bookbanner
CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

TWAIN-LIKE HUMOR

"that seems about as likely as Will Ferrell staging a one-man show that spoofs President Obama"

Will Farrell
Ever year, the Kennedy Center gives away a Mark Twain prize for American humor. The prize is meant to be an award for people who "impacted American life by using humor as Twain did, to skewer hypocrisy and injustice."

This year's recipient is... Will Farrell. Now whether you think Farrell is hilarious or not, it strains credulity to imagine how on earth he qualifies for this prize based on the stated conditions. I don't really care for his schtick, which is pretty one-note, but some people love him. The problem is, he's not a social commenter, he's not someone who skewers hypocrisy and injustice. He's not a satirist in any sense. He's a slapstick buffoon, and there's nothing wrong with that, it just isn't some lofty Twain-like social commenter.

Previous winners:
  • Richard Pryor
  • Jonathan Winters
  • Carl Reiner
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Bob Newhart
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Lorne Michaels
  • Steve Martin
  • Neil Simon
  • Billy Crystal
  • George Carlin
  • Bill Cosby (who rejected it twice in the past over Pryor's profanity)
  • Tina Fey
Now looking over that list, you can sense a few patterns. They're almost all hard left. They are all either established beloved figures by the left or trendy at the time of the award, and they are rarely anyone remotely like Mark Twain. Of the whole list, only Neil Simon and Bob Newhart really qualify as being Twain-like, although George Carlin tried. Most of them are pretty funny although I've never comprehended Whoopi Goldberg's fame and career. All I can figure is she had Oprah backing her and people felt sorry for her, or something.

But the left leaning part shouldn't surprise anyone. Not only are there very few really right-leaning comics of any significant career, but this is the Kennedy center, so they're going to tilt pretty hard left to begin with. You can tell by their last winner, Tina Fey who won for mocking Sarah Palin, as near as I can figure.

Farrell's win appears to be like Fey's: he did a one-man show attacking former President Bush called You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush. Kick the right target and you can be loved by the left's establishment - it got nominated for a Tony and an HBO special. I'm sure he was terribly witty and provocative in the show. Sure he was.

As the Washington Times piece notes:
Defenders of the Kennedy Center will claim the pickings are slim on the other side of the ideological divide. All the funny people are liberal because, at least one argument goes, humor is an inherently subversive medium. Progressives therefore thrive in comedy, while conservatives - defenders of the status quo - are stodgy and dull by nature.
But they're missing something critical. Since the dominant media, academic, political, and entertainment culture in America is left-leaning, then truly cutting-edge, provocative, and subversive comedy comes from the right. That means the Blue Collar Comedy tour, guys like Nick DiPaulo, they're the rebels, the ones challenging the establishment and fighting the system. They're fighting the man. If anyone really matches Twain's skewering of the absurd and hypocritical in our culture, its Matt and Trey Stone or Mike Judge and neither of those really fit the leftist template.

The left, defending the status quo, by definition is going to be more predictable, and stuck in a rut. Kick Bush, mock Rush Limbaugh, defend gays, attack Christians blah blah blah. The truth is, the establishment defends and lauds its own, and that's what the entertainment community has become.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home