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Face It: Liberals Just Aren’t Very Funny

Frank J. Fleming, "certified funny by all the national authorities," explains why the left doesn't do humor.

by
Frank J. Fleming

Bio

April 6, 2012 - 12:00 am

Over at the Huffington Post, Alf LaMont wrote about why people on the left are good at humor and those on  the right aren’t. We see articles like this every so often, where liberals enthusiastically agree (“I listened to someone on the right tell political jokes, and it wasn’t funny at all. All it did was hurt my feelings.”), and one gets the idea that they’re very insecure about this issue. And they have good reason to be.

I hate to be the one to break this to the left, but they just aren’t very funny. I do find their self-assurance of how funny they are a bit endearing at times (like they’re a bunch of Fozzie Bears — “Conservatives are evil! Waka Waka!”), but pretty much no one on the left is good at humor at all (except for the feminists, who are hilarious masters of deadpan).

Now, I know liberals think conservatives don’t tell jokes and only find humor in laughing at poor people. (Actually, that gives me a good show idea: “Poor People Falling Down Stairs.”  It’s funny because it’s poor people getting hurt and also because you’re thinking to yourself, “How did these poor people afford a place with stairs?”)

So it’s funny on a number of different levels. But anyone who doesn’t live in a bubble knows there are lots of funny conservatives. Liberals will point to how many more professional comedians they have, but that’s exactly it. Conservatives can be funny in their spare time, but for liberals to even attempt to be funny, they have to work the entire day at it.

Take me, for example. I’m certified funny by all the national authorities. In fact, doctors often use my material as a diagnostic tool. If someone reads something I’ve written and doesn’t laugh, that probably means he has a brain tumor. But I don’t work all day to be this funny. I have a day job as an engineer. I have duties as a husband and a father. I’m a member of numerous guilds in Skyrim. So I have maybe eight minutes a day to be funny. But, being conservative, that means I’m so good at humor, that’s enough time to be as funny as any liberal who works all week at what he thinks passes for funny.

So people often say to me, “Frank, I can tell by your official-looking hat that you’re a humor expert. Why are the left so bad at being funny?” And I’m glad they ask. Let me explain the reasons:

1. Comedy requires detachment and the ability to be self-effacing. To be funny, you have to let the humor, not the politics, be the priority. While conservatives let their religion influence their politics, to liberals, politics is their religion and is thus sacred and can’t be joked about. They don’t find anything funny about the current political atmosphere, because they intensely fear that racist Republicans are going to lynch the president and then rape everybody with ultrasounds. It’s super serious to them, which is why what they call “humor” often devolves into angry hate, like with Bill Maher and Janeane Garofalo. Remember when Garofalo used to be kind of cute? But then the hate shriveled her up like the Dark Side did with Palpatine. I think Bill Maher always looked like someone plotting to eat the Billy Goats Gruff, though.

2. Comedy is about having an intellectual connection with your audience. A problem with the left is that they isolate themselves too far from average Americans to relate with them. Though liberals are a minority in this country, they are very good at putting themselves in a bubble so they’re only ever around other leftists who reaffirm their views. That’s why they seem so surprised and upset when they encounter opinions held by the majority of Americans and why they were taken so off guard by how hugely unpopular things like Obamacare are. And it’s how they keep convincing themselves they’re hilarious — by only hanging around the few remaining people who think a “Sarah Palin is dumb” joke is edgy.

3. Comedy requires self-awareness. You’ve seen how the hippies at Occupy Wall Street seem so perplexed that people don’t take them and their “down twinkles” seriously? Well, comedy requires some ability to understand how others perceive you, and liberals are horrible at that. While most people see the left as silly nitwits, they just think everyone looks at them as these obvious geniuses. This is a big reason they have so much trouble coming up with jokes about President Obama. “How in the world are we supposed to make fun of an out-of-touch elitist who thinks he’s smarter than everyone and who has written multiple memoirs despite never having accomplished one useful thing in his entire life? It’s impossible!” Really, if you can’t make fun of Obama, you need to turn in your comedian badge right now. You can keep the gun.

4. Can’t be an elitist. For comedy to work, the comedian has to have some amount of respect for the audience. But liberals look down on everyone who doesn’t subscribe to left-wing politics. Try going to a comedy club and yelling, “You’re all stupid idiot hillbillies! I’m much smarter than you! Shut up shut up shut up!” It probably won’t go over very well. Well, maybe with the right delivery.

5. The Truth. If someone says, “Two plus two equals four,” how do you make fun of that person as an idiot? That’s the challenge in much of the left’s political humor. Like with the Tea Party — how could liberals make fun of the truism, “The government should spend less than it takes in?” They have to twist themselves in knots to try to make that sound like a ridiculous notion. Eventually they just settled on, “People who believe that are racist!” And how do you ridicule the notion that people know better how to run their own lives than the idiots in government do? “You silly twits! The people in D.C. are so obviously smart — just look at someone like Dennis Kucinich or Barney Frank — and you should submit to their will. By the way, I’m subversive.” If the left can actually manage to make good jokes that make fun of obvious truths, then they really are the masters of humor, and I will hand over my humor expert hat.

Frank J. Fleming is the author of Punch Your Inner Hippie, coming November 11th, and the science fiction novel Superego, coming later this year, blogs at IMAO.us, is a writer for the creative agency Emergent Order, and wants you to buy his book.
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