Tragedy is when I cut my finger
September 28, 2017 2:45 PM   Subscribe

“I’m the new Lenny Bruce,” Brad Stine, a conservative Christian comic who’s been likened to Sam Kinison and George Carlin, told me. “That’s how ridiculous this is. They’re not arresting me like they did Lenny; they’re just not allowing me on their TV shows.” Why can't rightwing comics break into US late-night TV?
posted by Artw (176 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Humor has a well-known liberal bias.
posted by adamrice at 2:52 PM on September 28 [39 favorites]


Just a guess... take a beat.... not funny?

And I did watch some of the video, search my deleted comments, not PC, but "be a man" is not funny. (well unless Ellen says... oh never mind)
posted by sammyo at 2:52 PM on September 28 [12 favorites]


In my experience, liberal comedians can do political comedy but also tackle all sorts of other topics. Conservative comedians who specifically bill themselves as conservative comedians seem to only be able to do "liberals!!!!!1111" jokes. If all, say, George Carlin did was rant about conservatives and nothing else he would have been terrible too. Bill Maher is probably the closest to this on the left and I find him insufferable.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:54 PM on September 28 [111 favorites]


Didn't someone try this with a satirical late night news show in the style of The Daily Show a few years ago? I believe it was not successful.
posted by Fizz at 2:54 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Comedy should always punch up, not down. Simple as that.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:56 PM on September 28 [151 favorites]


Yeah, that's covered up front in the article - The Half Hour News Hour on Fox in 2007 and it tanked horribly.
posted by drewbage1847 at 2:56 PM on September 28 [7 favorites]


Having gotten that throwaway line out of my system, I think it's not that conservatives are incapable of being funny, but rather that the kind of humor that Jon Stewart practiced just doesn't work when coming from the other perspective…because the audience is not receptive to it.

I'm not the first person to point out that conservatives tend to take a more black-and-white view of the world, and political comedy needs to be able to poke fun at the home team. That doesn't play with a conservative audience. So, as Sangermaine says, in order to cater to that audience you wind up with "Liberals!" jokes, which Rush Limbaugh already has sewn up.
posted by adamrice at 2:57 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]


In turn, anyone who’s turned on a television in the past 15 years might infer that conservatives, or conservative comics, just aren’t funny.

This, of course, is not the case; humor itself has no political allegiance. It was Trump, after all, who campaigned on a kind of Don Rickles-esque insult comedy, his excesses disguised as showmanship, his prejudices as performance.


So, Exhibit A that humor doesn't have an inherent anti-authoritarian socially-liberal bias is... Donald Trump? I find this somewhat less than persuasive.

The gatekeepers are gone. Right-wing comics have a platform and an audience. The reason they are commercially less successful is because they are artistically less successful. What has befallen this country is something to be laughed at, not to be laughed with, if one is laughing at all.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:57 PM on September 28 [41 favorites]


Iconoclasm works best when you're in opposition to the side in power, not aligned with it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:59 PM on September 28 [15 favorites]


Humor is the great equalizer - Conservatism is the great unequalizer.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:01 PM on September 28 [27 favorites]


This is a fascinating article. Good share.
posted by Fizz at 3:01 PM on September 28


I'm going with 'mean-spirited horseshit isn't as funny as mean-spirited horseshitters think it is'.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:01 PM on September 28 [164 favorites]


Asshole comedians are never funny - see Andrew Dice Clay for a good example.
posted by Docrailgun at 3:02 PM on September 28 [30 favorites]


I think as much as these people would scoff at the very concept of punching up/down, no matter how conservative you are, a whole hour of material essentially laughing about people freezing to death in plane wheels will feel uneasy and not that funny after a while?
posted by ominous_paws at 3:02 PM on September 28 [17 favorites]


So, I listened to the first 5 minutes of that dude, and... There wasn't a joke ?

I mean, the audience laughed when he said he if heard "Happy Holidays" again, he was gonna throw up, box that vomit up, and then mail it to the ACLU with a "Merry Christmas" sign.

Which I guess is amusing enough, I suppose. But it's more rant than joke.

And that's what I seem to get from most/all "conservative" comedians. They're a lot like "Christian Rock" - they end up not doing either thing justice.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:03 PM on September 28 [68 favorites]


I watched the first minute of that Stine video, couldn't stomach more, and all I could think was "this guy wants to be a racist without saying it explicitly."
posted by billsaysthis at 3:04 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


Want to make fun of liberals? Hire leftists. Twitter is full of brutally funny ones. The circular firing squad has excellent marksmen.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:04 PM on September 28 [164 favorites]


Conservative politics at the national level has the electoral college to hop over the hurdle of more voting age Americans leaning away from (social) conservatism. Entertainment and comedy are markets, though, so if they're not buying what one's selling then the product's not going to be a blockbuster.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:05 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


Plus there's like, multiple holidays that time of year? But I guess that goes under why right wing concerns are dumb and self absorbed in general.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


Watch Brad Stine pace back and forth on stage like a caged lion, saying nothing funny at all, and your question will be answered. Maybe there are some funny conservative comedians out there...but he ain't one of them.
posted by kozad at 3:05 PM on September 28 [11 favorites]


You'd think these conservatives would be proud of the fact that nobody wants to pay them; it's the market at work!
posted by Existential Dread at 3:07 PM on September 28 [117 favorites]


The article spends a lot of time claiming that, really, conservative comedy can be funny if given a chance, but does nothing to back it up.

When the thrust of your routine is “weren’t things better when those people knew their place??” your market is pretty much limited to assholes who would laugh just as hard at CCTV videos of police brutality, so what’s the point?
posted by uncleozzy at 3:07 PM on September 28 [46 favorites]


Yes, from spot checking through that video (ya no, full 30min would cause breakage of teacups) it seemed quite single topic, stop being PC. And watered down, as a even public right wing comics know that in ANY potentially public forum, non-PC traditional jokes are just mostly rancid and not acceptable in any venue. So that limits the range intrinsically.

And not being able to laugh at oneself (ones tribe) seems to be a limiting line.
posted by sammyo at 3:08 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]


Even Parker and Stone, the mono-culture's foremost practitioners of "Nothing Matters LMFAO" humor, gave up doing politics when Trump actually, ya know, got elected President of the United States. I guess it stopped being funny.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:10 PM on September 28 [17 favorites]


Punching upwards is comedy, punching downwards is bullying (when it comes to nazis, sock 'em straight in the jaw)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:10 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


Want to make fun of liberals? Hire leftists. Twitter is full of brutally funny ones.

good god but they drove that Verrit shit into the ground though

South Park can be funny at liberals' expense. Conservative humor certainly exists and reaches audiences, but if you're coming at it agenda-first you're probably going to be pretty fucking dire
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:11 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


Similarly, ManBearPig will stop being funny if Parker and Stone die in an extreme weather event
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:11 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


Bullshit, it will become much, much funnier
posted by ominous_paws at 3:13 PM on September 28 [43 favorites]


Isn't the monumental success of South Park pretty strong evidence that right wing humour does really well when it's, you know, actually funny?
posted by howfar at 3:15 PM on September 28 [29 favorites]


The argument that most fits with my experience is that conservative comedians fail because 21st century American conservatism is entirely based on grievances, and they just end up being angry and ranting out their semi-coherent rage rather than actually making jokes. It doesn't help that their entire media sphere bears almost zero relationship to reality so anyone who hasn't bought in 100% will be dumbfounded by half of it, or that most of their attempts at jokes end up being personal attacks on some portion of their theoretical audience.
posted by Copronymus at 3:16 PM on September 28 [58 favorites]


I think the people behind South Park have always rejected the idea that they were promoting a right-wing agenda, and there's a lot of truth behind that. They were promoting a nihilist agenda. It just so happens the Republican party has shifted in a nihilist direction.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:17 PM on September 28 [96 favorites]


Actually, now that I think of it, right-wing humor is very popular and widely consumed - in meme form and on Reddit and other places I am too old to know about. These comics are too old to know about them as well. A guy who wrote for the Arsenio Hall Show? I mean, it's not Pluggers age or anything, but comedy moves fast.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:18 PM on September 28 [17 favorites]


good god but they drove that Verrit shit into the ground though

Twitter runs everything into the ground. An incompetent pro-Clinton propaganda site run by a '90s light-club-music producer who was not only conscripted as a child into the Lebanese Christian Falangist militia, but is also the nephew of Erica "Zipless Fuck" Jong, is inherently incredibly funny, so I can forgive it this one.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:19 PM on September 28 [25 favorites]


Iconoclasm works best when you're in opposition to the side in power, not aligned with it.


I've been thinking about this in a related manner recently - about how our names for and concepts of "right and "left" stem from the French revolution and and the physical arrangement of royalists and populists. As what I would call the 'liberal order' of enlightenment-derived government has continued and more "left" ideas have gained traction, those on the left (liberals, modernizers, progressives) have found themselves working to maintain and accrue gains, while those on the right (conservatives, traditionalists, tories) have sought to destroy the existing order and replace it with a claimed older system.

Odd place for conservatives, that. There is a lot of tension there, but while tension have been profitably mined for humour before, I don't know of a successful work in this vein.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:20 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]


“I created a comedy special and we took it to Showtime,” he explains. “I’ll tell you exactly what they said to me: this would probably be the highest-rated show in our history, but we’re not going to do it because it would damage our brand."
“I totally asked out that hot girl at the bar,” he explains. “I’ll tell you exactly what she said to me: you would probably be the greatest lover I ever had, but I'm not going to sleep with you because I'm intimidated by your unbelievable good looks and obviously giant penis."
posted by Sangermaine at 3:21 PM on September 28 [213 favorites]


“I’ll tell you exactly what they said to me: this would probably be the highest-rated show in our history, but we’re not going to do it because it would damage our brand."

