THE BLOG

President Obama & America's Comedically-Challenged Funnymen

05/25/2011 02:30 pm ET
  • Mark Joseph Producer, author and publisher of Bullypulpit.com

For years liberals and conservatives have argued back and forth about a press biased against their side. President Obama is now leading a crusade against conservative talk radio and Fox News, while for years, at least since Richard Nixon's presidency, conservatives complained about biased coverage by the mainstream media.

I think it's fair to say that most mainstream news orgs tilt left while talk radio leans right but somehow through a multitude of voices and forms of media, we arrive at a semblance of balance. But I'm increasingly troubled by the lack of objectivity among comedians, especially when it comes to the treatment of our new President.

Comedy should be bipartisan, and we should all be able to laugh equally at conservative and liberal leaders alike, but an increasingly ideological comedy community suddenly claims it can't find anything to laugh about when it comes to Barack Obama, a problem they mysteriously never seemed to have with previous presidents.

President Gerald Ford was an ace football star at the University of Michigan, yet a few slip ups like this one caused SNL star Chevy Chase to create sketches like this one which had us all convinced that Ford was a bumbler.

But if we thought our comedians were being equal opportunity mockers, the joke was on us. In an unusual moment of candor, Chase confirmed last year what conservatives had long suspected: comedians were acting less like an impartial umpire and more like a referee who kept throwing punches when the judges weren't looking.

"I wanted Carter in and I wanted him out," Chase said of Ford and his relentless if hilarious attacks on the sitting President. "And I figured, 'look we're reaching millions of people.'"

A nonplussed CNN interviewer tried again to make sure she had heard him right.

"Wait a minute you mean to tell me that in the back of your mind you were thinking 'hey I want Carter and I'm going to make him look bad?'"

"Oh Yeah!," Chase replied.

Ronald Reagan's occasional napping and his seeming disengagement from the issues provided fodder for comedians and hilarious sketches like this one in which Reagan the foreign policy mastermind pretends to be the amiable dunce that Clark Clifford once called him.

George Bush's mangled syntax and general awkwardness was all Dana Carvey needed to mock him effectively as he did here.

Who could forget SNL's hilarious take on Bill Clinton whose outsized appetites for sex and fast food provided wonderfully funny moments like this one.

Then there was Will Ferrell smartly capturing George W. Bush's cowboy impatience and less than perfect command of the English language here.

But then along came Barack Obama and suddenly professional funny-men claimed in articles like this one and this one that they were suddenly unable to be funny anymore.

Sorry, comedians of America, we don't believe you, and after Chase's confession, we really don't believe you. But for a moment let's just pretend you're not pretending you can't be funny in order to help him politically and you are, indeed, momentarily, truly comedy-challenged. Here are some suggestions from an amateur:

Americans love to laugh at our Presidents and if our so-called funnymen keep feigning an inability to speak humor to power-and make us laugh-we may have to find new voices who prize doing their jobs and keeping the jokes coming over advancing an ideologically-driven political agenda.