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In Australia, and I think the UK, the conservatives often pat themselves on the back for being funnier than those Direly Serious Labor pople. But their examples are all writers, and they exist all over the world -- P.J. O'Rouke is probably the most successful. On TV, commedians lean left, just like everywhere else. I am not sure why writing is different.

Everyone thinks they are funny. Doesn't mean they are.

Comedy is mainly a young man's game. Or they develop a persona and a fan base while young. So naturally they tend to be on the left. Especially as a lot of humor in the English-speaking world is based on an inability to get sex. As most people get older, they marry, they vote conservative - and they stop being funny.

Is that so?

Damn it.

But the claim about sex is right - because there was no sex in the UK until the 60s.

"Can conservatives be funny?" It's rare for anyone else to be funny. If that ain't so in the US it's because you style all sorts of fruitcakes as "conservative".

#1. No.

Next question: Can liberals be radio talk show hosts?

MT, I think you mixed up #1 vs #3.

I meant #4. (once again, can I have an edit feature, please?)

Re #7: I don't see how McCloskey and Piketty are mutually exclusive. Couldn't one argue that the former is the idealist argument while the later is the materialist one, and that these complement each other? It's possible for both r > g and for an explosion in bourgeois virtues. Isn't Herr Marx's whole argument in the Manifesto that the bourgeoise run around the world making new markets and remaking things in their own image? In other words, the expansion of capital goes-hand-in-hand with the spread and development of certain values.

Turn 4 around.

Can [ideology] laugh at themselves when their cherished beliefs are skewered?

If yes, then [opposing ideology] can be successful as mainstream comedians. If no, then no.

Do American conservatives like to watch those political comedy shows? I wouldn't and I am not American and barely conservative.

Most of those political comedy shows tend to give off a smug, in crowd vibe which I detest, no matter the political bent.

American comedy is rather awful. Jon Stewart, SNL and the rest.

It's obvious, protected and mostly targeted to make a certain audience feel good about themselves, while mocking the other.

A better question. Can leftist comedians laugh at themselves? And the audience too?

Personally, I prefer traditional British humor, which is quite happy to take the piss out of the scolds, and heavy on self deprecation.

Maybe we used to be more humble and less judgmental, whereas today we are more eager to disparage the other and signal our own moral bonafides.

Aren't you comparing American talk-shows versus Brit. fiction / TV series etc.? American shows (fiction) seem to have lots of self deprecation.

Only when the fool is representative of some out-group.

It would be hard to find much self-depreciation on American TV or in movies. Not since Lucille Ball perhaps.

In American comedies the humor almost always comes at someone else's expense. Ever since the Marx Brothers.

Take the vile M*A*S*H. Of course they couldn't make the main character a brilliant doctor - unlike his main foil in the beginning - they have to make him irresistible to women, funny, and not only always right, but always morally righteous.

The Marx Brothers and Alan Alda have ushered in an era where Carnival Barkers who play to the prejudices of the Cultists dominate our cultural landscape. Today we see the youth rejecting traditional comedians such as Laurel and Hardy in favour of "hip" Cult Jesters such as Alan Alda who are more in tune with the youth of today. I cannot even fathoum the damage but the solution seems to be to bring in serious, economic minded immigrants to outcompete our corrupt cult-believing youth.

Are you seriously arguing that Alan Alda is culturally relevant to "the youth of today." Next you'll go after Norman Lear.

That really got under your skin didn't it? At what point does the troller become the joke?

Jon Stewart has an obvious political bias and a liberalish base, but he doesn't limit his mocking to Republicans. I think his bits attacking dems and liberals are just as funny.

If Stewart can get big laffs mocking Democrats and liberals . . . why doesn't he do it more often?

Unless he's a partisan hack using his humor to push an agenda.

He's a carnival barking cult jester whose only audience is the braindead trained seal youths of America.

The Seals are American heroes. How dare you diminish their heroics by implying they lack the intelligence of true patriots. This is beyond the pale. I demand you immediately rescind your comment.

Incidentally, Stewart has spent a ton of airtime devoted to bashing Shinseki and Obama on the VA issues this week. That partisan hack. He thinks he's so clever, when the reality is he doesn't have to be smart to control his audience of braindead libtards . Most informed viewers (which his audience is NOT) would see right through his game and understand it is a disguised push to indoctrinate America, bolster Obama's personality cult, including generating unfettered support for the jackbooted VA bureaucracy. Psychology and disinformation.

