Friday, March 14, 2014

Are Conservatives Not Funny?

The Atlantic published an incisive piece on conservatives, comedy, the industry, and the market exploring why the right dominates the market in news, but not comedy.

Academics enjoy poking at "harmonized and slow" conservatism, claiming that it destroys the "conditions necessary" for comedy to flourish. In the 21st century, conservatives find themselves in the minority, or even outcast, roles in academia, media and elsewhere.  Great comedy always comes from the powerless jester who has nothing to lose by poking fun at the system.  Example, liberals and leftists could not possibly make a convincing Animal House type movie today.  What on earth could they make fun of besides themselves?

Conservatives are in a much better social position, especially now, to ridicule and satirize.

The article does not mention that two decades ago, conservative performers actually dominated Saturday Night Live.  Victoria Jackson, Norm Macdonald, and others set the standard of political and social satire in their time.  Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" character gently satirized evangelical Christianity's excesses without ridiculing underlying beliefs.  This let everyone laugh at the character, scored points, and offended no one. Carvey also entertained President George H. W. Bush with an off beat, but still gentle caricature of that president. Phil Hartman's 1980s impersonation of President Reagan was considered spot on, portraying a man gentle and grandfatherly in public, aggressive and in charge behind the scenes.

After SNL, Chris Farley, David Spade, and Dan Aykroyd made Tommy Boy, a hilarious look at business, competition, and sales that managed to also celebrate the free market. Aykroyd also starred in libertarian favorite Ghostbusters.

But can conservatives and libertarians match the level of comedy churned out on Comedy Central?  Yes.  Daily Caller produced an exact parody of a puffy self-congratulatory video produced by Politico. Their "Morning Bro" series is a daily dose of satirical hits on the media and politics.  One of libertarianism's primary publications, Reason, rebutted media and presidential attacks on civil discourse.  This video turned over the top political campaign statements from 1800 into modern television attack ads. Watching John Adams and Thomas Jefferson savage each other is hilarious, but also shows that today's civil discourse is much more tame than 200 years ago.

Yes conservatives are funny.  You just have to look.

No comments:

Post a Comment