I take everything back, this shit is hilarious
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:22 PM on September 28 [105 favorites]


“It’s a stacked deck,” Stine says defiantly. “But if you gave me a television show tomorrow, stocked the audience with conservatives, and gave me 20 writers from Harvard, Yale and Brown, I’d be a genius too.”

Geez. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Take some personal responsibility for your own bad decisions!*

* Am I doing this conservative thing right?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:22 PM on September 28 [127 favorites]


“This would probably be the highest-rated show in our history, but we’re not going to do it because I've recently developed an allergy to money."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:23 PM on September 28 [29 favorites]


I heard "conservative comedian" and immediately thought Nick Di Paolo. Who can be very funny, who can be very political, but rarely both at once.

What many of the lesser conservative comedians fail to grasp is that other comedians' jokes aren't funny because they target conservatives -- they're funny because they target ridiculousness. Which leaves many prominent conservatives with gigantic KICK ME signs on their backs, of course, but it's hardly exclusive to them.

Meanwhile, I can turn on comedy stations on Sirius XM and hear racist, sexist, homophobic and insensitive jokes all day long. Hardly a SJW safe space. And that's just Larry the Cable Guy.
posted by delfin at 3:23 PM on September 28 [32 favorites]


A devout Christian woman I know once told me she would never hire a company that primarily advertised itself as Christian, as in her experience those companies were leaning on their religious affiliation as a crutch to compensate for sub-par work. I suspect the same of this comedian.
posted by davejay at 3:27 PM on September 28 [155 favorites]


and gave me 20 writers from Harvard, Yale and Brown

Ah yes, known comedy factories all
posted by Existential Dread at 3:27 PM on September 28 [9 favorites]


Well, to be fair, Harvard definitely is.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:28 PM on September 28 [18 favorites]


The other problem with Conservative humor is that humor is about upsetting the status quo and conservativism is about... well, maintaining it. If we liked in the world of their paranoid fantasies, their humor would have bite, but most people realize we don't.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:29 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


I think the people behind South Park have always rejected the idea that they were promoting a right-wing agenda, and there's a lot of truth behind that.

The vast majority of funny left wing comics would reject the idea that they are promoting a liberal agenda. They are just telling jokes from their perspective, which isn't to say that their perspective doesn't matter, it's just that they value getting laughs over confirming their tribal loyalty. Comics whose prime aim is to change the world aren't usually that funny (although comics whose lack of ideological consistency renders their work artistically incoherent are often problematic yes Boyle I'm looking at you lad). South Park is right wing, but it is primarily focused on being funny. The problem with much avowedly "right wing" comedy is that it tends to be not primarily comedy, but primarily politics. Don't expect the market to support comedy that isn't focusing on the things that actually attracts advertisers.
posted by howfar at 3:29 PM on September 28 [11 favorites]


The best right-wing comedy I can think of is Atlas Shrugged Part 3, a movie that was produced after Part 1 and Part 2 were critical and commercial disasters, but with an entirely new cast and crew, that went on to be a critical and commercial disaster. Village Voice: "Rand’s parable is meant to showcase just how much our world needs the best of us, but this adaptation only does so accidentally — by revealing what movies would be like if none of the best of us worked on them."

wait we were talking about intentional comedy
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:30 PM on September 28 [35 favorites]


"I’ll tell you exactly what [Showtime] said to me: this would probably be the highest-rated show in our history..."

o.O
posted by davejay at 3:31 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Conservative comics are not funny.
They are a joke.
posted by adamvasco at 3:32 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


Oh how I laughed at that allegation. I'm sad that the author didn't follow up with someoneat Showtime, for hilarity purposes.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:33 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


I feel sure that just as with the Atlas Shrugged Money Pit, there are conservative millionaires around the country who would jump at the chance to finance a right-wing ideological comedy vehicle, and they probably do; you just don't hear much about them because they suck ass
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:33 PM on September 28 [7 favorites]


I watched the first minute of that Stine video, couldn't stomach more

You missed out on fart jokes.

In a moment where he came dangerously close to self awareness, he has a bit where he tells the audience that there's going to be people that are better than them and asks them if they're going to whine about it or improve themselves.

“I’m the new Lenny Bruce. That’s how ridiculous this is. They’re not arresting me like they did Lenny; they’re just not allowing me on their TV shows. ... It’s McCarthyism lived out in real time...”
Loftus is quizzical but restrained
"Joke" from one of his shows - image of two oriental men shaking hands while Loftus speaks in an imitation oriental accent. See, it's funny because they're not white.
posted by Candleman at 3:34 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


A devout Christian woman I know once told me she would never hire a company that primarily advertised itself as Christian, as in her experience those companies were leaning on their religious affiliation as a crutch to compensate for sub-par work. I suspect the same of this comedian.

My dad learned this lesson the hard way by hiring an HVAC company to repair the AC in August primarily because they're company advertised with a Jesus Fish, only to nearly get into a fist fight in the front yard with the company owner after the owner tried to screw him out of his money and a functioning AC.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:38 PM on September 28 [18 favorites]


In turn, anyone who’s turned on a television in the past 15 years might infer that conservatives, or conservative comics, just aren’t funny. This, of course, is not the case; humor itself has no political allegiance. It was Trump, after all, who campaigned on a kind of Don Rickles-esque insult comedy, his excesses disguised as showmanship, his prejudices as performance.

Uhghghg, people who write about comedy should at least understand what comedy is. At the very basest level, successful comedy must have some element of the unexpected. Don Rickles was a comedian because (at the time) it was unexpected for someone to just come out and insult everyone. As his career wore on, he became less funny to the uninitiated because his schtick wasn't surprising at all. I watched a couple minutes of the comedian in the video, and his comedy didn't have much that was unexpected either - it just seemed more like well-rehearsed, yet not-at-all-unexpected, complaining.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:39 PM on September 28 [20 favorites]


Dennis Miller pre-9/11.

Dennis Miller post-9/11.

Solve for x.
posted by delfin at 3:40 PM on September 28 [79 favorites]


This is really just part of the current push for far-right people to try and get their voices heard by claiming censorship. It's working, too, because this Stine guy sucks, but now he gets to have a profile in the Guardian. Not because he's funny, but because "free speech" is the talk of the town, and it's literally all he has going for him. This is a great time to be a talentless right wing jagoff.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:42 PM on September 28 [44 favorites]


"A devout Christian woman I know once told me she would never hire a company that primarily advertised itself as Christian, as in her experience those companies were leaning on their religious affiliation as a crutch to compensate for sub-par work. I suspect the same of this comedian."

A related William S. Burroughs quote:
“Never do business with a religious son-of-a-bitch. His word ain't worth a shit -- not with the Good Lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.”
posted by jonathanhughes at 3:42 PM on September 28 [72 favorites]


This is a great time to be a talentless right wing jagoff.

You might even get to wield a nuclear arsenal!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:43 PM on September 28 [9 favorites]


A devout Christian woman I know once told me she would never hire a company that primarily advertised itself as Christian, as in her experience those companies were leaning on their religious affiliation as a crutch to compensate for sub-par work. I suspect the same of this comedian.

It's this. I've seen some very funny people who turned out to be conservative. For instance, I busted a gut watching Armin Shimerman on Regis & Kathy Lee in a recent thread, and he's all about Libertarianism... but his humor wasn't. He poked fun at himself as much as anybody, he was generous with his praise of others and genuinely seemed like a decent guy to hang out with.

I find his politics *repellent*, but he was self-aware and generally professional enough to do the same stuff liberal talent does, and it worked just as well for him as anybody.

People who are billing themselves as 'conservative comics' are looking for easy mode - they want to succeed because people agree with them, without putting in the work. I guess to be fair to them, that works with lots of other stuff.

Upon preview:
This is really just part of the current push for far-right people to try and get their voices heard by claiming censorship.

Pretty much this. Good artists don't need to lean on their cred in a subculture - they work hard and make something people like.
posted by mordax at 3:43 PM on September 28 [40 favorites]


Libertarians can be popular and funny— cf. Dave Barry, Pete Bagge, South Park— probably because they don't have any problem mocking right-wingers.

I don't think authoritarians can do funny. It requires an ability to find universals and question conventions, and those don't go well with the authoritarian mindset.

What they can do is mockery. This used to be highly popular— think of how much early 20th century humor was ethnic jokes. It's just ugly today.
posted by zompist at 3:43 PM on September 28 [44 favorites]


I feel sure that just as with the Atlas Shrugged Money Pit, there are conservative millionaires around the country who would jump at the chance to finance a right-wing ideological comedy vehicle, and they probably do; you just don't hear much about them because they suck ass

The problem is their advanced experiments to develop the next Larry the Cable Guy accidentally gave us Jeff Dunham and the whole program was scrapped, so they're still digging out of that hole.
posted by Copronymus at 3:44 PM on September 28 [7 favorites]


"Handmaidens... can't live with them, can't live without them. They're always so quiet, and just kind of lurking. Spooks me but good! But I'll tell you, there are some Handmaidens who have some habits I'd like to drop... AM I RIGHT FELLAS WHO ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE IN THIS AUDIENCE???"
posted by tittergrrl at 3:47 PM on September 28 [73 favorites]


Libertarians can be popular and funny— cf. Dave Barry, Pete Bagge, South Park— probably because they don't have any problem mocking right-wingers.

