The humorlessness that makes “That is not funny” the tagline of today’s Progressives reminds me of laughter and communism in old Hollywood.
Late night television used to be funny. Both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno understood that it was their job to make tired Americans laugh at the end of a long work day. They further understood that this was best accomplished by poking gentle fun at everyone in the American public, across the political spectrum. Before he could to be a self-satisfied, obnoxious sexual harasser, even David Letterman also had a vague idea that he was getting paid to make people laugh.
The current crop of late night hosts, though, believe that their job is to politically indoctrinate their increasingly small audience. While they will occasionally stumble upon actual humor, most of the time they think it’s enough to insult Trump or his supporters (or, a decade ago, to insult Bush and his supporters). Their live audiences, made up of fellow travelers, reliably bray and clap whenever the host voices an insult, never mind that it’s invariably devoid of wit, insight, or any of the other hallmarks of humor.
Incidentally, humor, real humor, can be a potent way to insult a political opponent. Winston Churchill, of course, was a master of the art. When Harry S. Truman said of Churchill’s replacement, Clement Attlee, “He seems a modest sort of fellow,” Churchill’s response was swift, devastating, and funny: “He’s got a lot to be modest about.” Also once called Ramsay MacDonald “a sheep in sheep’s clothing.” And of course, when MP Bessie Braddock accused him of being drunk, he responded, “My dear, you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly.” Mean? Absolutely. But funny.
Today’s “comics,” though, tend to mire themselves in lines that are the intellectual equivalent of “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.” (A line that I find amusing only when I apply it to my small dog after outfitting him in ridiculous pinafores on cold days. He, because dogs are wonderful, always forgives me for the insult.)
It’s not just late-night comics, of course. Reams of articles have been written, and videos made, about the fact that comics have given up on American college campuses. The hyper-triggered, self-righteous, victim-mindset, Leftist students simply can’t take a joke.
I was discussing the decided lack of humor from the Left with a friend, and he commented appropriately enough that Communists have never been known for their humor. It makes sense. First, communism is all about raw power and nothing threatens power more than laughter. Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” makes that point perfectly, which explains why it’s been a part of the Western canon since 1837, when he first published it. [Read more…]