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Old 11-05-2018, 04:59 AM
Asuka Asuka is online now
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"You can't be a Conservative and a Comedian" - What does this even mean?

I hear variations of this all the time (for clarification, you can replace conservative with right-wing or some other variation of that word) , "Conservative comedy isn't funny", "There's no such thing as a conservative comedian", "You can't get humor from being conservative". Hell there's an entire Cracked article about it./

The problem being this entire line of thinking completely collapses if you give it any sort of actual thought. Nobody actually defines what "Conservative Comedy" is besides pointing to political cartoons, conservative commentators who like to make (bad) jokes, and the fact that none of the late-night hosts are conservative. That Cracked article itself brings out two "facts" I often see trumpeted, that

A. Comedy is all about punching up, not punching down (Which doesn't make any sense, how much of comedy revolves around making fun of your spouse/friends/family?)

B. Conservatives aren't as creative as liberals, thus they can't be comedians (How does this mean conservatives can't be funny at all?)

Some of the funniest people in the world (at least to me) are what I've seen people deem "conservative" in the past, Norm MacDonald, Colin Quinn, and Jerry Seinfeld (we can argue about Seinfeld but all sorts of articles have called him a cranky old conservative over his hatred of political correctness) . Not to mention actual conservative comedians like Larry the Cable Guy, Adam Carolla, and Kevin James. You may not find them funny (I don't either) but they're still wildly successful.

I don't know why but it just bugs me so much people just throw that phrase out there without actually having any discussion about it.
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Old 11-05-2018, 06:27 AM
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One can certainly be both conservative and a comedian, but for me the issue seems to revolve around self-deprecation. In order to effectively convey the ridiculousness inherent in whatever the topic of your comedy is, you must be open in acknowledging that you are also capable of, and frequently guilty of, being ridiculous. And the comedians above (I admit I don't know much about Carolla, but the others) use self-deprecating humor to their advantage.

But there seems to be this strand in modern American conservatism that will tolerate no ridicule at all and will push back hard and brutally against any criticism, no matter how lighthearted. Consider the current Jeff Fortenberry debacle, in which a professor who "liked" on Facebook a picture of Fortenberry defaced with a pair of googly eyes and some fart jokes was threatened with over-the-top consequences. Had Fortenberry laughed it off - or riffed off the googly eyes thing - he'd have come out of it ahead. As it is, he looks like a humourless dickhead. And mocking others while refusing to accept mockery of one's own foibles will always make one come off as such.

In a similar vein, there seems to be this idea amongst such conservatives that any comedy that mocks them, even if it also mocks liberals, is inherently biased against them. SNL and The Daily Show have certainly never had any problem mocking Democrats, but in the same way some conservatives have created FoxNews as a safe news space and Conservapedia as a safe facts space, they somehow need to have safe comedy spaces "in the interest of balance" - and then we get crap like The 1/2 Hour News Hour, devoted primarily to heavy-duty bashing of liberal stereotypes, and Clint Eastwood talking to empty chairs.

Again, #notallconservatives. But there are a lot of them suffering from offensensitivity these days, and that lot certainly aren't funny.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:15 AM
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There aren't as many conservative comedians as liberal ones, and the ones that do exist mostly aren't very funny. Why that is is surely the subject of debate, but it's tough to dispute that it's true.

Now, conservatives aren't completely devoid of humor. One example that comes to mind is Jeff Foxworthy. But this, I think, gets to Gyrate's point about self-deprecation: Foxworthy's act consists of making fun of a group that he himself identifies with.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:23 AM
Ulfreida Ulfreida is online now
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Reagan was funny. Bush junior was funny too. I hated their politics but they both knew how to tell a joke.

Hitler wasn't.

See the difference? It's the difference between a conservative and a fascist. In the US, conservatives have become fascists. Fascists aren't funny to anyone except other fascists, because they mock people they have power over as a precursor to dispossessing, exiling, or rounding up, spraying with bullets and shoveling into trenches in the forest. Which isn't amusing.

