Permalink to ‘Creating Oneness’ through Progressive Comedy

‘Creating Oneness’ through Progressive Comedy

 

Netroots Nation is an annual conference for online progressive activists. Over the past few days, the group held their ninth annual event in Detroit — America’s finest example of unchecked liberal policy.

Unbeknownst to the organizers, I attended the conference to see what the other side thinks about economics, education and the midterms. If their presentation on comedy is any guide, conservatives don’t have much to fear.

“The Left is supposed to be funnier than the Right, damn it,” the panel description stated. “So why do we so often sound in public like we’re stiltedly reading from a non-profit grant proposal?”

This defensive tone was apparent throughout the hour-plus session, brought up repeatedly by speakers and audience members. Much like a co-worker who doesn’t get anyone’s jokes but insists, “I have a great sense of humor!”

After futzing with computers for 10 minutes, the panel’s four comedians showed highlight reels, with one apologizing for the lack of audience laughs. (Her show was made for the web, you see, so it doesn’t have cues for laughter like television does.)

The crowd was most pleased with Russia Today’s Lee Camp, whose video mocked America’s regressive attitude on gays and oil drilling without noting he gets his paychecks from Vladimir Putin.

“Comedy creates oneness and that is what our side wants,” according to Julianna Forlano, host of a news parody without laughter cues called “Absurdity Today.” She noted how her stand-up performance even created “oneness” at a Pennsylvania Elks Lodge, despite the crowd being filled with racist men (she could tell they were racist from the animal heads displayed on the walls).

Katie Halper agreed with her fellow white comic that racism is endemic in their industry. “When the right says we have no sense of humor, it’s a great way for racist/sexist/homophobic men to make themselves seem funny.” Halper is a founding principal of Qualified Laughter, a production company “dedicated to comedic social justice media.”

Halper expressed concern that far too many comedians cross the line with offensive jokes. She listed several types of jokes that no one should tell; anything involving a “disenfranchised population” is off-limits.

Elon James White, creator of the web series “This Week in Blackness,” grudgingly admitted the obvious: “There is a segment of the left that is humorless.” He then lambasted African-American SNL writer Leslie Jones for telling jokes that invoked slavery.

Forlano agreed it is important not to tell jokes that reference ugly historical crimes, sexism or racism. “Sure, it might get a laugh — if that’s what you want.”

To ensure a joke isn’t unintentionally offensive, Forlano even recommended running it by a professional comedian first. Everyone on the panel agreed. “There is a difference between a comedian who covers politics,” she said, “and a comedian who is an activist.” Forlano prefers the latter.

The audience had several questions about what they were allowed to joke about and even how comedy works. A white septuagenarian proudly stated that she no longer tells jokes to black people because that might expose them to unwitting racism. Camp and White sadly noted that her preface of “I’m not a racist, but…” confirms that she is, in fact, a racist.

Another audience member asked how progressives can shut down funny, effective lines coming from the right on talk radio, blogs and Twitter. “The right has short, pithy things to say because they lie,” Halper replied.

She explained that clever jokes by conservatives aren’t actually funny because such people lack empathy and nuance. “Progressives are more nuanced, statistically speaking,” Halper said. The science is settled.

According to one audience member, “what makes Jon Stewart brilliant is that he only has to say the first line and the audience starts laughing because they already know the punchline.” There was general agreement that more young people should get their news from Stewart, Stephen Colbert and YouTube clips from the panelists.

As the session ended, audience members quickly walked toward the door. “Well, that was very funny,” a stone-faced woman said to a friend.

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Members have made 57 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of MLH Member
    MLH

    From Merriam-Webster online: 
    1 fun·ny adjective \ˈfə-nē\
    : causing laughter
    : odd or strange
    : not well : somewhat ill

    So, um, which are they? 

    • #1
    • July 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm
  2. Profile photo of Mark Wilson Member

    MLH:

    From Merriam-Webster online: 1 fun·ny adjective \ˈfə-nē\ : causing laughter : odd or strange : not well : somewhat ill

    So, um, which are they?

