Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts on humor, in reply to Steven Crowder

by Smitty

Steven Crowder has done some excellent videos on PJTV and elsewhere. He has a blog post on Big Hollywood where he muses that Republicans Need to Grow a Sense of Humor.
Crowder specifically cites three incidents,
  • BHO's Special Olympics comment on Leno
  • Wanda Sykes’ Correspondence Dinner Shtick about Rush and kidney failure
  • Letterman
He concludes:
I’m sorry “fellow Republicans”… But when will we get a clue? Before Reagan, we were seen as the party that couldn’t take a joke. The Gipper fixed that one for us. Now, however, because of silly Conservatives using political correctness as a fulcrum for political gain, we find ourselves right back at square one.
One of my goals in life is to watch political correctness shrivel up and die (as it should be for any true Conservative). I can’t do that however, if Republicans insist on resuscitating it back to life every time they want to act “offended.” Do we really want to be the person at the party around which everyone has to tiptoe around for fear of offending our sensibilities? Come on… We’re not supposed to be “that guy.” Leave that kind of crap to the Sean Penn pansies of the world.
I can track Crowder's point a short distance. There is a point about avoiding being a broken record, belaboring points, and majoring on minors.
Once upon a time I at a retreat, the attendees were assigned to create sketch comedy poking fun at the organizers. The wise old fellow in charge of my cabin laid down some ground rules about comedy that stuck:
  • Bodily functions are not funny. We all have them, we know what they are.
  • Real humor is not sarcasm ('to tear flesh'). Humor is positive. Sykes and Lettermain fail it.
  • Humor is universal. If the humor isn't safe for work (grandma, school, house of worship), it's probably not funny.
  • Humor educates, unifies, and triggers real communication between people. If you're raising hackles, it's not funny.
  • Then there is the Monty Python with the slapstick:

So, Mr. Crowder, should we laugh at the examples you cite? I'll meet you halfway and allow the so-called comedians in question should be ignored. The shrill reactionary shtick may not be buying much. Finally, it is true that taking oneself too seriously isn't funny.

UPDATE (RSM): David Letterman disemboweled and beheaded on Broadway -- that would be funny!


  1. A verbal kick in the groin is not funny.

    Accusing people of crimes is not funny.

    Making fun of kids overcoming problems that are not their fault is not funny.

    Wishing bodily harm on people (used to be called "making a curse" or something like that) is not funny.

    Pain, physical, psychic, or imagined is not funny.

    Run down the list. Ain't funny, McGee.

    I don't think Mr. Reagan ever insulted anybody, did he?

  2. There is a huge difference between "letting it slide" and "letting people walk all over you."

    From the Daily Show to The Tonight Show, conservatives and our putative leadership is ridiculed on a daily basis without generating outrage.

    But once in a while a line is crossed in the name of "comedy" that should not be, and conservatives shouldn't be afraid to stand up and point it out.

    What irks most conservatives is the blatant double standard that the media employs where "comedy" is concerned. When conservatives see things like BHO on Leno or Sykes at the Correspondents Dinner, it isn't just about the joke itself. It's the recognition that, if the tables were turned and the joke-teller were conservative, they would immediately be drummed out of public life. It's not the joke that makes conservatives mad, it's the blatant double-standard.

    When the double-standard has been eliminated then maybe Mr. Crowder can be taken seriously. But he completely fails to see the real reason that conservatives are upset about these incidents. When he can muster the courage to train his fire on those employing the double-standard rather than those who occasionally get fed up enough to speak out against it, then he'll have a leg to stand on.

    Until then, his column is just one big joke.

  3. Republican staffers who email an image showing our nation's 44 presidents but with Obama's photograph displaying a dark background and glowing white eyes is not funny!

  4. Yeah, he'd have a point--if we didn't live in this reality.

    How well has letting it slide worked for conservatives? Did Sarah Palin really say she could see Russia from her house? Most Americans think so. Could Bush get through a single public speech without messing up? Most Americans think he forgot his own name some times. Ha ha, so funny, all these political attacks and insults we're to "let slide in the name of humor" all because they are labeled "jokes."

    This guy's advice is stupider and worse than the beltway morons running the party; they at least think if we keep doing the same thing, sooner or later we'll find success. This guy wants us to go so far as to ignore all past failures--worse, he accepts without objection yet another stereotype (conservatives have no sense of humor) and gives the left additional ammo to perpetuate it.