Posts tagged as this week in political comedy

Comedy Looks Beyond the Debt Ceiling

Last Friday morning NPR host Mary Louise Kelly wrapped up a segment on the debt ceiling debate by quoting the Onion headline "Congress Continues Debate Over Whether or Not Nations Should Be Economically Ruined." It was an attempt for the news program to import some levity into their coverage of this perplexing voluntary crisis, but it was also the truest thing that's been said about the debt ceiling to date, and you could sense Ms. Kelly knew this.

The debt ceiling debate in Washington has been dragging on for a long time now. The comic reaction was measured at first — comedians were taking their time to ponder [...]

The Importance of Stephen Colbert's Bold and Subversive PAC

On Wednesday night Stephen Colbert took on Comedy Central's parent company Viacom, calling out their lawyers for trying to block his attempts to form a political action committee for the 2012 election. For the second time this year, he has publicly defied his corporate masters on air to try to keep his campaign going.

By promoting his Colbert Super PAC on the Colbert Report against Viacom's wishes, Colbert is crossing the comedy line yet again. He is using his cable news persona's megalomania to bring exposure to some brand new and potentially devastating realities in campaign financing, something that most voters are not even aware of, not because we [...]

The Comedy Stylings of Rep. Anthony Weiner

Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner spoke at the Congressional Correspondents Dinner this week, and it was well liked. These dinners are events where politicians stand up in front of journalists and attempt to tell jokes. Except for the one that had Stephen Colbert, these political correspondents dinners are generally cringe worthy and forgettable. Politicians recite inside jokes about current political controversies. At the White House dinner last May, Obama cracked about his birth certificate and Arizona immigration.

But Weiner’s self-deprecating routine would have felt at home at an open-mic stand up. He quipped about Jewfros and childhood bullying. He had a multimedia presentation and talked about his [...]

Nir Rosen and the Value of the Comedy Killer

If the internet has a down side for anyone, it's that it makes it much harder for casual sexists and racists to tell jokes among friends. (And yes, Chris Lee, it’s also made it harder for casual adulterers, but that’s last week’s story.)

It would be tough for me to claim that this week's top political comedy story was anything other than the joke that went awry: journalist Nir Rosen's poorly conceived tweet belittling CBS correspondent Lara Logan's sexual assault while covering the revolution in Egypt. As Tom Scocca of Slate rightly points out, it’s foolish and ill-advised for me (or most anyone, but particularly men) to say [...]

Political Comedy's Gender Gap

I had no idea whether current events would overlap with Splitsider's Women in Comedy week, but then Michele Bachmann happened. At first I was like, that's great! Her Tea Party State of the Union response was like a media coverage suicide bombing. Bachmann blew herself up for a greater cause: to keep Obama’s speech from dominating the news cycle.

This should be political comedy gold, right? Indeed. On Thursday afternoon there were four video parodies of Michele Bachmann's rebuttal just on the Huffington Post Comedy page, plus one of those things Andy Borowitz does. It worked!

The appeal for comedians is clear: Bachmann is a nut job. This is [...]

The Colbert Super PAC's Real (Secret) Victory

Yesterday the Federal Election Commission in a 5-to-1 vote approved Stephen Colbert's media exemption, allowing him to turn his show into a non-stop fundraiser for some secret, but sure to be hilarious, future purpose. Yet while the FEC allowed Colbert to form his Super PAC, the decision came with some big restrictions, including the limiting of his ads to Comedy Central. Depending on your view of Colbert's goals or your preference for cliché, Colbert has either won the battle and lost the war, or pulled off one of the greatest bait-and-switches in recent comedy.

In the lead up to Thursday's hearing, political activist sites had begun turning their attention [...]

A Timeline of Osama Bin Laden Comedy

We don't have to stop making jokes about him just because he's dead. It's fair to wager he'll be as big a staple in American comedy fifty years from now as Hitler jokes are today. Still, it won't be the same. The jokes comedians made about Osama bin Laden this week were jubilant, but the jokes we told each other when he was alive had edge. Back then it was laughing at the man who not only wanted to kill us, but (we thought) had the power to really do so. If it feels like we've been listening to Osama bin Laden jokes all our lives, that's because [...]