    See, this is an example of how “The right has short, pithy things to say because they lie.”

    • #2
    • July 19, 2014 at 4:13 pm
  3. Profile photo of Peter Wicks Member

    It’s a sad thing to encounter a person for whom “This is funny” really means “I approve of this message.” How much sadder it must be to be such a person.

    Two quotations on related themes. The first is from an old essay by Florence King:

    “The women-and-wit conundrum came to a head in a 1976 book called The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation by Janice Delaney, Mary Jane Lupton, and Emily Toth. In a chapter on menstruation jokes, this earnest trio came up with one of the finest oxymorons of all time: ‘We would like to think that feminism will help women develop a different sense of humor, one that is warm, loving, egalitarian, compassionate.’ That’s like telling people to have calm orgasms.”

    The second is from Peter Cook. When asked about his reasons for starting his nightclub featuring ‘satirical’ acts, The Establishment, Cook explained that he had been inspired by “Those wonderful Berlin cabarets which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War.”

    • #3
    • July 19, 2014 at 4:15 pm
  4. Profile photo of Mike Rapkoch Member

    Ha! Ha! Ha! By that I mean the Sandra Fluke picture. I’m guessing she hasn’t laughed since she was tickled at age 1. 

    But seriously. The science is settled, John. Leave it to the left to submit humor to statistics and sensitivity.

    • #4
    • July 19, 2014 at 4:17 pm
  5. Profile photo of Al Sparks Thatcher

    I read a biography of Gouverneur Morris, I think by Richard Brookheiser, a few years back. Morris was known for his ribald sense of humor. But the author also said that most, if not all the Founding Fathers were humorless. I don’t how he concluded that, but that assertion has always stuck with me, that people today’s conservatives generally admire and who many liberals don’t, didn’t have senses of humor.

    It’s ironic. I guess they were very serious men. Perhaps it’s the risks they took to found our country. Maybe revolutionaries, by their very nature are serious.

    I’d also say that the hard left would consider themselves revolutionaries, though they hardly are taking the same risks the Foundes were.

    • #5
    • July 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm
  6. Profile photo of MLH Member
    MLH

    Mark Wilson:

    MLH:

    From Merriam-Webster online: 1 fun·ny adjective \ˈfə-nē\ : causing laughter : odd or strange : not well : somewhat ill

    So, um, which are they?

    See, this is an example of how “The right has short, pithy things to say because they lie.”

     Touche’
    (Oops. There I go again.)

    • #6
    • July 19, 2014 at 4:55 pm
  7. Profile photo of Larry3435 Member

    “comedic social justice media.” Now that’s funny!

    • #7
    • July 19, 2014 at 4:58 pm
  8. Profile photo of Yeah...ok. Member

    I thought one of the advantages of ONLINE anything was the reduced possibility of going to places like Detroit.

    Jon, did you have to buy a ticket? How does one gain entrance to such an event?

    Most of my lies fail to produce laughter.

    • #8
    • July 19, 2014 at 5:10 pm
  9. Profile photo of Mike LaRoche Thatcher

    Larry3435:

    “comedic social justice media.” Now that’s funny!

     That sounds like it could be the title of a class at Patrice Lumumba University. Or Berkeley.

    • #9
    • July 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm
  10. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher

    Bad enough National Review assaults me with a photo of Barack Obama any time I visit their site. Now Ricochet is hitting us with Sandra Fluke. 

    Bear with me while I repeat a post from the grooveyard of forgotten favorites

    There was a young woman named Fluke
    Who ardently loved a good [CoC-non-compliant word]
    But she wouldn’t descend
    Her own money to spend
    Someone else with her tab should be stuck

    • #10
    • July 19, 2014 at 5:27 pm
  11. Profile photo of Susan in Seattle Member

    I hope that at least you got some decent swag.

    • #11
    • July 19, 2014 at 6:07 pm
  12. Profile photo of Vance Richards Member

    If this video came out of the Netroots conference, then I would say they know quite a bit about being funny.

