Vice.com just published a confessional so funny it belongs in “The Onion.”
Ironically enough, the author of the piece once worked for that satirical news site. Now, Joe Garden is having second thoughts about a line of jokes he wrote for “The Onion” during the Obama administration.
Naturally, they didn’t involve President Barack Obama. Comedians took an eight-year nap when it came to poking fun at the commander in chief. The yuks in question were aimed at Vice President Joe Biden.
— The Onion (@TheOnion) January 18, 2017
The narrative? That crazy, harmless ol’ Joe. Talk about biting satire!
Yet it’s that very meme that’s sticking in Garden’s craw given Biden’s commanding lead in the Democrat’s presidential race.
If you’ve ever thought of Joe Biden as a clueless but lovable clod, a well-meaning klutz who is predictable, friendly, and ultimately electable, I am in small part responsible for that image. And I’m sorry.
The piece shares his disgust that his satirical articles painted Biden in an inoffensive light. He’s too problematic, too willing to work with (gasp!) Republicans to be the Democrats’ best hope, Garden wails.
And on and on it goes.
As I watch him campaign as an old (-fashioned, -school, -old) centrist, I realize how badly we screwed up. Instead of viciously skewering a public figure who deserved scrutiny, we let him off easy. The joke was funny, but it didn’t hit hard enough.
Let’s start with the obvious. Stop apologizing for comedy. Tell the joke, move on. Or, as Jay Leno famously put it: Write joke. Tell joke. Get check.
Is there anything sadder than seeing Jonah Hill whimper about the bro comedies that made him famous?
Secondly, Garden gives away the modern comedy game. Political humor isn’t speaking truth to power, nor do the laughs matter most. It’s all about the narrative. And, since the vast majority of comic minds lean left, that trumps making us guffaw.
They call it “clapter,” where the audience of like-minded souls clap for a joke rather than actually laugh. It’s killing comedy as we once knew it. Just watch any late-night TV talk show.
Garden’s mea culpa also confirms another truth. The mainstream press doesn’t do its job. If Biden was/is as serially flawed as he suggests, shouldn’t reporters have clued us in by now? We shouldn’t need a comedian to lay out the cold, hard facts.
Finally, the op-ed reveals the ego behind the comic mind. My jokes are so truth-telling, so powerful, they can make people change their minds on a given politician, Garden insinuates. There may be a kernel of truth to this, given how Tina Fey helped the country sour on Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign. Still, it’s rather egotistical to think a few Onion features will sway the electorate.
If that were the case, how in the world did “Apprentice” alum Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton two-plus years ago?