A question: Why aren't there popular conservative comedians?
It's a question that nagged me while watching the video sweeping the InterWebs today...
Stephen Colbert, a liberal playing a conservative, has plenty of material on a nightly basis, but conservative politicians aren't the only ones saying stupid things that are good for comedy.
This is a situation, actually, that has had some study. At this year's South by Southwest, one panel, moderated by Alf LaMont of LA's Comedy store, considered it:
Even while prepping for the panel it had become clear to me that the available resources for political humor were, by a huge margin, a ridiculously huge margin, leftist. My desire to be an evenhanded moderator was hindered by my lack of access to comedy or comedians who self-identified as right leaning. Regardless of how deep online I searched, there was little in the way of "Right-Wing comedy" that made any sort of mark on the political spectrum. Not in the enormous ways that Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart have been making waves, by tying satire to genuine political action. At best, right wing comedy seemed to be relegated to the notorious conservative radio talk show circuit, where pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter gently dip their toe into satire from time to time and Dennis Miller holds court as the sole comedian who will dive into conservative politics exclusively.
An academic to whom he turned, acknowledged there's not been scholarly research on the questions, though he theorized that the economics dictate that comedians appeal "to the downtrodden masses."
Comedian Stephen Kruiser, writing at Breitbart, didn't think that was all that funny.
The other part of the reality is this: most liberals in the entertainment industry expose themselves to conservatives about as readily as they would a leper colony. The only conservatives they know are politicians on TV and their great-uncle Cedrick. They assume we're all book-burning freaks who sit around comparing scowls on those rare occasions when we take breaks from THE WAR ON WOMEN.
The caricature conservatives they know in their heads couldn't possibly be funny, therefore none of them could ever really exist in the world of comedy.
Today, the BBC presented an interview with Alison Dagnes, author of A Conservative Walks Into A Bar: The Politics of Humour, who says comedy is anti-establishment, "and that is firmly in the liberals' wheelhouse."
"Conservatives are not funny. I'm being brutally objective here," comedian Dean Obeidallah, told CNN a few months ago, while refusing to say why "conservatives struggle so horribly when trying to be funny."
"To be a conservative comic you're going to poke fun at feminists and gays -- politically incorrect stuff -- but it is just too taboo these days," comedian Nick Di Paolo told the Daily Caller. For the last few years the media has just gotten so politically correct, and I mean it's not just the news. It is throughout the media. Just look at how white heterosexual men are portrayed as compared to women and minorities. And that is why I don't think you are ever going to see a conservative comic as famous as Jon Stewart on the right. As Colin Quinn says, 'it's so big it's not a conspiracy.'
Yes, women are portrayed so positively compared to heterosexual men in "mainstream" media. Consider the CNN story on how our hormones determine how we vote, but it was pulled, so nevermind.
I also believe that Colbert doesn't consider himself a liberal, but independent.
Stewart takes swipes at Dems as well. They just don't give him as much to work with.
Does no one remember the Blue Collar comedy tour or Larry the Cableguy? What about Dennis Miller's sharp turn to the right? These seem to be big omissions to me.
// What about Dennis Miller's sharp turn to the right? These seem to be big omissions to me.
I'm aware of Miller and my observation is that many of the conservative comedians introduced that element to their routines after they'd already achieved some stardom and, in many cases, were on the other side of mass media visibility.
There are definitely some libertarian humorists out there (P.J. O'Rourke is a good example), but for actual conservative comics, yeah, it is a shallow bench. I think the subversiveness answer is pretty good, and that could also explain why libertarian comics are more common than truly conservative ones.
While working, if I'm not listening to MPR, I'm usually listening to the Adam Carolla podcast. I've been thinking about this question recently, because in a lot of ways Adam has swung pretty hard right recently. I'm not sure if this is a natural evolution of his personal views, or if he sees a niche that he can occupy.
In fairness, Carolla admits that he did not pay attention in school and many of his political opinions are at the level one would expect with his academic training... but he's funny. And conservative.
PJ O'Rourke comes to mind as a funny conservative.
Remember when FOX had the Half hour News Hour"
They're pretty funny when they slip on a banana peel.
Anyone remember the "conservative comedy" film "An American Carol?" Not surprising if you don't -- that turkey left the screen in a hurry. It was said to cost $20 million and made $7 million worldwide.
Your premise seems to hinge on a belief that comedy is about making fun of others. That's true of a lot of comedy but it's hardly required. Many comedians make fun of situations, their own families, life's tribulations, etc.
But yes, mocking others is a big part of comedy and I think what you're getting at is the fact that most people only laugh when you pick on their betters. Our new conservatives think they're better than the rest of us, but you can't make a living mocking your inferiors.
What conservative comedians are really complaining about is the fact that their potential audience is much smaller. Working the Billionaire's Room at the Platinum Club won't put you in front of large crowds, but I've heard the tips are pretty good. I'd also bet that Dennis Miller gets invited to much swankier parties than Bobcat Goldthwaite.
There are also plenty of comedians whose material isn't political at all, or barely so. I can't remember ever hearing anything political in , say, Jim Gaffigan or Demetri Martin's routines. If anything, apoliticality seems to be the norm in comedy; political humor is a niche to begin with.
We're too busy making sure people don't think we have sex.
Michelle Bachmann is plenty funny, when she's not scary.