    • #12
    • July 19, 2014 at 6:20 pm
  13. Profile photo of doc molloy Inactive

    According to one audience member, “what makes Jon Stewart brilliant is that he only has to say the first line and the audience starts laughing because they already know the punchline.”

    They’re programmed. Can’t they think for themselves and the answer in no because they are liberal/ progressive/ social justice/ cause prone ninnies.. “Progressives are more nuanced, statistically speaking,” That explains it.

    • #13
    • July 19, 2014 at 6:36 pm
  14. Profile photo of Edward Smith Inactive

    George Washington, perhaps more when he had his teeth out, because they really did cause him a lot of pain, loved a good joke.

    I suspect that John Adams had a sense of humor all his own, and that Thomas Jefferson might actually have appreciated it.

    • #14
    • July 19, 2014 at 6:41 pm
  15. Profile photo of Edward Smith Inactive

    NEVER, EVER POST A PICTURE OF SANDRA FLUKE ON THIS WEBSITE AGAIN!

    The lenses of my glasses are plastic and designed to be resilient, but cracks started to appear in them because they were forced to transmit that image.

    Luckily my eyes started to tear up they way they do when you you been cutting onions for an hour or so, so there was no permanent damage to my eyes.

    • #15
    • July 19, 2014 at 6:44 pm
  16. Profile photo of Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    “Comedy creates oneness and that is what our side wants”

    Um…If you’ve created ‘oneness’, there are no sides.

    • #16
    • July 19, 2014 at 6:46 pm
  17. Profile photo of MJBubba Member

    nuance.

    That is what keeps Ricochet going. The quest for nuance.

    • #17
    • July 19, 2014 at 7:53 pm
  18. Profile photo of doc molloy Inactive

    MJBubba:

    nuance.

    That is what keeps Ricochet going. The quest for nuance.

     Who knew nuance like I know nuance oh oh oh what a word..

    • #18
    • July 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm
  19. Profile photo of Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Edward Smith:

    NEVER, EVER POST A PICTURE OF SANDRA FLUKE ON THIS WEBSITE AGAIN!

    The lenses of my glasses are plastic and designed to be resilient, but cracks started to appear in them because they were forced to transmit that image.

    Luckily my eyes started to tear up they way they do when you you been cutting onions for an hour or so, so there was no permanent damage to my eyes.

     Oh, come now. She is not that bad looking. My first thought was, “She seems to have lost some weight.” And maybe she could use a less-saggy bra.

    • #19
    • July 19, 2014 at 8:27 pm
  20. Profile photo of Michael Stopa Podcaster

    Jon, great post! Great *topic* for a post…very thought provoking.

    Maybe not all of it but a lot of great humor is essentially cruel…from the Coyote chasing the Road Runner over a cliff to Monte Python and the Holy Grail (“blue….No YELLOW!”) you have to be comfortable with watching someone be smashed in order to laugh…just think of your favorite Helen Keller joke.

    But (as P.J. O’Rourke, one of our best, once noted) liberalism is sooo sanctimonious. They live the culture of victimhood. Maybe too many liberals have spent too much of their time being the butt of jokes (as adolescents, say) to ever really laugh a healthy laugh again.

    • #20
    • July 19, 2014 at 8:39 pm
  21. Profile photo of Mike LaRoche Thatcher

    Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

    A: That’s not funny!

    • #21
    • July 19, 2014 at 8:40 pm
  22. Profile photo of Al Sparks Thatcher

    Edward Smith

    NEVER, EVER POST A PICTURE OF SANDRA FLUKE ON THIS WEBSITE AGAIN

    I don’t watch that much T.V., so though I knew who Sandra Fluke was, I didn’t know what she looked like. I found the photo to be of an attractive woman. I also commend Jon for not taking a cheap shot in choosing a flattering photo of her.

    Too many times I’ll see unflattering photos of Hillary Clinton posted on conservative websites (Rush does that a lot). I think we should leave such tactics to the liberals. Especially since they are so obviously classless anyway.