This "bashing" of a cult figure who is currently out of favour is just a classic Cultist Flatire technique, first pioneered by Alan Alda and Zeppo Marx.

Sometimes parody bends over so far it turns into truth.

In any case, the majority of comedy Americans consume is in the form of rather benign sitcoms. Although entertainment is a liberal industry, most of these shows don't have much of a political leaning at all. Even Veep -- which I have to credit to a Scotsman -- isn't partisan. It just makes fun of DC culture and the people responsible for it.

Brits most valuable export is making fun of pompous politicians.

The same is true in the news business. American media styles itself as a religious order, while the Brits see themselves as scoundrels and trouble makers. It's why you get better news about America from the British tabs than the American media. The Brits are always looking for a story, while the Americans are looking to fill in the narrative.

The Brits have had more centuries to play scoundrel than Americans. Maybe that counts.

They enjoy white mans burden but on steroids.

Oops, not protected. Protracted.

You were right the first time. American comics are always looking for the boundary so they don't cross it. You can't blame them. Violate the wrong taboo and your career is over. On the other hand, there's big money in being a Cult Jester these days.

Many comedians make their names by pushing the boundaries and violating taboos. It is an easy way to get noticed. How do you not know this?

My thoughts exactly. Professional comics - not sitcoms or new shows, but professional standup comics - are just about the only people left who regularly push boundaries and get away with it.

Few make their name "pushing boundaries" and those that do are very careful to not push too hard. They also make sure they are on the "correct" side of the culture divide. It is a popular myth with you nuts to think you're the vanguard of the revolution. The truth is you're a bunch of conformist.

Can't help but notice how often BHO is the subject of scathing comic commentary.

#4 Live by the free market, die by the free market. Comedians who are funny will find lots of viewers. Comedians who find lots of viewers will find lots of work.

The problem for conservative comics is that whiny and angry usually isn't very funny.

It is funny how wanting a passable explanation, or at least a kiss on the cheek, as to why you can't keep your money is now considered "whiny."

What isn't funny is indignance...though one could make it funny. I'm not sure why people like Jeanine Garofalo or Whoopi don't try to make it funny. I never thought I'd compliment Joy Behar, but there it is.

"It is funny how wanting a passable explanation, or at least a kiss on the cheek, as to why you can’t keep your money is now considered “whiny.”"

I think you just exemplified his point, buddy.

If I want a good tradesman, I'll go find a libertarian. If I want someone who is actually fun to be around, well...

That made me laugh.

It's not true that conservatives are never funny.

Nothing is more hilarious than conservatives trying to figure out why no one thinks they are funny.

That cracks me up every time.

Of course the Cult has used the loud voices of its Carnival Barkers to undermine conservative and libertarian media platforms. Reason cannot be heard over the slapping of the fins of the trained seals as they bark at their Cult Jesters, then the CULT has the audacity to turn around and say the libertarians are not fun. Of course the libertarians don't want to play the rigged games of The Cult - the trained seals might be good at balancing big rubber balls on their noses but that doesn't prove they have any intelligence. An entire generation being controlled by Alan Alda has a bleak future indeed.

Compare Not The 9 o Clock News with the repetitive, long, drawn out-raised eyebrow of Jon Stewart or the canned laugh tracks of odious US sitcoms. The former is mostly off the cuff while Stewart actually plans his schtick.

Do people watch him because he's 'funny' or because he makes them feel comfortable about their condescension?

For me the funniest thing Stewart ever did was invite Cat Stevens to sing Peace Train at his DC rally to restore sanity.

Stevens prefers to be known as Yusuf Islam and supported the fatwa on Rushdie.

Unfortunately I'm laughing AT Stewart here, not with him. I guess you could say I was taking the piss.

Maybe so much of US life has become politicized that there's. It much left to really laugh about.

The stupid and lazy cultist youth are to blame for promoting these Carnival barkers. They are a disgrace who watch trash all day instead of reading their chemistry textbooks, they need to face the competition from more immigrant workers. Then lets see how many hours they have to be indocterinated by Stewart.