I don't think authoritarians can do funny. It requires an ability to find universals and question conventions, and those doesn't go well with the authoritarian mindset.


Hm. And that's a fair distinction, zompist. Everybody right-wing I can think of who's funny skews Libertarian rather than authoritarian offhand, and I'm sure you're right about why.

Oh, also: people who are talking about humor being about surprise have some academic backing, as I understand it.
posted by mordax at 3:47 PM on September 28 [7 favorites]


Jeff Dunham has a comedy special on Netflix, proving that unfunny racist assholes do just fine in the comedy world. Anybody who can't outdo Jeff Fucking Dunham has nobody to blame but themselves.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:49 PM on September 28 [18 favorites]


Pete Bagge* was a surprise to me, South Park wasn't - cumulatively that shows philosophy is very "fuck everyone but especially those guys" and "those guys" are always progressive.

Interesting that these are all libertarians. I guess having a stupid view of how economics work doesn't get in the way of being funny quite as much as social conservatism.

* I've met Peter Bagge. I was at a party at his neighbors house and he came by looking for his lost cat, which is very Peter Bagge.
posted by Artw at 3:52 PM on September 28 [7 favorites]


To be fair I watched a few of his videos. He's not funny.
posted by Splunge at 3:53 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I don't think authoritarians can do funny. It requires an ability to find universals and question conventions, and those doesn't go well with the authoritarian mindset.

I think it's partly that, but also, it's kind of hard to be funny when all of your lines come out of Chick tracts.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:54 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


What they can do is mockery. This used to be highly popular— think of how much early 20th century humor was ethnic jokes. It's just ugly today.

This is such an important point. The rise of "political correctness gone mad" is a rise in visceral opposition to punching down, in word and in deed. It's a rise in empathy for the oppressed and a desire to lift people up rather than mocking them or kicking them when they're down. Resentment of this social change is what binds Trump and the libertarians and the Fox Nation together.

(And then there are people who are just in it for the corporate tax cuts. We'll see how that works out.)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:55 PM on September 28 [30 favorites]


Nathan Rabin reviewed an animated special of Jeff Dunham's Achmed the Dead Terrorist. If that got made, don't come whining to us about the liberal establishment holding the purse-strings.

A lot of humor is based on fear. Right or left, we make fun of things because they scare us. Right-wingers make fun of gender-nonconforming people because under their contempt is fear, a fear that these people will somehow attack or poison what's good and right. They make fun of the disabled and the allergenic because under their disgust is a fear that these people are somehow contagious, or that their presence in society will weaken it. If you don't share that fear, then you don't crack a smile at those jokes, and being "triggered" has nothing to do with it.

There are some very funny conservative humorists and comedians, but they're funny exactly as long as they aren't pulling that shit. I won't kid you, I've laughed at the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, but the hell I'd pay for a seat there.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:56 PM on September 28 [21 favorites]


I think the main complaint is they can't force us to watch them.
posted by Artw at 3:59 PM on September 28 [31 favorites]


This is really just part of the current push for far-right people to try and get their voices heard by claiming censorship.

Well, sure, but can you even be a conservative without being an aggrieved whiny-ass simpering crybaby ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:21 PM on September 28 [9 favorites]


I think that's answered by the whole "I'm Lenny Bruce! Nobody handed me a contract out of the blue!" complaint.
posted by Artw at 4:23 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


(the bit where he didn't want to give another driver the finger so he just held up his whole hand and said, "Guess!" was kinda funny)
posted by straight at 4:25 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


Actually, now that I think of it, right-wing humor is very popular and widely consumed - in meme form and on Reddit and other places I am too old to know about.

So, basically Mike Judge comedy? Because I'm thinking of Silicon Valley and Office Space, both of which are super popular on Reddit.
posted by FJT at 4:31 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


In my experience, libertarian comics are typically funniest, left-leaning comics are hit or miss, and conservative comics broadly aren't funny.

I think good comedy requires challenging things that are sacred, doing things you aren't Supposed to. Broadly, conservatives aren't as into that. So they aren't as funny, as least not in a stand-up comic sort of way.

Humor especially thrives on mocking rigidity or piety. In that sense, social justice-oriented—i.e., "politically correct"—language and thought policing provides some opportunity for anti-left-leaning comedy. Libertarians, such as the South Park guys, or Doug Stanhope, manage to critique that in a way that's thoughtful and funny.

When conservative try, they more or less say "Can you believe the rigidity of these liberals? HOW DARE THEY?" and then they end up being an even dumber version of what they seek to mock. Certainly Stine is an example of that.
posted by andrewpcone at 4:32 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


What a lot of conservatives consider "comedy" often comes across more as rank bigotry, toxic masculinity, dickishness.
posted by anem0ne at 4:33 PM on September 28 [14 favorites]


The other day on twitter I saw a right winger tweeting about how if Hunter S. Thompson were alive today, he would definitely be a trump supporter. I have to admit that shit was hilarious.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:34 PM on September 28 [20 favorites]


i mean, he loved Nixon, so...
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on September 28 [7 favorites]


That one shitty Bill Hicks impersonator guy, he's got to be a Trump guy now.
posted by Artw at 4:36 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


What a lot of conservatives consider "comedy" often comes across more as rank bigotry, toxic masculinity, dickishness.


Maybe sometimes, but that isn't why Stine isn't funny. I wouldn't say he's guilty of any of those things, at least not in the bit linked to in the FPP. He's not funny because he seems to think that ranting and petulance, plus some playful delivery, makes him funny. What he's missing, which good offensive comics have, is self-reflection, self-deprecation, puzzling over complex issues. If you subtract that reflexivity from the greatest comics, they look pathetic.
posted by andrewpcone at 4:36 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


I dunno, I couldn't get past about 7 minutes or so of the video in that article, but his big thing in those minutes was about "wussiness", and the focus on it sounded awful... toxic.
posted by anem0ne at 4:39 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]


his big thing was about "wussiness", and the focus on it sounded awful... toxic.

He's saying you should have the courage of your convictions. A lefty bumper sticker version of the same point is "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." I don't think that is toxic at all. Note that he barely (ever?) makes that gendered. Calling out cowardice is a good thing, and even if the word "wuss" has sometimes been used in a misogynistic or homophobic spirit, I think that isn't what he means here.

Nitpicking his language and try to find where he has done something Wrong, which plays directly into his "I've been blacklisted!" bullshit narrative.

The reason his name isn't in lights is because he brings us no insight, and he makes us laugh only in the most mean spirited way (if at all). In short, he isn't funny. And even if he said "coward" instead of "wuss," he still wouldn't be funny, and he would be no closer to earning himself comedic fame.
posted by andrewpcone at 4:45 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


self-reflection, self-deprecation

Conservatives are inherently incapable of either of those.
posted by Artw at 4:45 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


Conservatives are inherently incapable of either of those.

That is mean-spirited and blatantly false. Generalized character attacks on "conservatives" are boring and unlikely to do any good. I don't know if you are just trying to troll here, or if you've genuinely never seen a conservative person do that, but either way, you are full of shit.

I would agree that self-reflection and self-deprecation are less valued in conservative public discourse. Maybe that's what you meant to say? Even that is a pretty broad generalization though.
posted by andrewpcone at 4:48 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I know more about a person from the jokes they like than any belief they profess.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 4:52 PM on September 28 [9 favorites]


Well, sure, but can you even be a conservative without being an aggrieved whiny-ass simpering crybaby ?

No doubt this is evidently why every Hollywood conservative martyrishly insists on being referred to as "one of Hollywood's few outspoken conservatives": yes, yes, there are so few of you, Clint Eastwood and Scott Baio and Tim Allen and Patricia Heaton and Gary Sinise and John Malkovich and Jeff Dunham and Angie Harmon and Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak and Chuck Norris and Craig T. Nelson and Jon Voight and Dennis Miller and James Woods and Michael Medved and Jeff Foxworthy and Sly Stallone and Caitlyn Jenner and Drew Carey and Kirk Cameron and Tom Selleck and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Sorbo and James Caan and Kurt Russell and David Mamet and Melissa Joan Hart and Rob Schneider and Vince Vaughn and Bruce Willis and Rick Schroeder and Stephen Baldwin and Jerry Bruckheimer and Stacy Dash and Gene Simmons, and you are all so quiet.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 4:53 PM on September 28 [119 favorites]


The gatekeepers are gone. Right-wing comics have a platform and an audience. The reason they are commercially less successful is because they are artistically less successful.

I suspect there is a bit of commercially successful conservative comedy (of one kind or another) on online platforms?

And as several people have mentioned there certainly have been successful right-wing standups and radio guys. Especially if you include right-libertarian types.

Iconoclasm works best when you're in opposition to the side in power, not aligned with it.

A huge number of contemporary conservatives earnestly believe themselves to be persecuted, though.

I suspect it's true that you don't find a lot of e.g. very serious evangelicals who are also good comics, because they have too many self-imposed restrictions. But other than that - and I'm considering this from the standpoint of popular and commercial viability, not morality - I don't really buy any of the "comedy does this, not that" arguments. Successful right-wing comics find an audience and organically develop an act that appeals to that audience. The guys who are trying to do the "conservative Daily Show" or whatever can't make it work because they're trying way too hard to do an inversion of somebody else's format.
posted by atoxyl at 4:54 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


...and Kelsey Grammar! How could I forget the shy and retiring Kelsey Grammar?
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 4:56 PM on September 28 [22 favorites]


It's this. I've seen some very funny people who turned out to be conservative. For instance, I busted a gut watching Armin Shimerman on Regis & Kathy Lee in a recent thread, and he's all about Libertarianism... but his humor wasn't. He poked fun at himself as much as anybody, he was generous with his praise of others and genuinely seemed like a decent guy to hang out with.

