How to make fun of Obama (in an apparently sanctioned, 2008-sensibility sort of way)? As we all know, comedy, whether from Lewis Black, Jon Stewart, Colbert, or even the late-to-the-party Leno, is a powerful political tool. Humor helps measure and mobilize political opinion and speech. WIth Obama and his Jedi Mind Tricks, any good comedic stuff initially likely will come from betrayed and petulant progressives; rightist humor arises more slowly in our experience and tends to be more overtly clumsy — necessary to insure meme transmission.
Imagine this interview with NBC:
Andrea Mitchell (re-dyed blonde verging on orange): Senator, Rush Limbaugh repeated that joke circulating about your tennis game and John Kerry . . .
[Obama grin and slight hand gesture]: “You didn’t hear that from Rush. Rush has never been on the air . . .”
Mitchell tonelessly: “NBC News can now report that Rush has never been on the air . . .”
Obama: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.”
Mitchell: “I am not looking for my husband . . . let’s move along, Senator.”
Far fetched? We don’t think so. Eliot Ness, cede the trademark to the Untouchables. But who knows? In politics, anything is possible. Both Bushes rose to unassailable peaks on war hysteria only to end in disgrace, irrelevance and embarrassments to their parties (the Warlord’s litany of sins naturally more venal, criminal and destructive, as an apprentice to his Sith Lord (keeping the whole ILM thing going).
The effort should ignore lash back from the Crowned One’s intoxicated minions. Nothing will reach them until they want to seek help. A cure begins from within as Arthur Koestler made clear. Those aside, someone someday will discover something that works — without falling into insular New Yorker territory. Good comedy works when the edge of truth is widely recognized. It’s hard to pulll off for just an audience clapping with one hand (the other holding a vodka tonic) while summering in the Hamptons. A comedian must find broad Obama characteristics that strike a universal chord. Yet his very success has been to blur all facts, all traces of his past while blatantly declaring it is all out there. A deft Jedi Mind Trick indeed (third ILM reference).
And even if that opaque veil is lifted, who could throw the first brick? It’s hard to imagine. Even today, in so called “normal” comedy, Chris Rock is about the only performer permitted (tolerated) to venture into sensitive racial and relationship issues without a mau mau. It wasn’t always like this, but after the 1990s, it sure is now. Biting humor is in bad need of Extra Strength Dentucreme ™.
Case in point. 300 foreign affairs advisors. Who can possibly take this seriously? Or anything but risible? Ivo Daadler supervising *40* non-proliferation ‘experts’? Come on, people, there be comic gold im ther hills. 40? Daadler? Forget the specifics. You know Carrell and The Office crowd would win an Emmy even in these limpid times if they but spent a little work on the script.
Comedy itself is just another frequency in wavelengths competing for our attention and entertainment. SNL, boring and mediocre as all know it to be, should be able to do *something* with this. Their debate “sketches” were in truth more about misogyny and playing off of it rather than addressing the Crowned One. Can’t someone in 30 Rock (the place, not the show) see the whole Potemkin theater thing? It literally stares a Harvard grad seeking a future gig on the Simpsons in the face: 300, the heroics in the recent movie — does one need to spell it out literally? At least one participant in the Crowned One’s retinue candidly admitted the truth. This goes back to about every single political campaign since Humankind left caves. “I write the stuff and it disappears and I have no idea if anyone even read it.” Come on people, work with this! This is the stuff that keeps on giving.
Gushing about Obama Tour ’08 will render this all a footnote soon. In comedy, as in life and particular navigating traffic, timing is everything. Just by the laws of bio-physics, new opportunities will arise. One must seize the hem of history when she passes by. Otherwise, it is going to be a long and painfully dull four years.