Rush Limbaugh and Randi Rhodes on an almost-daily basis, to and from work, grad school, or wherever I might be going. For those unaware, Limbaugh is the nationwide king of conservative talk radio, while Randi Rhodes was--when I first listened to her--a South Florida personality, only. Eventually, she became one of the "big guns" at Air America, along with Al Franken and Janeane Garofala in those years after Bush invaded Iraq when progressives and liberals could really make some waves by criticizing the Administration (not unlike the heady days under Clinton, when the blue dress dominated the news cycle, to the obvious advantage of people like Limbaugh). When not listening to one of these two, I sampled whatever else was available, to the point that I've heard basically every major radio host tackling politics (and many who aren't) across the last ten or more years.

I've also watched--and still watch--my fair share of pundits on TV, with little regard for the network. Unlike talk radio though, I find little enjoyment here. Most of the pundits on the cable news networks just aren't very good at their jobs, in my opinion (with the assumption being that their jobs entail giving insightful commentary about newsworthy current events). Still, they can sometimes be worth watching, when they have interesting guests or when they--on those rare occasions--have something insightful to say.

I note all of this because I want to be clear here: I listen to, read, and watch this stuff. I have for a long, long time. And thus, when I say the following, I want you, my reader, to know that I'm deadly serious: for the most part, liberal and progressive pundits aren't funny. They suck at telling jokes, at any kind of humor, really. When they try to include humor in their political commentary, they fail miserably.

People have wondered for years why talk radio is dominated by the Right. The answer is simple: the talk show hosts who are actually entertaining tend to be conservative. Even the bad hosts on the Right are more entertaining than those on the Left. Seriously. And this same formula has turned out to be true for TV pundits, as well. Step back and think about it. Are there any hosts on, say, MSNBC who are actually funny, who can make clever quips that cause you to crack-up or at least smile broadly? No, there are not. And on the radio? Oh. My. God. Air America in its heyday had hour after hour of progressive talk, hour after hour of dullards pimping a point of view with absolutely no clue how to crack jokes with political overtones.

There are a handful of exceptions, to be sure, but for the most part Leftists just aren't funny, even though they try very hard to be funny, to be clever. But their attempts at humor invariably turn into nothing but lowbrow insults. They hurl these insults, then cackle among themselves. In the case of shows with multiple hosts, one will attempt to make a joke and then the other(s) will interject a round of obviously forced laughter, far too loud and far too long. Of course, on a meta-level this actually is funny to me, though I'm laughing at them, not with them.

Franken and Garofalo represent the epitome of failure in this regard. Over and over again, one of them would offer up an insult of Bush or some other Republican that was supposed to be funny--but wasn't--and the other would break out in uncontrollable laughter, usually repeating the "joke" several times, as well.

Many reading this might be saying to themselves "wait a minute, most of the best stand-up comedians are of a left-leaning sort, so it can't be true that leftists aren't funny." But see, that's not what I'm talking about here. Because true enough, there are far more comedians who lean left than right and many of them are certainly hysterical, but they don't approach humor through a political angle, as a matter of course. They take they openings they are given, and to be frank, this has led to some great comedy at the expense of a number of Republicans and conservatives in general. What they don't do is try to manufacture humor to fit an immediate agenda.

Returning to Franken and Garofalo, I happen to think both are very funny people (or at least were). And when they were just trying to be funny, they usually succeeded. However, when they tried to be funny on demand, on a daily basis, to find humor in any current event at the expense of the Right or someone on the Right, they failed. Their attempts at humor became little more than mean-spirited and obnoxious insults. The only people laughing at these "jokes" were themselves and their tiny legions of fanboys and fangirls.

It's all very much a "pajama party" kind of mentality, wherein stupidity and insult-driven humor is accepted within the members of the "party," even if no one else finds it entertaining. They're really holding their shows for their own personal enjoyment, and it shows. To be fair, this same kind of dopey behavior is also sometimes found on the Right. Glenn Beck's radio show is an obvious example, where giggle-fests over un-funny jokes are commonplace.

Still, the Left owns the stage here, for the most part, a point driven home by the events on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show last week (December 29th, 2013). During a round table discussion on the "photos of the year," Ms. Harris-Perry put a photo up of Mitt Romney, Ann Romney, and their many grandchildren (it was from the Romney's Christmas card). One of those grandchildren happens to be adopted and happens to be black. And that fact brought on some tasteless jokes and, yes, a giggle-fest:


Most of the participants here have since apologized for their behavior and comments. Ms. Harris-Perry apparently broke down in tears while issuing her on-air apology and Mitt Romney has since accepted this apology on his and his family's behalf.

While that's all well and good, the point it, these people--playing the roles of hard-core progressive pundits--made total asses of themselves because they tried to be funny but failed. And they failed because they led with their politics, first and foremost.

Cheers, all.

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