Mike Nelson loves National Review. He's also one of the most consistently funny comedy creators of the last quarter century, because his focus is on creating comedy, not on proselytizing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:58 PM on September 28 [16 favorites]


A huge number of contemporary conservatives earnestly believe themselves to be persecuted, though.

That's funny but only in the laughing at not laughing with way.

I would agree that self-reflection and self-deprecation are less valued in conservative public discourse. Maybe that's what you meant to say? Even that is a pretty broad generalization though.

Their political philosophy is literally centered around social darwinist survival of the fittest with them cast as the fittest, admitting any flaws is simply not a thing that comes them.
posted by Artw at 5:07 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


He's saying you should have the courage of your convictions. A lefty bumper sticker version of the same point is "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." I don't think that is toxic at all. Note that he barely (ever?) makes that gendered. Calling out cowardice is a good thing, and even if the word "wuss" has sometimes been used in a misogynistic or homophobic spirit, I think that isn't what he means here.

Oh, no, I quite understood that. His message had all the subtlety of one of Dennis Miller's stupid "here's a smart reference that i'm going to put in here just because I can".

And I totally get that my disdain for his use of "wuss" and viewing it as reifying certain toxic notions could be considered offense on my part. What you--and he, I assume--miss is that I'm still perfectly within my rights to still make that judgement. I'm not a network executive, I'm an audience member he's trying to sell to. I don't like his product. So I won't buy, and what he's put on display does not make me think he's someone I'd enjoy, particularly given his juvenile and shallow understanding of political correctness.

Nitpicking his language and try to find where he has done something Wrong, which plays directly into his "I've been blacklisted!" bullshit narrative.

Sorry, this is fucking absurd. Stand-up comedy, which entails telling jokes, often made of words, and all of a sudden, nitpicking his words is somehow off-limits?

Humor can be awfully subjective, and you trying to somehow explain why my subjective opinion here is wrong is ridiculous.
posted by anem0ne at 5:08 PM on September 28 [27 favorites]


“I created a comedy special and we took it to Showtime,” he explains. “I’ll tell you exactly what they said to me: this would probably be the highest-rated show in our history, but we’re not going to do it because it would damage our brand."

“I totally asked out that hot girl at the bar,” he explains. “I’ll tell you exactly what she said to me: you would probably be the greatest lover I ever had, but I'm not going to sleep with you because I'm intimidated by your unbelievable good looks and obviously giant penis."


The first example is right up there with something my brother told my mother. (At age 51, he has worked a succession of random joe jobs, i.e., restaurant manager, airplane parts sales rep, roofing, currently lumberyard manager.) He claimed that when he interviewed for a job as a sales rep, the company owner told him he couldn't hire him because he'd outsell all the other sales reps and cause jealousy and it would be bad for morale. My mother bought it but I nearly died laughing when she told me about it. Egotism and lack of self-awareness is funny, but not in any intentional way.

I have never heard him brag of his prowess with women, thankfully, but I wouldn't be surprised if his friends have, the poor chumps.
posted by orange swan at 5:08 PM on September 28 [10 favorites]


This, of course, is not the case; humor itself has no political allegiance. It was Trump, after all, who campaigned on a kind of Don Rickles-esque insult comedy, his excesses disguised as showmanship, his prejudices as performance. Trumpism, too, exposed not just virulent strains of nativism in the electorate, but an appetite for politics as entertainment, for a mordant “straight-talker”, the right’s very own Jon Stewart.

Was this author high? I mean - sure, people probably laughed at the awful things Trump said during his preelection rallies, but that didn't make him a freaking comedian and especially not a satirist.
posted by 41swans at 5:16 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]


I'm legitimately struggling to think of an actor or comedian who was at the height of their powers, declared themselves proudly conservative, and then watched their fortunes decline. It seems to be something people get excited about once their stars have greatly faded, and then they start complaining about it. Working from the list above, this seems to be a laundry list of people who have cascaded from A- or B-list down to E through F-list, and then "discovered" their conservatism as a way to stay relevant, not people who were relevant for the whole ride.

Or people who really aren't that conservative in the first place, like Willis. Or just generally going nuts, like Malkovitch.

But I can't think of any genuinely talented professional performer who has legitimately suffered for being publicly conservative. It just seems to be something some once-famous people reach for on the way down.
posted by Shepherd at 5:17 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


Docrailgun: Asshole comedians are never funny - see Andrew Dice Clay for a good example.

Dice can be funny in context, a greaser loudmouth alpha male character persona crafted by Andrew Silverstein over decades in comedy clubs and even sold out Madison Square Garden at its apex. Ultimately, it's like Archie Bunker on All In the Family: for every audience member that got the joke of the show being a lampoon of racist and reactionary ideas with Archie as buffoon, many more tuned in because they genuinely agreed with what he said.
posted by dr_dank at 5:20 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


I realize no simple theory of comedy is complete or accurate but I figure the three planks of the Daily Show and its children are:

1. A book deal promo everyone skips.
2. Actual footage of politicians saying things. Often followed by them contradicting themselves in another venue.
3. Reason over dogma

#1 seems dispensable. #2 seems like it could work on politicians regardless of affiliation, but #3 appears to be a deal breaker for conservatives, both in the audience and on the stage. Which is likely why the libertarian comedians seem to get by fine.
posted by pwnguin at 5:26 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


Doesn't anybody remember the 1990s? The whole reason liberalish political satire became a thing on late night television is that liberals spent the early 1990s on a futile quest to create their own Rush Limbaugh of the Left. As the downfall of Air America demonstrated, that didn't exactly work. Culturally speaking, American liberals generally don't like the kind of shouty, rageful talk radio that Rush Limbaugh exemplifies. Snark and sarcasm is more the preferred entertainment mode of American liberals, as the entire Jon Stewart school of late-night talk show comedy demonstrates. Just watch Alex Jones with the sound off. You can just tell he's a shouty, rageful right-wing guy without even listening to a single word he says.
posted by jonp72 at 5:26 PM on September 28 [20 favorites]


I remember the Air America radio network existed from 2004 to 2010. (Early 1990s?)
posted by Guy Smiley at 6:12 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


This is really just part of the current push for far-right people to try and get their voices heard by claiming censorship.

Well, sure, but can you even be a conservative without being an aggrieved whiny-ass simpering crybaby ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:21 PM on September 28

Funny you should ask that! I am old enough to remember conservatives who were NOT whiny - ass simpering crybabies. You have to actually be old though.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:14 PM on September 28 [10 favorites]


Getting arrested for speech is not the same as not being handed a platform. The right seems confused about this.
posted by tehgubner at 6:18 PM on September 28 [21 favorites]


Happy Holidays, Brad!
posted by TedW at 6:46 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


Speaking as a working comedian: The premise of this article is flawed, not least because the author for some reason chose only to interview unsuccessful comedians, instead of the many successful conservative comedians (Adam Carolla, Kevin James, Tim Allen, Steve Harvey, South Park [arguably], Nick DiPaolo, the list goes on...) who actually exist and are on television. He also substantially underrates the power and reach of talk radio; many of the shows on conservative talk radio are comedy. It just so happens that liberal comedians tend to be on cable at 11pm, and conservative comedians tend to be on the radio.
posted by tweebiscuit at 6:53 PM on September 28 [17 favorites]


For instance, I busted a gut watching Armin Shimerman on Regis & Kathy Lee in a recent thread, and he's all about Libertarianism...

Uhh... I think maybe this is a mistaken attribution? Armin Shimerman, who played Quark on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? Armin Shimerman, self-proclaimed devout union member and, I believe, officeholder in the Screen Actors' Guild..? I just checked his Twitter and it seems to be full of criticisms of Trump/Republicans, pleas to protect ACA, donate to hurricane relief, etc. I really don't think he's all about Libertarianism.
posted by Slothrop at 7:00 PM on September 28 [14 favorites]


South Park is right wing, but it is primarily focused on being funny. The problem with much avowedly "right wing" comedy is that it tends to be not primarily comedy, but primarily politics.

BINGO.

I've seen this kind of thing again and again from self-described "Conservatives" - not just in comedy, but in lots of other things. Time and again they will put themselves forward as "the Conservative [blah]", because there is one or more popular [blahs] who happen to have a liberal slant and they declare that they need to offer an alternative. The biggest example I can think of is actually an ice cream company, Star Spangled Ice Cream; its creators formed the business because they were unhappy with Ben and Jerry's donating a portion of its profits to what they considered to be "liberal causes." They made Star Spangled Ice Cream so there could be a premium ice cream brand that donated part of the profit to the military. Period.

The thing is, though, Ben and Jerry didn't start their company as, like, a bake sale or fundraiser. They started it to make a living. They just got to be really, really good at making ice cream over the past few decades and have decided to give something back to the community; but their first priority has always been making good ice cream. But with Star Spangled Ice Cream, it was wearing its politics on its sleeve - "we're the CONSERVATIVE ice cream! Nyah!" And....well, if you want to sell ice cream, how your ice cream tastes is the most important bit, not where you're using your profits. And - you'll note that Star Spangled Ice Cream has folded, while Ben and Jerry are still going strong.