    • #22
    • July 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm
  23. Profile photo of Paul DeRocco Member

    When you listen to Jon Stewart or Bill Maher, what’s striking is that their comedy frequently consists of expressions of an attitude that by itself wouldn’t have been considered funny not that long ago. Its humor derives from its trendiness. That’s one of the defining characteristics of the Left: ideological fashion. There’s nothing fashionable about holding to old principles like the Constitution, or ancient ones like Christianity, so there’s no ego payoff in expressing such ideas. But Leftists need to feel like they’re on the cutting edge, they’re in the know, hip to the latest jargon, and “comedy” is one of the means by which fashionability is communicated around the community. If they hear their friends laughing at things that had never previously seemed funny, they’ll learn to think of those things as funny, by subtly internalizing the moral premises that allow those things to seem funny. Jon Stewart’s recent routine about the Gaza conflict is a particularly creepy example. The faddishness is what allows reason and judgment to be effectively bypassed. The limbic system rules.

    • #23
    • July 19, 2014 at 10:04 pm
  24. Profile photo of Paul DeRocco Member

    I expect that that picture of Sandra Fluke conveys roughly the same feeling to her as it does to me. She looks like a woman who is just about to let loose a withering excoriation of some breach of progressive etiquette or political correctness. And whenever I’ve heard her in action, that seems to be her real persona. To me, it’s repellent; to her, it’s precisely how she wishes to appeal to the sort of people who find that sort of thing appealing.

    The left has more than its share of women like that. Kathleen Sibelius had some of the physical gifts to be a beautiful woman, yet she perpetually exudes the air of a functionary who is just about to close your business down over some infraction. Hillary Clinton always seemed like she was trying really hard to be charming, but was suppressing a vast reservoir of annoyance. And Nancy Pelosi’s personality is incomprehensible.

    I can think of a modest number of leftist men with attractive personalities and senses of humor (not including our President), but can anyone remind me of a leftist female public figure who isn’t annoying, if not utterly charmless?

    • #24
    • July 19, 2014 at 10:20 pm
  25. Profile photo of 1967mustangman Member

    Stewart and Colbert are not funny. Sorry they just aren’t. They are low brow humorists who go for the easy play which is only funny if you are willfully ignorant I have a post in the works about the funniest comedian on the left who I will submit is John Oliver. Perhaps Iwill get motivated and finish it tomorrow.

    • #25
    • July 19, 2014 at 10:59 pm
  26. Profile photo of Richard Fulmer Member

    Eustace C. Scrubb:

    “Comedy creates oneness and that is what our side wants”

    Um…If you’ve created ‘oneness’, there are no sides.

     That’s what they want.

    • #26
    • July 20, 2014 at 12:53 am
  27. Profile photo of Laconicus Inactive

    Jon merely wrote down what they said, deadpan style, and it reads like brilliant satire. Voltaire couldn’t have done any better, but he was presumably making his stuff up.

    • #27
    • July 20, 2014 at 1:16 am
  28. Profile photo of Lee Inactive
    Lee

    “Halper expressed concern that far too many comedians cross the line with offensive jokes. She listed several types of jokes that no one should tell; anything involving a “disenfranchised population” is off-limits.”

    Anyone claiming this should be mocked mercilessly. Not every joke is funny but no subject should be off limits. Comedy is as much social commentary as humor.

    • #28
    • July 20, 2014 at 5:17 am
  29. Profile photo of Edward Smith Inactive

    Al Sparks, I second Paul DeRocco.

    Sandra Fluke is the sort of woman who would be much more attractive if you never met her before, or heard about her, or heard her.

    Hers is the sort of face your mother warned you yours might freeze into. She froze deliberately. Which is sad for her. Fortunately, she is become the bit player she was meant to be.

    • #29
    • July 20, 2014 at 6:57 am
  30. Profile photo of Chris Campion Thatcher

    The obvious endgame for comedic social justice media is comedic social justice tacos.

    I read Jon’s post and thought “parody”. People are actually spending their time on this. If you’re looking for social justice, go volunteer at a soup kitchen. At least then you’ll be doing something practical, and you’ll get an eyeful of the reality of the systems progressives seem so intent on expanding.

    • #30
    • July 20, 2014 at 6:58 am
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