The term for it is called "flatire." That's flattery dressed up as satire. Stuart and Maher were pretty much hacks on the co0medy circuit until they figured out how to titillate the Left with flatire.

And the ironic thing is most of these PC Cultists couldn't even fix a real Flattire despite all the "flatire" they hear, instead wasting their lives listening to carnival barkers like Stewert, Maher, Alan Alda and Zeppo Marx. The cult would rather keep its trained seals barkering than have the learn elementary auto repair.

At least no one is listening to what Harpo says, and his seal seems quite untrained -

Wait, are you trying to demonstrate that a conservative can be funny, or that a liberal can, or something else?

Why, I'd like to hit the two of them -- Maher and Stewart -- with a flatire iron.

Or should I say flatire iron(y). Either way, I despise them.

I've never understood the popularity of Stuart. I'm inclined to say it is age and experience. Pop culture is for young people who have not seen it yet. Stuart just looks like Dave Letterman in the 1980's, updated with the ironic uptalk popular with the beard transplant crowd.

Of course the Cult needs to hide its intentions to have everyone forced to have beard transplants. The surgery will be performed by Alan Alda reprising his role of Hawkeye Pierce. That's why The Cult needs its cast of Carnival Barkers and Cult Jesters to lull the population into a false sense of Flatireny.

Jon Stewart letter apologized on his show for the Cat Stevens thing.

Bill Hicks and Lewis Black both seemed to find success.

#5)People should read Sachs' response in the comments. Russ Roberts, also of GMU, talked to Sachs in a recent podcast interview. Listen to that for a more complete picture.

Thanks for the heads up. He comes across to me like a corporate spokesman doing PR or a politician reciting talking points in a campaign speech, which, if he really believed in the success and value of his own work....?

Yeah, it seems very scripted. Not sure if that is because he realizes he is not very good off the cuff, or because he has had come under a lot of scrutiny and simply recited the defense 1000 times. I don't think he doubts the effectiveness and value of the work, but his bias his built-in after championing the approach for so long.

Conservatives tend to laugh at themselves more. A lot of characters designed to mock conservatives are enjoyed by conservatives, such as Archie Bunker, Alex P. Keaton, etc. King of the Hill was very popular among the Texans I knew. A lot of observational humor is also pretty conservative, it's about noticing things and usually you're not supposed to notice it. Although this may be helped by the fact that the left controls the conversation now, such that it is very easy for conservatives to be taboo. Bill Burr talking about an epidemic of "gold digging whores" doesn't strike me as liberal. There's also the Patrice O'Neal (may he RIP) comment: "This is my question, for life: have we retired the phrase, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me"? Is it legal for me to say, "I endorse hate speech, I don't give a #$%@"? I want hate speech. Why can't I hate speech?"

Hmm, yes in this particular decade subversive humour tends to favour the right. To the extent that South Park is political, it seems to lean right. I expect there is a tendency to not notice this because (a) it can't be too overt about it, and (b) the mentality that says "since that was funny, it couldn't have been conservative".

This is important. Humor is an incongruity. So change of all kinds prrrrrrobably incubates with humor.

South Park is a good example of why conservatives struggle in the humor market. It's not so much a "conservative" show as "libertarian" show, in the traditional sense of being socially liberally (pro-homosexual, skeptical of religious social influence, skeptical of bourgeois morality, etc.), while remaining skeptical of political correctness / enforced politeness, government competence / intervention, and the degree to which issues like poverty are solely a product of unfortunate circumstances. As the article points out, many of the "conservative" comics fit this mold--P.J. O'Rourke, Dave Barry, and Dennis Miller all immediately come to mind.

The problem, of course, is that the conservative movement remains loudly attached to social conservatism, which puts them at odds with half of the "South Park Platform." This is why I, for example, was not allowed to watch South Park until I moved out in college--that stuff was not funny to my preacher father. And the comedy that IS funny to people in that community tends to be very specific to the group inside its boundaries. I grew up hearing lots of Christian comedians who are really, really funny . . . to Christians. Many of the jokes fall very flat, however, to people who don't attend a church more than twice a year.

You know why South Park can't be too "overt" about its politics? Because it would receive even more bitter criticism from the group that has criticized it in the past: conservatives.

