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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Laugh Liberally

    Conservatives had, up until the 2006 midterm election, a stranglehold on US politics. They held the presidency and, for a while, both houses of Congress simultaneously. But in doing so, it may have cost them permanent dominion over another, equally important field of work: comedy.

    The rise of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is just the tip of the iceberg. Deep at the core of quality comedy lays a curiously liberal agenda. David Letterman chastised Bill O’Reilly on national television, Bill Maher routinely embarrasses his more conservative guests on HBO, and what about those Comedy Central demigods? They have been cited as key factors for a Democratic victory in 2006, alerting millions of viewers of the follies of the conservative politicians running this country.

    So how has the world of comedy come to be so darn left? Personally, I think a lot of the reasons have to do with timing. The rise of blogs, of YouTube, and of constant surveillance of our politicians on C-SPAN coincided with the height of conservative power. Shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report thrive off of the missteps of people in positions of authority, who, at the time of the shows’ emergence as comedic gold, happened to be conservatives. After 2006, some of the fun was taken out from under the wings of the late night talk shows, but the liberal ideals remained.

    Which leads to a second reason why comedy is mainly liberal. Conservatives are just funny people. Not funny like they tell good jokes, but funny in their beliefs. There are, for example, two possible reactions to someone saying ‘if we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat[ic] president.’ Either you can gasp in horror and express hatred towards this person (Ann Coulter), call them a sexist, an idiot, a cancer, other words not fit to print; or you can laugh. Not because what was said is funny, but because the person that is saying it actually believes it.

    Of course, not all humor is liberal in nature. Fox News’ Half Hour News Hour, a show made to mimic the Daily Show with a more conservative feel, lasted almost a full six months before it was canceled after just 15 episodes aired. One news channel gave the show a new slogan of ‘they deliver the jokes, you decide on whether to laugh.’ In truth, Fox News decides that for you in much the same way they decide their news: the show had a laugh track.

    No, liberals only lay claim to the good comedy. Blame it on ‘liberal Hollywood,’ but writers behind the best comedy programs (I’m thinking of The Office, 30 Rock, Family Guy, etc.) are liberals at heart.

    And the last reason why conservatives are left out of the joke is because most attempts at humor by conservatives are just painful. How about this try on the Half Hour News Hour: ‘A federal court ruled the White House must release suspected Al Qaeda agent Ali Al-Murri. Al-Murri says he just wanted to put all this behind him and return to flight school.’ When you cannot distinguish an attempt at conservative humor from what is repeated regularly on Fox’s other programming, chances are, something is not working.

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