Groucho Marx, a reluctant petitioner for the Hollywood Ten, a group of communist screenwriters investigated by the House Un-American Actitivies Committee in 1947, once lamented that he and his brothers were not called to testify. He believed that the lunatic times of the blacklist were a perfect setting for the Marx Brothers’ own brand of lunacy.
At first glance, the Brothers’ anarchic spirit seemed to inhabit the white-teethed, hair-plugged body of Vice President Joe Biden during the debate. He interrupted Ryan (82 times by some counts) rudely in the Groucho manner.
But there is one problem with such a comparison: Biden wasn’t funny. For the Brothers’ humor to work, they needed a stuff shirt to deflate. Ryan was hardly that.
And worse, although satire is about defying logic, and Biden certainly does that, the true satirist has to know logic in order to defile it. Biden certainly doesn’t.
Biden will no doubt be applauded for his antics by liberal Hollywood. But for the rest of the sober minded–and I mean that figuratively as well as literally–Biden came across as a tired old vaudevillian engaging in some banter with an invisible straight man.
Conservatives have long argued that Obama is a weak debater because no one ever asks him tough questions. Indeed, the mainstream media spends more time swooning or carrying his water or both than helping hone his debate skills.
A similar process occurs with Biden. No one tells him he is not funny. As a result, he will continue his crazy relative schtick throughout the campaign, and brave will be the handlers who will tell him his brand of lunacy will make voters uncomfortable with the fact that he is next in line for the nuclear trigger.