Best post on the subject on the thread.

There does not seem to be too much humor on the moral right, but there does seem to be anti-PC comedy and I would say that anti-PC is more a creature of the right. Daniel Tosh is a good example. Certainly not conservative, but very likely to piss off liberals.

I mean is this conservative?

Seems more on the conservative side to me.

I was thinking of that exact clip. It's an example of court jestering the current regime.

I've never thought it Tosh was conservative or not, but he is funny.

John Stewart has a large team of writers. Dennis Miller is funny.

But people with truly comedic taste like Jimmy Kimmel or Norm MacDonald don't really care about anything. Arguable, Kimmel never cared about anything except being a late show host. I suspect Conan O'Brien is somewhat conservative. Have we forgotten Jay Leno already, another person who got by on nothing but funny.

Jay Leno was supposed to be funny?

Jay Leno is funny.

Jay Leno is bland and unremarkable. Occasionally funny, but that's it.

His habit of pausing and then repeating his own punchlines was highly annoying.

Colbert and Stewart are nothing but demented Carnival barkers - the Cult Jesters of the great Cult of Liberalism. They and their legions of trained-seal fans have destroyed the culture and work ethic of this nation. That's why we need to bring in serious, hardworking immigrants to help save this county. In nations like India the young people don't waste time barking and slapping their seal fins at some deranged ringmasters. Instead they cram into whatever space they can to read that extra chapter of chemistry or calculus. The youth of this country is a disgrace to waste their lives listening to these jesters. Bring in more immigrants, let's have a reality check.

It's hard to take a post seriously when it contains a phrase like "the culture and work ethic of this nation" in juxtaposition with cable comedy news shows that draw ratings in the 0.42-0.52 range. Just saying.

Members of the cult like to deflect criticism of the corruption of the culture by carnival barkers and their trained seal audiences but the defelection is wearing thin. We need youths who focus on resume building and not barking at some hacks on television.

Youth should focus on resume building instead of watching comedy shows? Comments like this are a symptom of why conservative humor has problems getting traction. My guess, by the way, is that the modal viewer of Stewart and Colbert has a solid middle to upper-middle class income or trajectory towards one.

Most of them are trained seal potheads barking at their Ring Masters. The typical Colbert or Stewart viewer basically rides around on a little unicycle at the command of the Carnival Barker as their favoured "comedian" showers them with Flatire made to strengthen their belief in the Cult.

Is the random capitalization an Ayn Rand thing?

Possibly German - English capitalization is really hard for Germans to handle, lacking as it does the clear rules found in German spelling. Mind you, not that I am loyal reader of Just Another MR Commentor. Another hint - Germans tend to learn British spelling - blame the EU at this point, as its translators and regulations continue, for some unfathomable reason, to favor the spelling used in two EU members as compared to the American version.

No, random capitalization is Marxism.

I'm more curious about the cult and carnival barker imagery. It might have worked for one post, but it's a little tiresome after that.

Ohh Jamarc, you troll you.

Everyone knows the real problem is not enough immigration of low IQ Latin American peasants.

Comedy has a liberal bias!

The only comedy in America is Cult Jester Comedy and it has destroyed the culture.

Am I being paranoid being included separately in a set of posts including one lamenting conservatives not being funny?

Are libertarians better? I hope so...

Why did the cowboy get a dachsund?

Because some one told him to get a long little doggy!!!! BADAH CHAH

Mark Steyn is one of the funniest humans alive. So yes, conservatives can certainly be funny.

The question you want to ask is "Can conservative comedians gain nationwide exposure and appeal?" and the answer there is largely no. That requires the approval of the media and Hollywood, which are 2 of the most liberal institutions we have. Liberalism has extremely strict rules about allowable discourse. If you cross the boundaries, or even come near them too often, you become invisible.

The Cult took over the American media when Alan Alda used the success of M*A*S*H to dominate Hollywood. His domination continues today as the Cult has taken over all branches of American Media. The popularity of Cult Jesters like Alan Alda and Jane Fonda with the braindead youth of today is a testimate to the power of the Cult.

'Mark Steyn is one of the funniest humans alive'

If only he was aware of it ... but maybe that is what makes the joke so funny.

