MAUREEN DOWD did a wonderful piece recently for the NY Times about the challenge some white comedians and comic writers are facing when coming up with jokes and jabs about Barack Obama. I was wondering just what monologue writers were going to do myself. With so many of the people behind the pens being white and the public being well aware of that, it’s no surprise that there is increased sensitivity. Who want’s to be labeled a racist? Who hasn’t learned from the infamous New Yorker cover that satire is in the eye of the beholder?
I have a suggestion. Hire some black writers. That will do away with the double standard. Black people have been trashing each other through comedy routines for decades…but we do it in love. I mean, we have limits too, of course. However, we know what a fine line there is between meaningless mockery and comedy.
My favorite quotes from the article:
- “It seems like a President Obama would be harder to make fun of than these guys,” I said.
“Are you kidding me?” Stewart scoffed.
Then he and Colbert both said at the same time: “His dad was a goat-herder!”
- Many of the late-night comics and their writers — nearly all white — now admit to The New York Times’s Bill Carter that because of race and because there is nothing “buffoonish” about Obama — and because many in their audiences are intoxicated by him and resistant to seeing him skewered — he has not been flayed by the sort of ridicule that diminished Dukakis, Gore and Kerry.
“There’s a weird reverse racism going on,” Jimmy Kimmel said.
- On Tuesday, Andy Borowitz satirized on that subject. He said that Obama, sympathetic to comics’ attempts to find jokes to make about him, had put out a list of official ones, including this:
“A traveling salesman knocks on the door of a farmhouse, and much to his surprise, Barack Obama answers the door. The salesman says, ‘I was expecting the farmer’s daughter.’ Barack Obama replies, ‘She’s not here. The farm was foreclosed on because of subprime loans that are making a mockery of the American dream.’ ”