If you are right-wing and want to be a successful comedian (or ice cream maker or actor or writer or what have you), then focus on how to be good at what you want to DO, not your politics. As soon as you make "comedian" the second half of your title, then you demote it to the second priority in your self-identity- and it will suffer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:02 PM on September 28 [41 favorites]


Armin Shimerman also was in the Atlas Shrugged, Part I, when they had a budget and could afford him.
posted by anem0ne at 7:02 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


From what I can recall, though, I had thought that Armin Shimerman was more on the liberal side? He started the Trek Against Trump thing.
posted by anem0ne at 7:05 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]


I'm glad that a garbage brand of ice cream exists to stop bad people getting the good stuff.
posted by Artw at 7:07 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


The funniest editorial cartoonist I know of is proudly conservative; Mallard Fillmore will always suck, though.
posted by TedW at 7:07 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


Culturally speaking, American liberals generally don't like the kind of shouty, rageful talk radio that Rush Limbaugh exemplifies.

But have we really *tried* without having cloned Lewis Black?
posted by Jpfed at 7:10 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


it's kind of hard to be funny when all of your lines come out of Chick tracts.

My brother-in-law, a pastor at an evangelical church who fancies himself as a "funny guy", once told a joke that hinged on the fact that you had to believe that world was only 6000 years old. If you didn't buy into that "fact" the joke made no sense. It wasn't funny either way.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:23 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


There were some samizdat anti-Soviet jokes which were pretty funny and could be considered conservative/right-wing. As you might expect, they punched up.
posted by clawsoon at 7:32 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I'd always assumed that Shimerman was in ASPI because a job's a job.

Also, another person you can add to the conservative comedy roll-call is David Zucker, who went from Airplane! and the Naked Gun movies to the diminishing-returns Scary Movie franchise to An American Carol, a movie starring Chris Farley's less-talented brother as a Michael Moore expy who turns conservative after being visited by the ghosts of various dead white men, which kind of shows you how desperately Zucker and his buddies want someone like Moore to flip to their side.

Also too, I've got a new rule about someone unironically claiming to be "the next Lenny Bruce." I'll let you guess what it is.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:37 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


That's funny but only in the laughing at not laughing with way.

I just mean that in front of a sufficiently right-wing audience they are perfectly capable of framing themselves as "punching up."
posted by atoxyl at 8:04 PM on September 28


No doubt this is evidently why every Hollywood conservative martyrishly insists on being referred to as "one of Hollywood's few outspoken conservatives": yes, yes, there are so few of you, Clint Eastwood and Scott Baio and Tim Allen and Patricia Heaton and Gary Sinise and John Malkovich and Jeff Dunham and Angie Harmon and Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak and Chuck Norris and Craig T. Nelson and Jon Voight and Dennis Miller and James Woods and Michael Medved and Jeff Foxworthy and Sly Stallone and Caitlyn Jenner and Drew Carey and Kirk Cameron and Tom Selleck and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Sorbo and James Caan and Kurt Russell and David Mamet and Melissa Joan Hart and Rob Schneider and Vince Vaughn and Bruce Willis and Rick Schroeder and Stephen Baldwin and Jerry Bruckheimer and Stacy Dash and Gene Simmons, and you are all so quiet.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 4:53 PM on September 28 [35 favorites +] [!]


I was aware that some of these celebrities were "conservative" but not all of them...some of these names make me sad, to be honest. But then, "conservative" is a spectrum and can mean a great many things. David Mamet, though? Et tu, Alex Trebek?

I think one of the most relevant points I've heard is that humor that "punches up" is generally a lot funnier and more enjoyable to most people than humor that "punches down," which usually reads as more mean than funny.

Speaking of adolescence: remember when Dennis Miller used to be funny?

I was an adolescent the last time I thought so. I had "The Off White Album" and I thought it was huh-larious when I was, say, 15. I had Carlin's "What Am I Doing In New Jersey?" around the same time, which I liked a lot more, and has definitely aged better than Miler's schtick. Still, I chuckled at the beginning of the OW album just now. I can see why I liked it at that age--he's such a show off with his references to film, literature, pop culture. Just like I was as a snotty teenager (and probably still am to some degree). I thought it was really brilliant back then but it's hard not to admit that it is pretty self-indulgent, bordering on obnoxious. However, compared with the idiocy he's been spouting since 9/11, it's comedy gold. The writing was on the wall even then, though. He felt compelled to do a piece about his hatred of Islamic terrorists (a bold stance!), and he clearly emerges as an "eye for an eye" kind of dude. Too bad. Now he's just batshit insane.
posted by apis mellifera at 8:39 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


Top Gear is an example of a show that was funny with a conservative bias. It was also extremely mean spirited. I disagreed with most of what they said, but still laughed.

I am a bad person. But you already know that.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:57 PM on September 28 [11 favorites]


I saw Jim Gaffigan this summer. Both he and his opener did a few jokes mocking Trump, which were immediately explained by the woman behind us to be not funny, true, or good in any way. Then he did a hacky joke comparing liberals to babies, which got an applause break. I was disappointed that Gaffigan would tell such a joke - the punchline was telegraphed a mile off and just meh - until he tagged it with 'everyone clapping right now voted for Trump' and oh shit did those people stop clapping and it was great.

Anyway, I'm 100% certain he chose to close with 'Hot Pockets' because the big response to his hack anti-liberal joke suggested an audience full of people who like jokes most when they already know the punchline.
posted by palindromic at 9:01 PM on September 28 [39 favorites]


The best thing Nick di Paolo ever did for comedy was bang on Mitch Hedberg's wall to get him to turn down his music.
posted by palindromic at 9:03 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


Well, sure, but can you even be a conservative without being an aggrieved whiny-ass simpering crybaby ?

Curiously enough, this is the same accusation that conservatives make of liberals.

From this I deduce that the definition of a crybaby is someone who complains about something you don't care about.
posted by storybored at 9:05 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]


I always just figured it was that humor comes from subversion of expectations. We laugh when something is twisted away from what we expected to hear or see. Conservatives, though? They don't like subversion, they like consistency.

It's harder for someone with a conservative mindset to become a humorist. Not impossible, but definitely working from a disadvantage.
posted by explosion at 9:36 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]


All I have to say to this dude is: "The market decided. It said no."
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:48 PM on September 28 [14 favorites]


Maybe he needs to try more of Rodney Dangerfield schtick:
I tell ya, I can't not get respect. I kneeled during the national anthem at an NFL game last week. I immediately got signed by the Mets' AA club.

I once pitched a comedy special to Showtime. You know what one of the execs said to me. Honest to God, she said, "This would probably be the highest-rated show in our history, maybe in American history. But we’re not going to do it." Why, I asked. She loosed the bun in her hair, flicked open the top button of her blouse, undressed me with her eyes, and said: "Because Brad, it would hurt our brand. We'd have to rename the L-Word the D-Word. Because that's what every L in America would be begging for after seeing your routine."

Too much respect.
posted by bunbury at 9:53 PM on September 28 [7 favorites]




But if you gave me a television show tomorrow, stocked the audience with conservatives, and gave me 20 writers from Harvard, Yale and Brown, I’d be a genius too.

This hits the nail right on the head. Good luck finding 20 conservative writers who graduated from Harvard, Yale, and Brown in the last 50 years!
posted by epimorph at 10:34 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Is Norm McDonald conservative? He's pretty f***ing funny.
posted by philip-random at 12:06 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's built in that there isn't right wing comedy. As others have said the US radio talk show circuit and UK standup pre-alternative comedy were very right wing. Big Bang Theory and Mrs Brown's Boys get huge ratings (OK they are not explicitly right wing but just awful and oppressive). I think it might be something more specific about the late night US comedy show audience. Once everyone perceives these shows as generally left wing I imagine it's hard to build another audience.

And others have said there is a vast difference between "actual government censorship where people are imprisoned for their political views" and "I demand people listen to my political views, invite me to speak, give me a platform otherwise it's censorship."

What especially bugs me about the later group is it tends to that their views are....incredibly boring and predictable.

If you really want to say something controversial say something new and interesting that many people don't believe. But from the "free speech" brigade it just ends up being something like "woman can't do logic or computers." Which is shitty but also as old as civilization and not really adding anything interesting or well argued. Invariably when people of colour, woman or trans people do put out nuanced views on oppression (etc) the same brigade comes out screaming how it is racist (etc) and they should be fired.
posted by Erberus at 3:09 AM on September 29 [7 favorites]


The Nick DiPaolo mentions are making me remember how much I used to enjoy Tough Crowd. I think that show was terrific. All comedians on the panel every time, and it gave voice to both liberal and conservative ideas. (R.I.P. Greg Giraldo & Patrice O'Neal)
posted by heatvision at 3:19 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


“It’s a stacked deck,” Stine says defiantly. “But if you gave me a television show tomorrow, stocked the audience with conservatives, and gave me 20 writers from Harvard, Yale and Brown, I’d be a genius too.”

These fucking people. Ellen DeGeneres, Jon Stewart, and Chris Rock busted their asses to get where they are. Of course this guy thinks he should just be handed what they have.
posted by um at 5:16 AM on September 29 [25 favorites]


I like this comedic timing:

his big thing was about "wussiness", and the focus on it sounded awful... toxic.
Andrewpcone -
He's saying you should have the courage of your convictions. A lefty bumper sticker version of the same point is "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." I don't think that is toxic at all.


self-reflection, self-deprecation
ArtW - Conservatives are inherently incapable of either of those.

Andrepcone - That is mean-spirited and blatantly false. Generalized character attacks on "conservatives" are boring and unlikely to do any good.

But, isn't ArtW showing courage in his convictions? Not being wussy? Making bold, unequivocal statements?

