I’d like to begin this week by sharing a time capsule of sorts. I advise you to watch only the first minute, but here is 25 minutes of Norm MacDonald on SNL’s Weekend Update insulting Hillary Clinton:
Brutal, and not “a brutal takedown” as in the modern parlance, but barbaric in a way I had not seen or heard for years against one of the leading Democrats from the leading voice of comedy at the time. It’s also a sobering reminder that for many years before the Monica scandal, Bill’s affairs were common knowledge and Hillary was nearly indicted for Whitewater.
Now comedy is basically all Centrist Democrat. The now toothless Daily Show has spawned a hyperactive, hyper-smug copycat in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and Daily Show-lite segments on The Late Show and Late Night. All these shows are not even leftist. They’re centrist, which is a philosophy espoused by their white writing staffs. Notice there’s never any mention of Hillary’s neo-conservative “No Fly Zone” promise or her support from Bush’s entire administration. (This was not a red flag?) SNL opened its post-election show with a funeral song, which, according to my journalist friend in the midwest, was the hardest Republicans had laughed at SNL in years.
This is not to say that there isn’t racist, sexist and homophobic TV everywhere else. I have a feeling CBS’s Monday Night block is just gay joke followed wife joke followed by latino joke ad infinitum. But the problem is these centrist TV shows who once sprayed cannon fodder at all politicians have now started speaking like America does not.
Donald Trump even called it out, saying SNL was one-sided. The answer from the left (or center) was that conservative comedy sucked. (And it does.) But this misses the entire point. There’s not supposed to be conservative or liberal comedy. There’s supposed to just be “comedy.” How soon we forget that both Gore and Bush watched SNL episodes of their debate where they each got eviscerated and made adjustments accordingly? Followed by SNL making fun of their adjustments.
Is it comedy's fault that Hillary lost? Every single show will say no, which is a hip answer. Go ahead and read this in John Oliver's English brogue: "Oh no, of course not, we are a comedy show on the same network as naked barbarians hurling swords at scaly dragons."
But they could have helped. Most people thought "I'm With Her" was a horrible slogan. How do I know this? Because somebody in the DNC told me that everybody was pissed at her staff about it. "I'm With Her" is like saying, "I'm With Pepsi." And how stupid do you have to be to come up with a slogan that your candidate is not allowed to say? That's the point of a slogan.
All this isn't to say that people shouldn't be allowed a point of view. We need MORE feminism, we need MORE diversity. But comedy can't just be centrist Democrat white guys saying they're smarter than half of America and ignoring things they care about.
Because at the very least, they'll turn you off and watch someone else.