Last edited by Ulfreida; 11-05-2018 at 07:24 AM.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:26 AM
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I'd go so far as to say there aren't any liberal comedians anymore. There aren't conservative ones either, but the realities of how the world works in recent years means they are all libertarians, or unfunny corporate comedians who think that saying the f-word and c-word are edgy(Sarah Silverman).
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:29 AM
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I'd go so far as to say there aren't any liberal comedians anymore. There aren't conservative ones either, but the realities of how the world works in recent years means they are all libertarians, or unfunny corporate comedians who think that saying the f-word and c-word are edgy(Sarah Silverman).
That's...an interesting thesis.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:34 AM
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Well when I think of comedians I think of George Carlin, Chris Rock, Lisa Lampanelli, Doug Stanhope, etc., and none of those guys are PC. I'd say politically correct comedian is an oxymoron unless you're specifically a PG comedian. Nothing is more tiresome than someone willing to be obscene but scared of offending anyone. And that's because obscenity isn't really offensive anymore, but some comedians use it as a crutch to make up for the fact that they are so not edgy. Sarah Silverman in particular actually thinks that "white fragility" is a problem for her viewers. I do like I Love You America, but not for the jokes, which are just tiresome. Her conversations with real people, much more interesting.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:36 AM
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I think it means comedy requires self awareness, a willingness to challenge existing viewpoints and introspection, things conservatives aren't known for.

Having said that there are a few funny ones. Nick dipaolo, also Greg gutfelds show on fox is funny.

But for the most part comedy is liberal and male.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:40 AM
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So all comedians are either libertarians or corporate whores because you don't like Sarah Silverman? I mean, I'm not particularly a fan of Silverman's brand of humor but I'm reluctant to see it as an indictment of the entire industry, and I certainly don't see how libertarianism fits in here.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:41 AM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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"Punching down" usually devolves into "You can't get good help anymore" and wife jokes. There's just something inherently loutish and unsporting about it. I'm sure Gallagher and the Greaseman think they're as funny as they ever were, but it just calls into question how funny they ever were to start with.

That said, despite my liberal impulses, one of my favorite writers is PJ O'Rourke. I seldom agree with him, but think he expresses himself wonderfully. He kind of peaked with PARLIAMENT OF WHORES and ALL THE TROUBLE IN THE WORLD, though.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by adaher View Post
I'd go so far as to say there aren't any liberal comedians anymore. There aren't conservative ones either, but the realities of how the world works in recent years means they are all libertarians, or unfunny corporate comedians who think that saying the f-word and c-word are edgy(Sarah Silverman).
I can't believe you just reduced Sarah Silverman to a "shock" comic. Seriously dude, she's one of the most intelligent comics out there. And her humor goes way beyond "fuck" or "cunt".
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:47 AM
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So all comedians are either libertarians or corporate whores because you don't like Sarah Silverman? I mean, I'm not particularly a fan of Silverman's brand of humor but I'm reluctant to see it as an indictment of the entire industry, and I certainly don't see how libertarianism fits in here.
I do like Sarah Silverman, actually, I just think she's funny in the same way that Seinfeld is funny. She's safe, but thinks she's edgy. Seinfeld is at least self aware enough to know where his wheelhouse is. Kathy Griffin has long suffered from the same delusion. Doesn't mean she's not entertaining. Although she unintentionally did something that was actually edgy and got what people get nowadays for that "sin".
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:49 AM
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I can't believe you just reduced Sarah Silverman to a "shock" comic. Seriously dude, she's one of the most intelligent comics out there. And her humor goes way beyond "fuck" or "cunt".
The humor is solid. I didn't attack her funniness. I attacked her tired attempts to be edgy while not offending anyone, which is not something that is actually possible. She actually plays it as safe as they come. There is literally nothing about her comedy that would offend or shock a modern audience. She's actually the opposite of shock comedy. If her comedy is as intelligent as you believe, and I think an argument can be made for that, she should embrace that part of her talent, rather than trying to be Doug Stanhope and failing.

Bill Maher is actually a lot edgier, and while a liberal on politics, is very much a libertarian when it comes to free speech and modern society's inability to take a joke.

Last edited by adaher; 11-05-2018 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:12 AM
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I seem to recall seeing a sketch involving Jesus (as played by Michael Weatherly) fingerbanging Silverman on a couch while calling her a "good little Jewish girl". I feel confident in placing such things outside the realm of "safe". But it's entirely possible that you're just seeing her less edgy stuff, in the same way that Bob Saget, who does an absolutely filthy line of stand-up comedy, was largely known by most people for doing anodyne jokes as filler between funny home videos.

However, I'm still not sure how this all translates to dividing all comedians into libertarians or unfunny corporate comedians.
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:18 AM
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In terms of his speaking style at his rallies, I have heard Donald Trump described as an insult comic. Like many of you, I find what he says appalling rather than funny, but it seems to work for those in his base.