In defense of 'wussiness':

Andrewpcone has hit on something that is a great human failing. Many people 'respect' a strong sounding point of view, hence the Trump disaster. For many reasons that I shall not go into now, simple, polarising, statements are seductive. Life is not that simple, people who make bold, unequivocal statements are exhibiting a rigid world view which is going to be wrong in some fundamental way. Simple, polarising, statements are easier to digest, but they are not sustaining and can be toxic. I find people who habitually make them generally have some toxic aspect to themselves. It's intoxicating to be exposed to such certainty, but it is a false promise.

It's unscientific. One of the problems with the public understanding of global climate change is that scientists use language that, while scientifically correct, is seen as 'wussy'.

In times of crisis we gravitate toward those who exhibit certainty, but those same people create the crises. Dunning-Kruger in effect. Funnily enough, wussiness is a luxury that we need to afford.

No disrespect to ArtW intended, I am in agreement with you in this thread.
posted by asok at 5:25 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


Germany, 1930ish, Berlin cabaret, smokey and dark, half-filled with declasse residents of the demimonde, an aspiring young standup comedian takes the stage, nervous but hopeful, named Adolph Hitler. "Take the Jews .... please!"
posted by Chitownfats at 5:35 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


Because you're a right-wing bead-jiggling fuckdod who's about as funny as a kick in the nads?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:03 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


Is Norm McDonald conservative? He's pretty f***ing funny.

Norm is conservative if you equate conservative to "doesn't bow down to the politically correct leftist Hollywood overlords" and stop there.

Which is hardly unique to conservatives in the comedy world. In fact, it's all over the place. The difference is that a conservative justice warrior says it TO STRIKE A MIGHTY BLOW AGAINST THE PC LEFT and expects applause for that; a comedian uses it as a tool in his/her arsenal to be FUNNY. Big difference.
posted by delfin at 6:40 AM on September 29 [5 favorites]


I think it was Ted Rall who said something along the lines of, "well, if you can make a living beating up on poor people, more power to you, I guess."

Classical conservative philosophy has been, "traditional social order is more virtuous and these upstarts should know their place." The humor that comes from this is usually a joke about someone trying to get above their station and making some kind of ignorant faux pas, humiliating him or herself. The more middle class version of this was 20th century ethnic insult humor.

The modern conservative philosophy is "I am not doing nearly as well as I deserve to because Those People who are poorer than I am are taking it from me." It's both class insults and dripping with personal grievance at the same time, and that's not funny. Sure, "I hate my life and require an outlet to mock those below me who I blame" is a form of humor, but not a popular one.

Back in the late 80s/early 90s, I saw some standup on TV by conservative Tim Allen, before he got his show Home Improvement. I'm not saying it was the most humorous thing ever, but it was funny, because even though the humor had conservative tropes ("Men Are Pigs!"), it wasn't a nonstop rant of conservative grievance, which is literally the format of his now-canceled show Last Man Standing.
posted by deanc at 6:55 AM on September 29 [7 favorites]


Part of the problem, I think is that as "right-wing" has come to be more and more identified with authoritarian politics, it's also becoming inherently incompatible with humor. George Orwell made that point:
The goose-step, for instance, is one of the most horrible sights in the world, far more terrifying than a dive-bomber. It is simply an affirmation of naked power; contained in it, quite consciously and intentionally, is the vision of a boot crashing down on a face. Its ugliness is part of its essence, for what it is saying is ‘Yes, I am ugly, and you daren't laugh at me’, like the bully who makes faces at his victim. Why is the goose-step not used in England? There are, heaven knows, plenty of army officers who would be only too glad to introduce some such thing. It is not used because the people in the street would laugh. Beyond a certain point, military display is only possible in countries where the common people dare not laugh at the army.
Laughing at the powerless, along the lines of a Trump rally, is a very different dynamic. It's a tribal performance, and doesn't work if the audience isn't limited to the tribe.
posted by Zonker at 7:00 AM on September 29 [19 favorites]


Top Gear is an example of a show that was funny with a conservative bias. It was also extremely mean spirited. I disagreed with most of what they said, but still laughed.

I'll see you your "Top Gear is my secret guilty conservative-leaning comedy tickle" and raise you the work of P.J. O'Rourke.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 AM on September 29 [11 favorites]


And I submit as my defense: P. J. O'Rourke interviewing Hunter S. Thompson, and midway through they both start to free-associate over whether it was legal or ethical to say that Ed Meese should be rogered by an elk.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on September 29 [4 favorites]


There were some samizdat anti-Soviet jokes which were pretty funny and could be considered conservative/right-wing. As you might expect, they punched up.

Oh, this reminds me of one from the 80s:

A Soviet and an American are talking about how great their respective countries are. The American says, "we are great because we are free! I can walk up to the White House and yell, 'Ronald Reagan is an idiot!' and no one even bothers me, much less arrests me. Can you do anything like that in front of the Kremlin?"

The Soviet guy replies, "of course! Any time I want, I can walk right up in front of the Kremlin and yell, 'Ronald Reagan is an idiot!'"

Also, women, in general, are different than me, a man. I would like someone to take my wife. Amirite, fellas?
posted by deanc at 7:09 AM on September 29 [5 favorites]


and raise you the work of P.J. O'Rourke.

PJO identifies himself as conservative as part of his shtick, but in practice he's more of an independent who makes wisecracks about everyone and sometimes leans right. Those times that he leans to the right, he's not as funny.
posted by ovvl at 7:55 AM on September 29


Honestly, the best "conservative" comedy - if by 'conservative' we mean their insular I-hate-Political-Correctness-amirite - is the feminist bookstore from Portlandia. And lots of other stuff from Portlandia.

(yes, shitty transphobic stuff and fred armisen is a toolbox, but it still, somehow, manages to be funny.)
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:00 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


I think humor needs to oppose power to be funny to a wide audience because power indulges in hypocrisy to maintain itself and hypocrisy is intellectually abusive and not funny.

You can mock the little old church lady because her views represent the power of society's stereotypes. You can mock political correctness because it too represents power. In fact, it's hard to make non-ironic religious or political correct comedy that appeals to a wide audience.

It's easy to make good comedy that mocks taxation, assume you make fun of Warren Buffet paying less than his employees, rich people exploiting tax havens, etc. Ain't so easy if you want your joke to insinuate that rich people should pay less. It's also easy to mock government spending, especially the targets are real centers of corruption and graft, like the military. Right-wing libertarians can mock the drug war easily enough.

There are plenty of conservative causes for which you can construct funny jokes, but politically active conservatives do not tell those jokes for the same reason they never reduce aggregate taxation or government spending : They are hypocrites!

They do not believe in reducing government spending. They believe in routing it into their pockets. They do not believe in breaking the mind guards that empower political correctness. They believe in restoring those mind guards to protecting abusive power structures like religion instead.

I'm not saying all conservatives are hypocrites all the time, but jokes that align with power will be hypocrisy and thus not funny.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:06 AM on September 29 [4 favorites]


and gave me 20 writers from Harvard, Yale and Brown

Ah yes, known comedy factories all


Harvard Lampoon is quite famous for its humor & counts several accomplished comedians among its alumni including Conan O'Brien, SNL's Colin Jost & BJ Novak from the Office.
posted by scalefree at 8:42 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


from article: “I’m used to being made fun of as a Christian and a conservative,” [Brad Stine] says, adding that critics of his, many of whom he considers a part of the “leftist” media apparatus, are more likely to call him unfunny than they are to attack his politics. “It’s McCarthyism lived out in real time, because when Chris Rock does the same thing I do, it’s called social commentary.”

Er – maybe it's just me, but I don't really think of Chris Rock as particularly... left-wing? He certainly isn't "liberal" in a way that you'd call Jon Stewart liberal. I don't think you can even call him political, really, except in the broad sense that comedians are. I specifically remember multiple situations where he's talked about how Democrats are complete idiots too, and no party really represents what people want or who they are. Maybe I just don't know Chris Rock as well as some people, but I'd guess he'd reject characterizations as "liberal" or "left-wing."

So, uh... when you say "McCarthyism," and suggest that it's not fair that Chris Rock gets plaudits while you don't, that there's some bias people have that makes them more receptive to Rock than to you, it's... it's not politics you're talking about, is it?
posted by koeselitz at 8:54 AM on September 29 [5 favorites]


Some people on the right view the world in very Manichean terms. Either you are conservative or you are its direct opposite, a card-carrying bleeding heart pinko liberal. Either you are Christian or you love and worship Satan. Either you fully support a chosen authority or you are a dangerous radical. Either you do precisely what they want or you are not a Real Republican and might as well tongue-kiss Nancy Pelosi.

So, yes, to them Chris Rock is a liberal archetype because he isn't One Of Us and everyone else is One Of THEM. The idea of there being gray areas and middle ground zooms right past their worldview.
posted by delfin at 9:14 AM on September 29 [5 favorites]


20 writers from Harvard, Yale and Brown

comedy rule of threes FAIL
posted by sapere aude at 9:14 AM on September 29 [4 favorites]


Those times that he leans to the right, he's not as funny.

Pretty much true of all "both-sister" comedians - see Tina Fay.
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on September 29


delfin: “Some people on the right view the world in very Manichean terms. Either you are conservative or you are its direct opposite, a card-carrying bleeding heart pinko liberal. Either you are Christian or you love and worship Satan. Either you fully support a chosen authority or you are a dangerous radical. Either you do precisely what they want or you are not a Real Republican and might as well tongue-kiss Nancy Pelosi. ¶ So, yes, to them Chris Rock is a liberal archetype because he isn't One Of Us and everyone else is One Of THEM. The idea of there being gray areas and middle ground zooms right past their worldview.”

