Conservative humor: The ultimate oxymoron

By Eric Naing

After witnessing the runaway success of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Fox News has apparently decided to get in on that action with “The Half Hour News Hour.” This conservative alternative to The Daily Show seeks to counteract the evil, liberalizing effect Jon Stewart has on impressionable television viewers. While this may sound like a decent plan, it has one fatal flaw: the physical inability of conservatives to be funny.

The political significance of “The Daily Show” can’t be understated. More and more young people are getting their news from the program instead of from traditional news outlets. But as an Indiana University study shows, “The Daily Show” is just as substantive as “real” news programs and as a University of Pennsylvania study shows, Daily Show viewers were actually more informed about the 2004 election than viewers who watched regular news broadcasts.

But as the icy reception to Stephen Colbert’s brilliant performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner shows, conservatives are completely out of touch with what’s funny. At its core, conservative humor tends to be little more than childish name calling against liberal straw men or blatant appeals to bigotry and intolerance.

As Doug Giles writes at the conservative Townhall.com, “You can count on one hand how many conservatives are making a semi-distinct blip on the comedic scene.” He then proceeds to dust off the old chestnut of the Asian speaking broken English writing that young people “no likey” conservatives.

Dennis Miller is probably the most successful conservative comedian (that is, if you define success as hosting a low rated and short-lived CNBC talk show). And his brand of humor was on full display on a recent Hannity & Colmes episode when he called Rep. Nancy Pelosi a “nimrod” and a “latter day Wacky O.” Miller also called Pelosi “a C-minus, D-plus applicant … who no doubt would have been drummed out of the Mary Kay corps after an initial four-week evaluation period.” All of which essentially boils down to “Nancy Pelosi is a stupid woman, ha ha.”

And the laughs don’t stop there. Other examples of conservative humor include Rush Limbaugh’s “Club Gitmo” parody wherein he compares the atrocities at Guantanamo Bay to Club Med or his Michael J. Fox impersonation which involves flailing his arms in the air. Or the time Bill O’Reilly wished that Hurricane Katrina hit the United Nations building or when he wished that al-Qaida would bomb San Francisco. Or the time when Ann Coulter said, well, basically anything.

To be fair, I have yet to watch an episode of “The Half Hour News Hour,” but judging by Red Eye, Fox News’s other comedic attempt to “broaden the definition of a news channel,” I doubt I’ll be rolling on the floor laughing out loud. In a leaked clip, Red Eye host Greg Gutfield repeats Sen. Joe Biden’s recent description of Barack Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate, bright, and clean” to which another host replies, “Oh. Well, I think Oprah’s clean” which prompts a third host to say, “She does douche. I was told I was allowed to say the D-word!” I’m all for Oprah jokes, but that had no context whatsoever and was unnecessarily sexist and racist.

Without having seen “The Half Hour News Hour,” I already know that all the jokes will be something along the lines of “Boy, (insert the ACLU, environmentalism, PETA, liberal academia, political correctness or Barbara Streisand here) sure is stupid!” And when not making fun of liberals, most conservative jokes consist of either bashing the Clintons or calling Ted Kennedy a drunk (which I admit can still be funny.)

Rush Limbaugh recently taped a segment for “The Half Hour News Hour” in which he and Ann Coulter are the president and vice president.

This is apparently funny because, well, that sure would drive liberals crazy! Sorry Fox, but I’ll take Stewart over Limbaugh, Coulter or Miller any day.