And that makes me wonder how much of "You can't be a conservative and a comedian" really means "If you don't share a point of view with me, I won't find you funny."
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:56 AM
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In terms of his speaking style at his rallies, I have heard Donald Trump described as an insult comic. Like many of you, I find what he says appalling rather than funny, but it seems to work for those in his base.

And that makes me wonder how much of "You can't be a conservative and a comedian" really means "If you don't share a point of view with me, I won't find you funny."
Donald Trump is not an insult comic. He just juvenilely insults others, and he and his ilk think it is funny. It is the difference between Don Rickles and a schoolyard bully with his squad behind him yelling "Yur a turd!" at someone. The laughter in that case is not from the funniness of the "joke", but at the fact that they are getting away with it.
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:04 AM
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Franky, I firmly believe that ultra-liberals are likewise, humorless. I formed this opinion decades ago, when the headline of Mother Jones magazine was "The Simpsons is the death of satire." I was like, yikes, I really have to read this magazine and understand it. Now, I was always kinda conservative and right-wing, but this article may very well have hardened me. And I still find Mother Jones thought provoking and intellectually stimulating. But this article, yikes, basically it said that, because liberal thought by Marge and Lisa was mocked, The Simpsons had ruined everything.

Now Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah are definitely left-leaning, and I don't care for their politics, but they do poke mild fun at their own point of view from time to time. That makes them funny, and their message gets out and is useful.

A big problem with conservative comedy is, it has to be so broad, that you instantly know -- "Oh I know what this is, this is ironic for irony's sake." Take the film and play The Producers, the "Springtime for Hitler" song, that ends and the bad actor starts speaking, and suddenly, everyone "gets it." The joke being, that the joke is now on the producers. If the humor isn't ironic, and there's no producer to lose money on purpose ... who's the joke on?
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:06 AM
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Tucker Carlson is a brilliant political satirist. Case in point: https://youtu.be/jKUShNmEkaA?t=167
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:16 AM
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I can't believe you just reduced Sarah Silverman to a "shock" comic. Seriously dude, she's one of the most intelligent comics out there. And her humor goes way beyond "fuck" or "cunt".
Really? Which special would you recommend to see this side of her? To me she is a shock comic who isn't even that shocking and that's the only humor I've seen from her.
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:35 AM
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Really? Which special would you recommend to see this side of her? To me she is a shock comic who isn't even that shocking and that's the only humor I've seen from her.
Just watch her latest series on Hulu: "I Love You America"
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:53 AM
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Clearly you can be a conservative comedian because they exist and some of them are funny (although I would say many of them would describe themselves as "libertarian"). But what I think "Conservative comedy", that is comedy about conservative and right ring topics (which the good conservative comedians actually usually do very little of) is almost always not funny because it is almost always either:

1. Based on faulty premises of whatever Right Wing nonsense has circulated through their media.

2. Comedy of meanness. Comedy can be mean and being mean can be funny but it is a fine line that Conservative comedy usually misses.

3. Related to 3 Conservative comedy is almost always punching down with the only exception of comedy about Democrats or famous liberals.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:09 AM
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I've never heard Norm MacDonald talk politics, but apparently he's conservative and he's very funny. Jeff Foxworthy is funny, but the rest of the blue collar gang (Larry the Cable Guy, Ron White, Bill Engvall) are not great, in my opinion. However, my uber-liberal parents' favorite comedian is...Ron White. Those guys don't talk a lot of politics from what I've heard.

Any comedian whose shtick is primarily tied to politics is unfunny to me. Doesn't matter which side. Stephen Colbert is about as unfunny as it gets because that's all he can do. On the other side of the aisle, when Dennis Miller launches into politics he becomes equally unfunny.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:11 AM
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Huh. I would have always thought it was we have humor, they have anger and ne'er the twain shall meet.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:20 AM
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Donald Trump is not an insult comic. He just juvenilely insults others, and he and his ilk think it is funny. It is the difference between Don Rickles and a schoolyard bully with his squad behind him yelling "Yur a turd!" at someone. The laughter in that case is not from the funniness of the "joke", but at the fact that they are getting away with it.
Maybe they confuse Trump with Triumph, the insult dog.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:32 AM
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Be funny! Your politics will affect what you find funny. If you try to be liberal or conservative first, you will likely not be funny.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:34 AM
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There's a persistent sense of insecurity in what passes for modern American conservatism and it kills the funny utterly. I can picture redneck comedy in the sense of "them libruls think I'm dumb 'cause o' the way I talk, but I'm a lot wiser than they think", as opposed to redneck vindictiveness in the sense of "them libruls think I'm dumb 'cause o' the way I talk, so me 'n the boys are gonna get our rifles and Second Amendment us some payback." Much of what I see in so-called conservative humor these days has that threatening undercurrent.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:50 AM
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I think it means comedy requires self awareness, a willingness to challenge existing viewpoints and introspection, things conservatives aren't known for.