Indeed. I'm about two-thirds of the way through this Brad Stine set, and at 16:35 he gives this brief statement of what he does:
I've had lots of fun, three albums and now number four, making fun of people that are atheists and secular humanists, and [*gestures wildly*] far left-leanin' people, I make fun of 'em. You know why? Because you all deserve to have a comic, too.
He goes on to say that he's going to make fun of Christians, too – that means, apparently, that he thinks Christians are too afraid of bodily functions, I guess? – but this is a striking conception of what comedy is supposed to do. He says at another point [9:29] that he's never used curse words in his comedy because he believes "creativity is funnier than crude," but apparently the humor of creativity, while it isn't crude, is specifically meant to mock people and tear them down. And he believes, apparently, that comedians are already always doing this – that most comedians, the ones who are allowed to be successful, are liberals who spend all of their time mocking Christians and Christian beliefs – so the only way to be fair is to have a Christian comedian mocking non-Christians.

Which strikes me as an egregious misunderstanding of what comedy is and what it's for. Comedy should disrupt our ways of thinking, sure; but if there are comedians whose whole act consists of them flatly mocking Christians and Christian ways of thinking, I am not aware of them. That's not likely to be very funny, and if a comedian was simply standing on stage and making fun of Christianity – or, hell, anybody – nothing but flat mockery, it'd be... boring, right? Comedians that succeed – comedians that are worthwhile and funny in a meaningful way – are comedians that do a lot more than that. Good lord, if Stine thinks is competition is George Carlin, wait until he hears what he had to say about the political correctness that Stine spends most of his act limply whining about.
posted by koeselitz at 9:50 AM on September 29 [8 favorites]


(Furthermore, maybe it's because I'm a Catholic who was raised Protestant, or maybe it's because I just finished binging The Exorcist, but – a broad swath of Stine's material seems sort of... infernal to me. One of his longest bits is about how Christians should be allowed to use curse words, because Christ used strong language sometimes, and therefore if we don't do it we're saying he was a sinner. At another point he says he's a Christian because "it's great - the only thing you have to do is believe in God" – which... that's egregiously false, right? These are the kinds of arguments that demons always make in old folk tales. If anything Mr Stine seems intent on completely subverting Christianity. Or maybe I'm just trying too hard to try to make this stuff interesting for myself.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:54 AM on September 29 [10 favorites]


Norm is conservative if you equate conservative to "doesn't bow down to the politically correct leftist Hollywood overlords" and stop there.

Which is hardly unique to conservatives in the comedy world. In fact, it's all over the place. The difference is that a conservative justice warrior says it TO STRIKE A MIGHTY BLOW AGAINST THE PC LEFT and expects applause for that;


I agree, and well put. I like the conservative justice warrior (CJW) phrasing, because I'm guessing that's what most of us in this thread are finding annoying to the point of vomit inducing.

And I'm pretty sure Norm agrees.
posted by philip-random at 9:55 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


– I mean Brad Stine's main point in this comedy special is LITERALLY that words can never be evil because they're manmade and arbitrary, that we shouldn't hesitate to use words because they are only words, the things of man are all one and interchangeable and we should feel free to indulge ourselves in all of them, and he's like a skip and a jump from saying "indeed, there is nothing bad or good but thinking makes it so, good and evil are a lie, woulds thou like to live deliciously?"
posted by koeselitz at 10:03 AM on September 29 [8 favorites]


Other notable white male Christians who are no doubt blacklisted from late night TV include Stephen Colbert.
posted by Artw at 10:07 AM on September 29 [7 favorites]


Yeah, but Colbert is liberal and Catholic, so for some of those people making that argument, he doesn't count as a Christian or a male.

I tried watching Stine again and really, he's just coming across as a shittier, knock-off dollar store clone of an unfunny Denis Leary. Who also happens to be a center-right lapsed Catholic. But he has comedic timing in his rants, which can occasionally be not annoying.
posted by anem0ne at 10:11 AM on September 29 [5 favorites]


I've seen a Ricky Gervais routine that consists entirely of him making fun of the Bible and honestly, no, it was not very funny.
posted by bq at 10:15 AM on September 29 [9 favorites]


Which strikes me as an egregious misunderstanding of what comedy is and what it's for.

I admit I like these instances of reading about conservative comedians or conservative attempts to imitate popular liberal comedy shows because they force me to think about humor and why I find things funny and why certain things don't seem humorous to me. I think the punch up/punch down dichotomy is a significant difference.

But there is also a very real difference in humor styles, some of which gets a public airing, and some of which doesn't. Empty namecalling doesn't really have much public currency in commercial comedy, even though as Rush and Trump demonstrate, it is popular with their audiences. (By contrast, SNL never calls Trump by some kind of degrading nickname or pun off his name). "I-am-angry-about-this-thing -and-I-will-respond in a vulgar way you the audience wish you could but can't" seems popular with conservative humorists and is presented in a straightforward way. On the other hand, liberal examples of this, while less common, are dressed up in such a way you don't know it's happening until it's over: e.g., Trump on SNL threatening the president of Zimbabwe played by Kenan Thompson who replies with (paraphrasing), "don't threaten me. You can't even walk down stairs you white bitch!"

It might be about the portrayal of the "everyman" that the audience is supposed to empathize with in a humor routine. For conservatives, that Everyman is invariably a jerk.

– I mean Brad Stine's main point in this comedy special is LITERALLY that words can never be evil because they're manmade and arbitrary, that we shouldn't hesitate to use words because they are only words, the things of man are all one and interchangeable and we should feel free to indulge ourselves in all of them

To paraphrase James Galbraith, "The modern conservative humorist is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in comedy; that is, the search for an excuse to be an asshole."
posted by deanc at 10:21 AM on September 29 [9 favorites]


Oh god, and this:

There was another Jesus that we don't get taught, that turned tables over and took a whip to people – and you know what, if you do that in the United States, you know what they call it? Assault and battery. You laugh, but if I take a whip to you, my brother, you can arrest me. Wouldn't you think that would be a sin – to swing a whip at somebody? But either Jesus isn't God, or – sin isn't always what we think it is.


And then he just dances away from the fact that he just said assault and battery is not a sin because Jesus did it, so we can too. Laws against literally whipping people are just political correctness! Sin is a lie! Do what you wish! Whatever God that exists does not care if you whip people, so go ahead.

Sorry, I know this is a side-topic, but I cannot get over how theologically (and morally) problematic this guy who's supposed to be "Christian" comedian is. I guess this is just the same as the general problem with evangelicals in America today: once you get past the fact that they're total assholes, you have to contend with the fact that they're also hypocrites.
posted by koeselitz at 10:23 AM on September 29 [16 favorites]


I guess this is just the same as the general problem with evangelicals in America today: once you get past the fact that they're total assholes, you have to contend with the fact that they're also hypocrites.

It's a sidebar, yes, but as someone raised Catholic the whole thing about being good is faith and works, right? It's an ongoing, constant effort, hence the sacraments like Reconciliation. In practice, it seems like with Evangelicals, it's a once-saved and reborn in salvation, you're good and a-ok; it's binary, and all you need is faith.

posted by anem0ne at 10:29 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Another popular conservative joke which is popular among conservatives but doesn't seem to have much commercial appeal is, "this story is not true but I wish it was (and maybe I fooled you into believing it)." Which is why you always get those email forwards about Obama starting a communist coup but being told "it's satire." Once again, you don't see a bunch of "George W Bush will start a theocratic dictatorship / Obama intervenes to help an orphan threatened by the KKK" email forwards excused by claiming its "humor" on the liberal side.

In a sense, this humor also suffers from the problem of conservative humor as a form of dominance or abuse: attempting to get other people to think something is real which backs up your beliefs.

I suppose the problem is that in commercially viable comedy, you cannot make an entire section of your audience your marks or targets of abuse, and this kind of conservative "satire" relies on having an audience to shove the story at, who themselves serve as the object of humor.
posted by deanc at 10:35 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


I particularly like the one where the decide to make something a white supremacist hand sign, it takes off as a white supremacist hand sign, people point this out and then it's an "ironic" white supremacist hand sign .

Never trust a right winger when they say something is ironic.
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on September 29 [4 favorites]


My guess is that what Stine is complaining about is that he can't say the things about black people that Rock can; for example the Chris Rock "I take care of my kids" bit would be (rightfully) criticized as racist as hell from Stine. But of course that's not actually a left/right issue; it's that Rock is addressing a group he includes himself in, while an outsider would be using it as a tool of destruction.
posted by tavella at 11:03 AM on September 29 [4 favorites]


My guess is that what Stine is complaining about is that he can't say the things about black people that Rock can;

...which goes back to my original comment,
What a lot of conservatives consider "comedy" often comes across more as rank bigotry, toxic masculinity, dickishness.

I wouldn't say that there aren't funny conservative comedians in theory."

But the audience they cater to often really does love it when someone gets to be as bigoted as they want to be. Hence, like what other people have said, the "satirical" "joke" emails that are blatantly racist, sexist, or homo-/trans-phobic. The comedians like Stine who complain that they're being restricted by "political correctness" want likely want to say those horrible, bigoted things, because they know their audiences would fucking love to hear someone say it, and then they can just repeat those "jokes"--see what happened in the wake of Chris Rock's jokes about the difference between Black people, or Louis CK's jokes about the f* slur, and that wasn't just with the "liberal" folk.

