Last updated on March 17, 2021
Conservatives frequently complain about the prominence of left-leaning comedy. And they often try to make up for it by presenting pitifully unfunny characters on so-called “news” networks like Fox News, where goofball Greg Gutfeld just got his Saturday show promoted to five nights a week. Then again, there’s already a lot on Fox that is laughable.
The argument that comedy has a left-wing bias (just like reality, according to Stephen Colbert) could be supported if all one looks at is the content of late night talk shows and Saturday Night Live where most of the targets of the jokes are Republicans or other right-wing figures. It is undeniable that they supply an abundance of raw material for humor.
However, there are numerous reasons for what the right believes is a conspiracy by the Comedy Overlords to suppress and malign Republicans. But you have to look deeper than the surface level evidence of TV jokesters.
Anyone who wonders why there isn’t very much conservative comedy is inadvertently acknowledging a significant truth: Conservatives just aren’t funny. Comedy is a delicate art that requires a certain finesse to pull off successfully. And the subject of the jokes is as important as the punch line. Experienced comedians will tell you that the target must always be someone of privilege. You cannot make fun of the poor without exposing yourself as callous and cruel. In other words, you don’t punch down.
Conservatives still don’t get that simple rule. And since their whole political ideology is one that is dedicated to advancing the interests of the upper-crusters, down is the only direction that they can punch. So the available targets for their humor are limited to the under-privileged who are already suffering hardships. Not only is that an empty source for comedy, it risks insulting the majority of the audience.
Even when conservatives have potential targets who are among the elite, they still manage to flub their efforts at fun-making. An example of that was conveniently supplied by Benny Johnson of the rightist “news” channel, Newsmax. He did a segment about the importance of comedy to a healthy society. And he demonstrated its use by mocking President Joe Biden, a viable target.
The problem is that, even though Biden is a member of an elite class of political power players, the joke that Johnson chose to feature was about Biden’s well-known speech impediment. That was a bad choice. You simply don’t make fun of people’s disabilities. While an able-bodied man slipping on a banana peel could be funny, no one is going to laugh at a paraplegic who fell out of his wheel chair.
With that in mind, check out what Johnson has to say about comedy in his introduction to a bit on Joe Biden. Note that most of of the “funny” parts are making fun of Biden’s stutter with an added laugh track that Johnson must have thought made it even funnier:
“Big tech censors are working in lock-step with the current administration to suppress comedy and criticism of the Biden administration. Cancel culture has eroded the joy in American culture to the point of absurdity. This is why it is more important than ever in American history to keep humor and ridicule alive. Because it is now clear that we could very well be on the verge of losing it. And lastly guys, if we can just admit, right now, together, that we are living under one of the funniest administrations in American history.”
Oh yeah. That was hilarious. A supercut of a man with a stutter, plus some random moments taken utterly out of context to make him look demented. What’s more, Johnson’s whining about imaginary “Big Tech censors” oppressing conservative comics is – well – hysterical. But as for that pressing question of the modern era: Why aren’t there any conservative comedians? Johnson has helped us answer it by his boorish and infantile example. Coming soon on Newsmax: Blind Truckers and America’s Funniest Epileptic Seizures.
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