Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chris Rock and Jon Stewart on Making fun of President Obama

A lot has been made about the difficulty comedians may have in making fun of President Obama. For some the insinuation is that comedians will take it easy on him because he is America's first Black President. He is also a 'Democratic' politician and most comedians tend to be left-leaning, though Bill Clinton was and still remains a comedy staple. These assumptions show an ignorance to comedy's tradition of irreverence and exposing politically incorrect truths.

Comedian Chris Rock on CNN offers why President Obama may be a difficult target
Chris Rock on making fun of Barack Obama
CHRIS ROCK: He's just one of those guys, you know, like Will Smith. There's no Will Smith jokes. There's no Brad Pitt jokes. You know, what are you going to say? "Ooh, you used to have sex with Jennifer Aniston. Now you have sex with Angelina Jolie. You're such a loser." What do you say? "Ooh, your movies are big. You make $20 million." There's nothing to say about Brad Pitt.

CNN: Why is Obama like that?

ROCK: It's like "Ooh, you're young and virile and you've got a beautiful wife and kids. You're the first African-American president." You know, what do you say?
Before the Election, Jon Stewart told Rolling Stone Magazine why he thinks Obama wouldn't be any harder for comedians to target
Rolling Stone Magazine: America's Anchors
RS: But wouldn't, say, a President Obama be harder to make fun of than these guys?

STEWART: Are you kidding?

COLBERT and STEWART in unison: His dad was a goat-herder!

STEWART: I'd rather make fun of somebody who is wearing their humble beginnings on their sleeve than somebody who has created a situation where casualties are involved. So the idea that somehow it's easier now -- it's not. Because right now it is a comic box lined with sadness.
If you're wondering how comedy's track record has been in handling President Obama and were wishing that some sort of thinktank tabulated all the jokes that were directed towards politicians last year. Well you're in luck friend.

The Center for Media and Public affairs at George Mason University created a listing for all Late Night Comedy's targets in 2008.
Late Night Joke Target Counts by Month
Tonight Show, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Daily Show and Colbert Report
January 1st through September 30, 2008
John McCain - 897 [jokes in total]
George W Bush - 805
Hillary Clinton - 641
Barack Obama - 531
Sarah Palin - 300
Based on their research The CMPA found:
The Comedy Campaign: The Role of Late-Night TV Shows in Campaign '08
· Presidential candidates appeared over 100 times on late-night TV, four times as often as in the 2004 campaign
· John McCain and his family appeared on more than 20 shows
· Jay Leno edged out Jon Stewart as the host with the most candidates as guests
· John McCain attracted 658 jokes from late-night comedians during the general election
· Barack Obama finished fourth in the joke race behind McCain, Sarah Palin, and George W Bush
· The GOP ticket was joked about four times as often as the Democratic ticket
· Republicans have attracted more jokes than Democrats in four straight elections
· Leno’s jokes were the most balanced between the parties; Letterman’s were the least balanced
- Find CMPAs archive of findings for the Presidential race; Election Watch 2008
- Download the Media Monitor PDF; The Comedy Campaign
- Read Punchline Magazine's take on the finding; Obama targeted in 769 jokes last year

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