After hearing for years how funny Jon Stewart is, I browsed segments to try one, and chose one poking fun at Newt Gingrich. I figured that couldn't help but be funny considering Gingrich's pompous style and pride in every thought that comes out his mouth. All Stewart did was play a couple clips of Gingrich saying something mildly self-regarding and tone deaf, and then Stewart would mug for the camera with his tongue literally in his cheek and say in a goofy voice "How about that, Newton?" If that was all Stewart could do with a target as rich as Gingrich, then the emperor had no clothes. There was no comedy, no humor, no word play, no setting up for a punchline. It was just cheerleading and reminding everyone that Gingrich is a goof.

You're suggesting that if I had tried a second segment I probably would have experienced one that was funny, and that the one I selected was among Jon Stewart's worst work?

I dunno. Stewart seems less funny than Colbert, to me, and it's been awhile since I watched him. But it's always seemed weird to me how much mileage he gets out of:

a. Having a memory, so that he can (and will) play footage of multiple statements by the same person to show that they're lying.

b. Being willing to actually point out when lots of powerful people are saying stuff that's crazy or monstrous.

It's not like he's the only person who *could* do this, but it doesn't seem terribly common overall. (Or maybe it is, and I just never heard it from anyone else.)

It's because Jon Stewart isn't that funny. Now we can talk about Bill Maher, but when he's political he's not that funny.

#1, I am quite skeptic of the claim that the shoppers are pulling down $15-30 an hour. I'm sure there are *days* when they make that much on an hourly basis, but regularly?

#4, obviously yes, but you wouldn't know they were conservative. As soon as they begin making aggressively political jokes ("That Obama sure is a __") they stop being funny. Although I do think Galafikins (whatever) between the ferns with Obama was hilarious, provided you skipped over the parts where Obama was actually talking.

Conservatives have certainly cornered the market on being unintentionally funny. The only way Dennis Miller could remotely be funny is with a Groucho mask and a fart cushion. I don't know if he's considered a Conservative, but, to my taste, Bob Dole is by far the funniest politician we have, which is why I voted for him for President in 96 and am still sorry he lost. His stropped sharp wit in the presidency would have been glorious.

Dennis Miller has always struck me as a smart guy hellbent on proving how smart he is to the detriment of being funny. I'd rather watch Gallagher.

@#2 - nice blog, and the first paper, a Neo-Farmerian analysis (a term of art) has this gem: "In the remainder of this paper, {symbol} will be used as a proxy of the animal spirits of profit earners. In other words, we will assume that the mentioned variable is the latent signal that mirrors the state of long run expectations that drives the short-run determination of the equilibrium (un)employment rate." -- looks suspiciously like a hand-waving fudge factor! LOL But back-fitting, the model not surprisingly fits the data for US economic performance over the last 30 years (1984 to present), for what it's worth. Kind of like a "Taylor Rule", it works, until it doesn't.

#4: A characteristic with "conservative" comedy (not necessarily conservative comedians) is the tendency to punch down toward its subjects. This is when conservative comedy breaks down into appealing to the echo chamber mentality than the sense of humor. It's a difficult needle to thread when jokes are aimed at comforting the comfortable, and I think why successful humor is traditionally irreverent toward authority, dominant culture, the powerful. The very things that often define conservatism.

I think this is the most trite and banal definition of humor you could have come up with. What is more, it shows that you have not even tried to understand anyone else's sense of humor except your own - and what you think about yourself. It is a form of self-congratulation.

Echo chamber pretty much describes the Left's humor. John Stewart for instance is, I think, funny. But hardly ground breaking in trying to get out of that echo chamber.

Comforting the comfortable? Given that Leftist humor is pretty much all aimed at proving how morally superior they are for thinking the right thoughts, that is pretty much a definition of Leftist humor. But what is authority in modern America? The Left does not like to laugh at Unions. Look at the joys of the teachers' Union. Nope. No one will go there. Look at African Americans. Come on, to be honest there is endless scope for comedy there. But even though they are a minority they have a lock on the moral conscience of the nation and you can't laugh at them. Not even Al Sharpton. Much. But laughing at poor rural Whites? Hardly powerful but of course that is fine.

