Why Aren't There Any Good Conservative Comedians?
It's a valid question, even in light of the specter of Satanism rearing its seven heads over Delaware last week. Actually, maybe that's the quick and dirty answer to my question: the reality of the Tea Party is funnier than any airplane food joke Christine O'Donnell could tell at the Improv.
The operative word here, of course, is "good." One article addressed this very issue last year, showcasing -- along with the likes of Colin Quinn and Nick DiPaolo -- several comics you'd never heard of (and still haven't). The money quote comes from one of them:
Between liberals and conservatives, liberals always support the arts more.
Yes, I can see how that would be a problem.
But in all...comedic seriousness, when one considers those comics at the top of their game right now, the majority are of a decidedly leftist or (increasingly) libertarian bent. I'm thinking specifically of people like Chris Rock, Lewis Black, and Patton Oswalt. Even those without overt leanings one way or the other hold pretty liberal views on most issues (Louis CK on gay marriage, for example).
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Again, this isn't to say there isn't anybody working in stand-up at the other end of the political spectrum...just that none of them are very funny. Today I want to look at a few common examples of right-wing comics that are often thrown out there, examine their actual conservative bona fides, and determine just how humorous they really are. For purposes of this exercise, we're going to stick with living people the average person is likely to have heard of.
Dane Cook Conservative Credentials: Bits include wishing an atheist gets reincarnated as a Bible and going to great lengths to make fun of guys who defend their racism by saying they've "got a black friend" by talking about his black friend. Bleeding Heart Factors: Constantly referring to everyone as "bro" bespeaks a certain universalism. And "SuFi" could be a veiled reference to that mystical branch of Islam. Is He Funny? How you answer this depends on your tolerance for the use of "sangwich" as a punchline.
Drew Carey Conservative Credentials: A supporter of fiscal conservatism, he distances himself from the right on social issues and is a significant contributor to reason.tv, a Libertarian web site; hosts The Price Is Right, the most overtly capitalist show on television. Bleeding Heart Factors: Criticized Bush over Iraq war...pro-medical marijuana...once had nipples pierced. Is He Funny? Dirty Jokes and Beer had its moments, especially the "My Dick Is So Big..." chapter.
Dennis Miller Conservative Credentials: Regular commentator on The O'Reilly Factor, appearances on Hannity & Colmes, self-described conservative Libertarian. Bleeding Heart Factors: Pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, starred opposite Corey Feldman in Bordello of Blood (and was out-acted), almost single-handedly destroyed Monday Night Football. Is He Funny? He was -- intermittently -- before 9-11, which appears to have scared the shit out of him more than actual residents of NYC. And the whole "obscure reference" thing wears thin after a while, even to someone who knows who Tova Borgnine is. Still peforms in Vegas, but Mr. Miller Goes To Washington remains his career performance.
Well, that and Bordello of Blood.
The Blue Collar Comedy Dudes (Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy) Conservative Credentials: Calling yourself "blue collar" anything is essentially a beacon for guys with those fake testicles hanging off their trailer hitch. Foxworthy's "You Might Be a Redneck" bit that he's been milking since Clinton's first term doesn't play well in New England. Bleeding Heart Factors: All three have appeared on television and in the movies, which presumably means they've rubbed elbows with Jews and gays. Are They Funny? I've chuckled once or twice at Engvall, but Larry the Cable Guy is about as humorous as a triple homicide in an orphanage.
Screw it, that's enough. The primary question (aside from why so many of these guys' names start with 'D') is: what's lacking here? Part of it is an absence of self-deprecation in so-called "conservative comedy." For me, the funniest stand-ups have heaped just as much abuse and scorn on themselves as on their targets (to be fair, lefty David Cross has this problem as well). When Fox News attempted their disastrous answer to The Daily Show (The 1/2 Hour News Hour), they spent the whole time making fat jokes about Hillary Clinton and comparing Obama to Marion Berry (I guess because they're both in DC), not poking any fun at themselves.
But that's par for the course, really. Watch Fox, or listen to Rush Limbaugh for as long as you can stand to, and you'll realized none of these people can take it as well as they dish it out.
The other possibility? They're just not that funny. Re-watching these clips, it's hard not to give some credence to that argument as well.