micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
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Monday, August 18, 2003
Via Greg Beato, I've come across The Right Stuff, a site promoting shows in southern California by conservative comedians that are said to produce "Comedy for Real Americans." They have a press release that says:
Look out, Bill Maher! Step aside, Janeane Garofalo! Run for cover, Michael Moore!While I think it is long past time to consider "talk radio and cable news programs" to be "mainstream" because of their popularity and influence, it is worth noting that lefty comics feel their voices are left out of the mainstream of comedy. The Guardian piece on comic Dwight Slade that I noted on Saturday includes the following grafs:
Slade is aware that in Edinburgh he will play to audiences who, attracted by [Bill] Hicks's criticisms of the US, know his work more intimately than their American counterparts. Hicks was shunned by the US mainstream, and censored, famously, by The David Letterman Show.Janeane Garofalo made a similar point in an interview with Elizabeth DiNovella that appeared in the May issue of The Progressive
Q: What's your opinion of political comedy these days?Both propositions could be true either because the mainstream of comedy doesn't particularly like comedians who are overtly coming from the left or the right and/or because expressing rightist views is a hindrance in some situations while expressing leftist views has the same effect in others. (There may indeed be restrictions on the topics that the comedians of The Right Stuff can pursue when they are on t.v. but those restrictions are certainly faced by lefty comics as well.)
The closet joke in The Right Stuff press release is humorous not because it is funny on the level the authors intended it to be but because in many ways their statement that "it wouldn't matter if they were" gay firmly places them in what I suppose could be called the socially liberal category, a placement that may be the only "political" prerequisite for making it in mainstream comedy as Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn makes clear four nights a week. (Anti-gay humor is nothing exceptional but it can't be done from a perspective of morality if a comic is to be mainstream.) If anything I would say there is more liberal comedy on the major television shows than rightist humor, but certainly more rightist material than leftist material and significantly more pro-"war on terror" humor than anti-"war on terror" humor.
None of this is to say that The Right Stuff is a bad idea. I certainly don't want censorship and if people who support the "war on terror" and other conservative ideas find that their need for humor isn't satiated by U.S. Information Minister George W. Bush, I won't prevent them from entering a comedy club in a part of the U.S. I don't live in.