Why Can't Conservatives Be Funny on TV? And Deggans on CNN Sunday
It's a law of media solid as gravity: conservatives get to rule talk radio and cable news, while liberals get documentaries, public radio and late night comedy shows.
If you need any further proof, tune into Fox News Channel at 10 p.m. Sunday to see the least-funny, most awkward TV news spoof I've ever seen on a professional television outlet, The 1/2 Hour News Hour (and this is coming from someone who has watched at least two episodes of MAD TV).
It's not that this tremendously awful enterprise makes fun of liberals -- I've been digging the Daily Show's skewering of assorted Clintons, Kennedys and Pelosis for years. It's that the jokes on this show -- developed by 24 executive producer Joel Surnow -- simply aren't funny. Ever.
Here's a sample:
Opening skit features Rush Limbaugh as president and Ann Coulter as vice president in 2009, promising that the "grownups are back in charge" while chuckling about Cindy Sheehan's cross country shooting spree and blowing off a phone call from Nancy Pelosi.
Fake newscast notes Hillary Clinton has promised, if elected president she will "surround herself with a diverse, multiethnic, multigenerational group of angry lesbians."
Another fake news item notes Iran denying it held a holocaust denial conference and looking through several liberal-inspired children's books coming soon, including "Harry Potter and the Alternative Lifestyle" and "James and the Giant Melanoma" ("Let's just say it doesn't have a happy ending," cracks the prim-looking actress cum news anchor).
There's a parody commercial for the ACLU "twisting the constitution since 1920," and a look at Barack Obama's BO magazine (along with a quip about how his candidacy was endorsed by another black politician who has admitted using drugs, Marion Barry). There's only one real comedian desperate enough to get near this mess -- standup comic Dom Irerra as a t-shirt manufacturer so deparaved he would put Idi Amin's face on a shirt alongside Che Guevara.
Sides splitting yet?
All this anti-liberal merriment feels like particularly sour grapes given the way voters thumped Republicans in the last elections. (Oh look at the liberal scientist who blames everything on global warming! And another Ed Begley Jr joke -- groundbreaking and edgy!)
And one-sided humor helps no one: even Saturday Night Live makes fun of Pelosi, the Clintons, Jesse Jackson and just about every other liberal institution and politician out there. So the notion of a comedy show which aims its guns only to the left seems even more, um, misguided.
Surnow better stick to turning 24 into a conservative fantasyland (where torture actually yields accurate information and a mealy-mouthed black liberal president is letting suicide bombers kill people all over America). Because at a time when even SNL is having trouble making us laugh, the guy who blew off pleas to stop the torture scenes on 24 is hardly qualified to to take a shot.
Deggans on CNN Sunday
More punditry coming: Howie Kurtz hasn't wised up yet, so I'll be joining the Washington Post's Frank Ahrens to talk about why black people's TV viewing habits seem so much different than white people's (hint: black people like watching other black people on TV! It's true!). We'll hit at about 10:30 a.m. or so on Sunday on Howie's Reliable Sources show.
--- And my pal Bob Andelman is back to his old tricks as Mr. Media, writing a media blog of his own and offering audio of interviews every Friday of way-cool media figures. His first offering, released today, is David Simon, creator of The Wire (a talk I helped him hook up); he was even sharp enough to get the interviews carried by iTunes as podcasts (and don't think I won't be ripping off that idea soon).
Show him some love, my people.