The defining feature of modern American comedy is cowardice. From both the Left and the Right. Which is why no one laughs at the monumental incompetence and self-regard of Obama.

Best political comedy ever? "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister" (treating them as one entity).

Why was it brilliant? Many reasons -- but simply high level writing and wit, for sure. It skewered politicians as only occasionally well meaning, but hardly worth glorifying, and as often clueless goofs, in spite of their public image. It revealed the warts under the surface (to coin an ugly metaphor) of gov't. But above all, it exposed the self-serving, duplicitous scheming of the career bureaucrat, whom the politician, not to mention the public, must keep an eye on. It also skewered Unions, but nor was it naive about Industry (business) twisting arms to get its way.

In short, it was actually conservative in showing how messed up and flawed political life actually is, as against the utopian idealist social engineers.

Now, what's the best comedy ever? "Black Adder". Is IT left or right?

Also up there: Monty Python, Absolutely Fabulous, Fawlty Towers, Not the 9 O'clock news, The Office

Why are Brit coms so much superior to American coms? Perhaps those who fled England in the 16th and 17th centuries to come to the New World were better known for their straightlaced seriousness than for their sense of humor.

I don't know about conservative comedy, but libertarian comedy seems to be doing well. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia comes across as a mix of libertarianism and apathy, and it's one of the most consistently funny shows on television. South Park is another example, and so is the sublime Rick and Morty, with Rick being probably the most libertarian character on television, as well as the funniest. Even shows like VEEP, which has proven capable of hilarity (although not consistency), is more nuanced politically than people give it credit for. It's full of democrats who are shown, time and time again, to be pure buffoons. The problem for conservative viewers of VEEP is that they are forced to spend half an hour with democrats, buffoonery aside.

The best comics are not defined by their personal politics, perhaps because their personal politics don't neatly fit any mold (which is probably what makes them such good comics). Louis CK comes to mind. I would guess he probably voted for Obama, but his comedy is all over the ideological map, with his main concern being honest observation rather than ideology. So he will say things that are seen to be quite liberal, followed by things that are seen to be quite conservative, but none of it is really political, it's just observational, and almost all of it is profoundly funny.

We got to post number 69 ("sixty nine, dude!) and no mention of how funny Rush Limbaugh is? What's the deal with that?

Limbaugh is the funniest man in broadcasting, bar none.

Glen Beck's radio show is oftentimes very funny as well. When they get on a riff and go all ironic, it kills me.

Ditto regarding Rush. His parodies are very good - e.g., Obaminex to keep White House staff awake during Dear Leader's speeches.

Hmmm. Conservatives might not be funny, but Liberals aren't particularly funny either, or Communists. Whatever, for instance, Richard Pryor was, it sure wasn't any kind of Liberal or Commie.

People who are politically earnest, of any stripe, and who are focused on fighting their political enemies for their side, are generally not funny. They're just not.

Occasionally such people rise to the level of ridicule, but the distinction between ridicule and humor is an old one - courtiers have ridicule, communities have humor, and decent people don't bother too much with ridicule.

In a functioning political system, you have satirists. They aren't partisan and they point out absurdities in the system and the general inadequacy and vainglory of all powerful people, whatever their political convictions, of the left or the right, and they encourage people to challenge their own political beliefs.

In the US it seems you have left wing political comedians, who... don't. What they do is mock their enemies, viciously, pander to their audience, build support for their benefactors and generally fail to make any headway in getting people to challenge their beliefs and their illusions about the world.

Why don't you have real, non-partisan TV satire? Why can't America do the equivalent of even The Thick of It?

The best America does in the respect is cartoons like South Park and the Simpsons, and guys like, "had to be on Russia Today to be both successful" Max Keiser (obviously the vast superior to Stewart or Colbert), which are admittedly pretty good at what they do, but still have the tone of sneering and ridicule.

It is because progressives are progressive.
It's all right there in the name.
I think I'll start the preferable party.

5. "After all, [Sachs] could have a good life doing nothing more than teaching two classes a semester and pumping out armchair advice in academic journals."

Or writing a newspaper column, book reviews or...a blog.

Little known fact, Alan Alda also started HFT.

#4. I wish there was a liberal Hollywood conspiracy against conservative comedians because somebody needs to stop Adam Sandler from hitting himself....

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