Glenn Beck Takes the Stage

Glenn Beck is doing the job documented comedians refuse to do: making people laugh about liberalism.

Beck, the radio titan and Fox News commentator, kicked off his six-city "Common Sense" comedy tour June 1 at Denver's Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

It's an odd venue for the populist broadcaster -- a man who talks up tater tots one minute, then belittles opera the next -- but fitting for someone with his power base. Beck is the first one to laugh at his third chin and Bowflex-free physique, but the broadcaster is as polarizing as he is potent in today's media world.

But -- can he bring the funny?

Well yes, but for only half of his two-hour performance.

Beck didn't work his way through comedy clubs en route to this tony stage. He is first a broadcaster. However, he does bring all the bells and whistles of a stand-up. He does voices, some quite well. He bounds across the stage with considerable polish, and expertly modulates his tone to bring home a punch line. At times, his rants about our absurd culture channel George Carlin, even though Beck's politics couldn't be more different. But he always returns to his "take the country back" mantra, a message he delivers with unusual conviction.

Beck began the sold-out show in a black t-shirt reading "1791" (he explains it during the show) and blue jeans. He proceeded to rail against universal health care, explaining how the private sector always outdoes the public. Just think of schools, pools, and toilets, he cracked.

He read from a recent article in Pravda, which picked apart Obama's administration more critically than any American newspaper. He pilloried the nanny state, reciting some of the more amusing warning labels on current consumer products. It's material begging to be targeted, but it took a radio talk show host like Beck to explore it -- not the comedy establishment.