In Praise of The Onion's American Voices

For all the attention their stories receive and how often their news headlines get reposted, The Onion’s American Voices column has a way of being overlooked. Well, we should talk about it more, because it really is one of their funniest and best features.

American Voices has been so reliably well executed for such a long time it’s almost easy to take its quality for granted. And looking at the same six pictures, three at a time, as their names change week after week and their occupations grow boringer and boringer (recently: Machine Fastener, Assistant Managing Editor, Braille Typist, Hair Sample Matcher, Unemployed, Unemployed, Unemployed) it’s hard [...]

Comedy and the New Congress

It started out a quiet week on the domestic front, as comedians contemplated the Black Eyed Peas, Groupon, and Mubarak, while Republicans and Democrats continued to re-fight old battles to another stalemate. But before political comedy gets washed away in the deluge of shirtless Chris Lee parodies (early leader, Conan, let's take a moment to look at the state of legislative affairs in early 2011.

The top story on the Times front page yesterday was ‘House Leaders Facing Turmoil in G.O.P. Ranks’ but a truer if less factually accurate story was The Onion’s lead from last week, "Republicans Vote to Repeal Obama-Backed Bill that Would Destroy [...]

The Fall of Joe Lieberman: A Look Back Through the Lens of Comedy

Comedians lost a dependable villain this week: Joe Lieberman announced his retirement in 2012. We'll always remember Joe Lieberman as the man who killed the public option, who campaigned against Barack Obama, and who kissed George W. Bush at the State of the Union. But Lieberman wasn't always evil. Before he was a traitor, he was a deluded, stubborn presidential campaigner, and before that, he was just boring. Before that, he was a good loser and faithful Democrat, and before even all that, he was just Jewish.

As he prepares to move on to that well compensated lobby in the sky, let's take a look back at Joe's [...]

Is Anthony Weiner's Sex Scandal an Act of Conceptual Comedy?

Nothing new can be said about Anthony Weiner's political future. Either he will resign or he won't. But few people have discussed how this scandal might affect Congressman Weiner as a comedian. Will his famous comic persona ever return, or are his joke telling days over? Will he ever tweet again? And is it remotely possible that all this scandal was an Andy Kaufman-style stunt of conceptual comedy gone awry?

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the past week has been the flimsiness of Anthony Weiner's political support. Over the past year Weiner has emerged as one of the most visible presences in Congress, and the media has portrayed him [...]

The Persistence of Birther Humor

What does Obama have in common with God? Neither has a birth certificate.

Donald Trump's recent embrace of the birther conspiracy has been a bonanza for political comedians. He even received a hearty thank you at the top of Conan's monologue last night. Though Trump is getting notoriety for bringing the controversy back into the spotlight after repeated and thorough debunkings last year, the birther issue never really went away. When not being discussed as a serious question for debate, it has persisted in the form of birther jokes.

The birther joke is particularly popular among Republican leaders, and not just the local email forwarders. With a year and [...]

Political Comedy Loves the 80s

Recently the news has been feeling a little too familiar. Old characters have been making comebacks, and old jokes have come out of retirement. With today's comic focus on Moammar Gadhafi, tax cuts, and union workers, not to mention the omnipresence of Brat Pack associate Charlie Sheen and his non-stop talk of cocaine, you'd be forgiven for thinking the 80s are here again.

It's been heartening to see the unions in the spotlight again. The 80s were the beginning of the end for unions as a central part of American life. As any article about the standoff in Wisconsin will mention, union power began to wane after Ronald Regan [...]

Making Jokes About Egypt

It can't be easy to write comedy about the stuff that happens around the world. If the President, whose job it is to have opinions about these events, can't come up with a coherent response to developments in Egypt for a week, think about how hard it must be for comedians to react immediately, to predict what the unformed public opinion will be, and to do it funny. So let's give credit where it's due. Overall, the comedy that's come out of the recent uprising in Egypt has been very impressive. (I'm referring to American comedy about Egypt, of course, not Egyptian comedy, but that may also be doing [...]