Switters’ Blog

The Real “Two Americas”

Posted by switters on July 11, 2007

When John Edwards talked about “The Two Americas,” I think he missed the point. The great divide in this country is not between the rich and poor, it’s between those who have a sense of humor and those who don’t. Of course politicians in general tend to be quite lacking in this department (witness Rudy Guilliani who somehow managed to find the exception to one of the most basic rules of humor: man in woman’s clothing = comedy. Can you say “awkward and creepy” boys and girls?)

Among pundits and the general population, however, this split has a strong partisan skew with the left being far funnier as a general rule than the right. As a prime example compare “The Daily Show,” in which most of the humor is directed AT the right wing to Fox’s unwatchable “Half Hour News Hour,” which was created to give the right wing’s perspective on humor. Jokes on TDS span the range from biting political satire to sophomoric bathroom humor. Jokes on HHNH are, well… I’ve only seen excerpts of the show and I guess the producers accidentally left all the jokes out of the clips.

Is there really such a difference? TDS is now a pop-culture icon, a critical stop on author publicity tours, and a destination for politicians on both sides of the aisle. The HHNH “lead[s] its time slot in the ratings among cable news networks,” which is like saying that “purple passion” is the top rated variety of asparagus among school-age children).

What brings this to mind is a letter printed in The Daily News in which I assume the writer is trying to make a joke:

“Now that all the good people of the world donated money to saving the planet, I guess Al Gore will have enough to post bail for his son.”

The problem with this joke is not that it’s politically incorrect, it’s that it’s not funny. Connecting two or more events that are not related things is a staple of comedy, especially political comedy, but to have humor you need to have either an absurd exaggeration or some kind of a twist of the listener’s expectations.

Perhaps if Gore III’s bail was set excessively high, or if the Gore’s were making a public stand of not bailing their son out, then perhaps the joke might be funny. As it is, the writer was simply trying to take a dig at Al Gore without putting any effort into it.

What bothers me the most about this is that the letter writer is from my hometown of Sayville. I don’t mind that people think our town is populated by murderers and deviants, but I hate the idea that people will think we have no sense of humor!

To make the point that my issue is with the humor and not the topic, here are two jokes on the same subject that, while not exactly belly busters, at least contain some element of humor:

Asked what he would do next to try to combat global warming, Al Gore announced a plan to significantly reduce carbon emissions – from now on his children will only be allowed to drive when they’re straight.

Live Earth raised millions of dollars that presumably will go to organizations that promote conservation and renewable sources of energy. Judging by where the money has gone so far, I guess we can assume that the Memphis Recovery Center is about to announce a tremendous breakthrough in cold fusion.

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2 Responses to “The Real “Two Americas””

  1. dakeeper said

    Whoever posted that stupid joke should be smacked.

  2. hibbityjibbity said

    I think smacking them is a bit harsh, perhaps they think they are funny? Maybe just get them up at an open mic night at a comedy club in hopes of the self realization that they in fact are not humorous.

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