New York Times does another one of those can-comedians-make-fun-of-Obama stories, with a Jon Stewart writer saying that Obama is “less likely to say something stupid” than Bush and suggesting the Daily Show will focus on Fox News and the “Democratically-controlled Congress.” The article is predictably unfunny, though some commenters on it are (“Those are good targets,” deadpans Gawker. “Bill O’Reilly just re-upped, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is barrels of fun”).
The popular belief that comedians cannot make fun of Obama may appear to stem from Fred Armisen’s dreadful impersonation, but is actually part of an ancient meme by conservatives that comedians, as members of show biz and thereby definitional traitors, had too much fun with Bush (“The comedians and entertainers who have hijacked the political debate to publicize themselves are doing no service to their country” — Washington Times, 2004), and are now pledged to defend Obama with unlaughter.
During the recent campaign, for example, we got “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’S IN-KIND CONTRIBUTIONS TO OBAMA” — Sound Politics, “[Jon Stewart is] a hack for the Democratic Party and you only tell jokes about one side — Joe Scarborough, “The media doesn’t laugh because you can’t make fun of Obama” — American Thinker, etc.
They even offer to show comedians how it’s done, as with a gallery of Obama Presidential Seals. Why do they bother? Isn’t “South Park” on every night?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 7, 2008