The audience they cater to love it when someone normalizes hate. Look at what Trump did.
posted by anem0ne at 11:14 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


Er – maybe it's just me, but I don't really think of Chris Rock as particularly... left-wing?

Chris Rock seems libertarian-ish? But when these guys talk about a dearth of conservative comics they generally mean "socially conservative" (not that I think this is even strictly true).
posted by atoxyl at 11:25 AM on September 29


And then he just dances away from the fact that he just said assault and battery is not a sin because Jesus did it, so we can too. Laws against literally whipping people are just political correctness! Sin is a lie! Do what you wish! Whatever God that exists does not care if you whip people, so go ahead.

What I hear is the lesson Kim Davis was the poster child for not getting: your religion is opt-in and not universal. You have certain rights and obligations as a human being and as an American, and yes, one of them is not to physically assault other people. Whether it is sin or not is irrelevant to the law. What you choose to believe in, what codes of religious behavior you follow, what alternative right-and-wrong scales you measure with are over and above the law, and where they conflict _the law wins_ in such matters.

Jesus didn't get locked up because (a) we don't live 2000 years ago in Nazareth and (b) his biographers wrote the surviving account of the incident. It's good to have a solid PR team.

Now, maybe he is being somewhat thoughtful here, actually poking at the spaces between religion and law. I haven't watched that clip. But many will take the opposite from it -- that breaking the law in the name of imposing your religion IS justified.
posted by delfin at 11:31 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


Trump effectively moved the overton window. Also in recent news Owen Benjamin, another comedian, got a gig cancelled seemingly due to his views on children taking hormone blockers.
posted by whorl at 11:35 AM on September 29


To catch everyone up on the Owen Benjamin situation, at least from the MeFi angle...
posted by anem0ne at 11:45 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


There was another Jesus that we don't get taught, that turned tables over and took a whip to people – and you know what, if you do that in the United States, you know what they call it? Assault and battery. You laugh, but if I take a whip to you, my brother, you can arrest me.

Stine conveniently overlooks the fact that it's only assault and battery if you take a whip to a person; I believe that Jesus was only attacking things in that instance to which Stine refers. Stine also is conveniently overlooking that the reason that Jesus was going into a rage was because there were money changers doing business right in the middle of the Temple, and mixing business with religion was a bad thing.

I find it really telling that Stine didn't mention that...But what do I know, I mean, i'm neither a theologian, a Conservative or a comedian. I am just a person who's read a Bible.

...

That got all serious, I'mma lighten the room a bit -

I'm trying to find where someone upthread talked about the relying on catchphrases being a Thing. Several years ago, a roommate and I were chillling at home - she was channel-surfing on TV and I was puttering in the kitchen. At some point she landed on Comedy Central, just in time to catch the "coming up next" ad about a Larry The Cable Guy special. She put down the remote and muttered something about watching it - and I gave her a look. "Oh, I'm not going to watch the whole thing," she said. "I just want to see how long he can go before he gives in and says 'Git 'er done'."

A couple minutes later, the show started (I think the credits showed a cartoon of Larry and a bear sitting on toilets, for some reason). The show opened the way a lot of comedy shows do - a camera following Larry as he walked from the dressing room, down the hall to the theater itself, and thorugh the wings and out to the audience, where the crowd then burst into cheers and applause. He spent a few seconds waving at the crowd as they cheered. Then, as the crowd started to wind down, he picked up the mike.

And - no exagerration - the very first thing he said was "Git 'er duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!"

"And there we go," said my roommate, picking the remote back up and changing the channel.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:49 AM on September 29 [11 favorites]


And further on Owen Benjamin, where it's clear his fans are also into the alt-Right assholes Steven Crowder and Gavin McInnes, where this story broke first on Breitbart...

This is the video that's causing the controversy, which is pretty much predicated on completely misunderstanding Trans individuals; the part really begins at 2:25.
posted by anem0ne at 11:53 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Also, stepping back here, he talks about how we can't do certain things because we'd get arrested for them now. Unlike then, I guess. But, uh... it's been a while since I read the Bible, but I seem to recall that big part of the New Testament is Christians being punished by the legal system for upsetting the status quo. There was this one guy who was even crucified, if you can believe it.

But I guess doing something that you believe is right, no matter what anyone else thinks, and then dealing with the consequences would require having the courage of your convictions.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:53 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


I stopped watching the TV show @Midnight because I got sick of how conservative the guests were. They probably didn't think of themselves as conservatives, but sexist joke after sexist joke, with the occasional break for transphobia and a racist stereotype, sure sounds conservative to me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:55 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


Flipping over tables in the Temple got Jesus executed by the state in collaboration with religious conservatives, just sayin'.
posted by donatella at 11:58 AM on September 29 [6 favorites]


MeTa
posted by nickmark at 12:36 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]


It just so happens the Republican party has shifted in a nihilist direction.

Oh good. See Donny? Nothing to be afraid of.
posted by hal9k at 1:43 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


There was another Jesus that we don't get taught, that turned tables over and took a whip to people – and you know what, if you do that in the United States, you know what they call it? Assault and battery. You laugh, but if I take a whip to you, my brother, you can arrest me. Wouldn't you think that would be a sin – to swing a whip at somebody? But either Jesus isn't God, or – sin isn't always what we think it is.

That is both horrible and great comedy. Horrible for obvious reasons. Great for the right audience (not a Metafilter audience, but a law-and-order audience): It takes the audience to the edge of their comfort zone, and then pushes them a little bit over. It gets them thinking, "Well... maybe... you know, he has a point... those limousine liberals do deserve a beating... a Jesus-like beating... maybe that would be okay."

Like I said, horrible for obvious reasons. It's comedy that pushes the fascist envelope. If you don't lean fascist, it's merely disgusting; if you do, it worms into your brain like all great comedy does.
posted by clawsoon at 2:29 PM on September 29 [4 favorites]


I don't think that he thinks that Chris Rock is a right-winger, I think it is more of that obnoxious "He gets to say the N word and I don't!" double-inverse casuistry moronism that these guys specialize in.
posted by Chitownfats at 3:05 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Because they aren't funny. Conservatism isn't funny. Not by itself.
posted by Area Control at 3:29 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


There is something funny about trying to paint the Biblical Jesus as a Fascist. To do so requires narrative and logical contortions that are almost laughing-out-loud silly.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:32 PM on September 29 [3 favorites]


Jesus was a Peacemaker
posted by philip-random at 12:04 AM on September 30


The key to being a successful conservative comedian is neither punching up or down—you've got to punch sideways. Punch yourself, and your cohort. Tim Allen's barking persona is a good example. The mockery was reserved for his love of power tools, and since it felt sincere, the audience (the white male part of it, which is all that matters for conservatives) bought it, laughed, and didn't feel attacked.

Power tool gags aren't political per se, but it's possible to create a successful comedic persona that can include a lot of overtly conservative/political material amid the duck hunting and NASCAR jokes.

When you've got material that does require punching down, aim it at your persona's friends and relations. It's ok to josh around with family, just be sure to let them and the audience know that you kid from love. And frustration. Al Bundy-style. Sit on your porcelain throne and make us feel for you, like you, laugh with you.

But you've got to be really serious about being transgressive when you do your political material. You've got to punch up at your own leaders and heroes. You've got the conservative's natural worship of power, authority and violence to work with, and against. Use that as your joke fulcrum. Simultaneously cutting and fawning.

Do a bit about drinking beer with Jesus, and going down to the temple to fuck some shit up, because that's His money bitches, and He has got to get paid. After, you're rolling a fattie with Jesus and talking about the universe and shit, just looking up at the stars, and He turns and says, you know, I am going to forgive those guys we showed today. And give the money back. And what can you say to that? "I'm going to take Your name in vain now a few dozen times, ok?"

Or that one where your daughter made a Klan hood in Home Ec, and it's like, how do you tell your girl you're so proud but um yeah, we are not actually part of the Klan, and she says what about Uncle Larry, and you're like, well ok, but, and she goes, and Grandpa, and you're all "leave the grand high wizard out of this"
posted by bigbigdog at 12:20 AM on September 30 [8 favorites]


The challenge with "conservative" humor is that it is rarely all that great because it literally comes from "get off my lawn" belief. While liberals joke about people who are all "get off my lawn", conservative humorists actually *believe* it. Whether it's slightly racist, slightly homophobic, slightly anti-liberal, anti-snowflake, anti-woman, anti-whatever, it's not actually all that funny because deep down everyone knows this guy actually believes what he's "joking" about.

And here's even more... the best comedians who do humor on the "conservative" list aren't conservatives, like Daniel Tosh. They do it better than anybody who actually believes that stuff. Tosh does racist and misogynist jokes that make people of color laugh and women love him. Because deep down people know he doesn't actually believe it... and that's what makes humor like that so good. It's an exaggeration. Compare this with conservatives who actually *believe* in what they joke about. And that's just creepy.

Someone mentioned Tim Allen. He's an entertainer. He can be funny, but *none* of his humor is actually political. So you can't call his humor "conservative". It's apolitical most of the time.
posted by engelgrafik at 7:11 AM on September 30


Daniel Tosh. They do it better than anybody who actually believes that stuff. Tosh does racist and misogynist jokes that make people of color laugh and women love him.

I don't know that he doesn't mean it and I don't like him one bit.
posted by heatvision at 4:17 AM on October 1 [7 favorites]


Tosh does racist and misogynist jokes that make people of color laugh and women love him.

I think you'll find that women's opinions on Daniel Tosh are rather mixed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:19 AM on October 1 [8 favorites]


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