Utne Blogs > Politics

Whither Satire in the Age of Obama?

by Jake Mohan 


Tags: Politics, media, entertainment, comedy, Election 2008, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, television, satire, Daily Show, Jon Stewart, South Park, New Yorker, Politico, Time Magazine,

jon stewartAfter 9/11 we heard a lot about the death of irony, but after an initial period of mourning, humor prevailed and even thrived in the troubled early aughts.

But with the departure of the president who gave political satire its all-time easiest target, and the arrival of an unflappable and extremely popular president-elect, will practitioners of political satire run out of fodder?

Of course not. The Daily Show’s ascendancy coincided with Bush’s increasingly disastrous presidency, but Jon Stewart & Co. won’t suddenly be irrelevant just because Bush is. “Assuming the Daily Show can only be funny under someone like George W. Bush gives far too much credit to the outgoing President and is obscenely insulting to the writers of the Daily Show,” writes Matt Tobey on Comedy Central’s blog. “As if there wasn't plenty of failed Bush-based humor from shittier sources than the Daily Show.”

Meanwhile, the South Park boys pulled an all-nighter after the election to complete their extremely timely Wednesday broadcast, in which overzealous acolytes of Barack Obama see his victory as license to riot drunkenly in the streets, and Obama’s campaign team shows its true colors as an upscale band of jewel thieves a la Ocean’s Eleven.

These comedy institutions are bellwethers of the general categories into which Obama Humor will fall, at least for now: Poking fun at the extreme fervor of Obama’s supporters, and pointing up the absurd paranoia of Obama’s opposition (much like the New Yorker did all those months ago.)

The reliable Onion covers those satirical bases and more, with headlines like “International Con Man Barack Obama Leaves U.S. With $85 Million In Campaign Fundraising” and “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job”.

There’s also the hilarious animated video below, from Get Your War On creator David Rees, making the rounds. (Consider it a sequel to the New Yorker cover.)

And when Obama inevitably falls short of the astronomical expectations set for him, satirists will pounce. The Daily Show’s John Hodgman told Politico, “As much as the show is fake news, its soul is very sincere, borne of a desire that everyone shares, that we don’t want to be lied to. If there is a whiff of insincerity [Obama] will be taken to task.”

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.
jess_2
4/2/2009 2:59:06 AM

ACORN is thrilled that the House of Representatives did its part in the Obama foreclosure prevention plan and took action to lift the ban on judicial modifications for homeowners facing foreclosure. ACORN is not going to have many roots left once everyone figures out what they're up to. President Obama hasn't disclosed just how close he is to this organization, but it is known they have ties to John Podesta, his transition team chief. The group, along with the Center for Responsible Lending, along with protesting payday loans (quite the hypocrisy) has taken to occupying foreclosed homes that are owned by lower income people. Remember ACORN lobbied so hard to make companies lend subprime mortgages. They claim their acts of trespassing are a form of social protest, protesting the foreclosure of loans on people who can't pay them. Not an.... You can read more here: http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2009/03/27/acorn-self-help-obama-mortgage/


chelsey perkins_1
11/15/2008 10:00:08 AM

Another thing as well is that beyond Obama, there are still a lot of lying, silver-tongued politicians to poke fun at--and still plenty of ludicrous cable and network news coverage to highlight. Although Obama may prove to be a little (or a lot) less fun to parody, Washington will not let us down (or will?).


cally carswell
11/14/2008 2:39:56 PM

And while they try to figure out how to make Obama funny, comics can be thankful that Sarah Palin, perhaps the only person easier to make fun of than Bush, just refuses to leave the spotlight.


jake mohan
11/14/2008 11:02:09 AM

It's interesting--the jokes that bomb are the ones that seem to aim squarely at Obama, like the one Rickles told. The Daily Show tried a Bill Ayers joke the day after the election, and it didn't do so well. The jokes that succeed are the ones targeting Obama's supporters, his detractors, or racial stereotypes. I'm curious to see who will perpetrate the first really funny joke whose target is Obama.


hannah lobel_4
11/14/2008 9:42:55 AM

Eugene Robinson over at the Washington Post looks at whether audiences are ready yet to laugh at Obama by dissecting Don Rickles' bombed joke the other night on David Letterman: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13/AR2008111303349.html?wpisrc=newsletter