Having said that there are a few funny ones. Nick dipaolo, also Greg gutfelds show on fox is funny.

But for the most part comedy is liberal and male.
I don't think it's impossible for someone of a conservative bent to be a decent comedian. channel 97 on SiriusXM (Jeff & Larry's Comedy Roundup) airs plenty.

I think the problem is that- politically speaking- those in power or public roles who call themselves "conservative" are actually "regressives."
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Old 11-05-2018, 11:29 AM
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I think both Norm and Bill Burr have conservative tendencies. Burr definitely would be a social liberal but he's also very un-PC and very old-school in his sensibilities.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:05 PM
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Art and conservatism are, by and large, mutually exclusive. There are a few exceptions to the rule, naturally.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:37 PM
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Humor requires empathy, even if it is to upend expectations and go against the grain. Conservatism is built upon a lack of empathy, conservatives lack humor and have rage in its place.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:46 PM
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Lots of interesting ideas in this thread. Would only add that Much humour is essentially set theory, that is, drawing circles around “us” and “them,” even when “us” is everyone else and “them” is the guy who slips on a banana peel. It helps form solidarity especially and divisions. Sometimes these are smart and progressive, that is, binding disparate people together for causes that improve lives, and sometimes they are stupid and regressive, creating artificial divisions and serving narrow interests that hurt people.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:52 PM
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Now Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah are definitely left-leaning, and I don't care for their politics, but they do poke mild fun at their own point of view from time to time. That makes them funny, and their message gets out and is useful.

Seriously? Besides the occasional and safe self-deprecating joke, neither of them can make much fun of "their own side". They either fall flat (Noah) or don't even bother (Bee).

Compare Jon Stewart or John Oliver. Who do so.
Or Monty Python. Life of Brain is 2 hours of lampooning of leftist politics and is actually pretty easy on "establishment" figures, despite all the Pythons being very left wing at the time.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:53 PM
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Art and conservatism are, by and large, mutually exclusive.
Do tell.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:53 PM
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That said, despite my liberal impulses, one of my favorite writers is PJ O'Rourke. I seldom agree with him, but think he expresses himself wonderfully. He kind of peaked with PARLIAMENT OF WHORES and ALL THE TROUBLE IN THE WORLD, though.
I despised his politics, but the man was a hell of a good writer.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:56 PM
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I don't know why but it just bugs me so much people just throw that phrase out there without actually having any discussion about it.
I think this is controlling behaviour. The Left don't like people making fun of them.
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:02 PM
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Do tell.
Art and conservatism are, by and large, mutually exclusive. There are a few exceptions to the rule, naturally.
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:06 PM
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I've never heard Norm MacDonald talk politics, but apparently he's conservative and he's very funny. Jeff Foxworthy is funny, but the rest of the blue collar gang (Larry the Cable Guy, Ron White, Bill Engvall) are not great, in my opinion. However, my uber-liberal parents' favorite comedian is...Ron White. Those guys don't talk a lot of politics from what I've heard.

Any comedian whose shtick is primarily tied to politics is unfunny to me. Doesn't matter which side. Stephen Colbert is about as unfunny as it gets because that's all he can do. On the other side of the aisle, when Dennis Miller launches into politics he becomes equally unfunny.
In regards to Larry the Cable Guy, Ron White, Bill Engvall, and Jeff Foxworthy are they are admitted conservatives/Republicans or is everyone just assuming that based on the fact they are "redneck" comedians? (They all appeared on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour which was marketed to the blue collar "redneck" audience.)
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:13 PM
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Art and conservatism are, by and large, mutually exclusive. There are a few exceptions to the rule, naturally.
Even if this is true, it's not really useful to keep stating it without expanding on why it might be true.
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:26 PM
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I think this is controlling behaviour. The Left don't like people making fun of them.
Bullshit. I offer you this basic example:

Liberal version
Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
SPOILER:
A: One to change the bulb and another to write a book about how the bulb is exploiting the socket.


Conservative version
Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
SPOILER:
A: You mean femiNAZIS! Hyuk hyuk hyuk! What's the matter, cant take a joke?
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Last edited by Bryan Ekers; 11-05-2018 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:28 PM
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In regards to Larry the Cable Guy, Ron White, Bill Engvall, and Jeff Foxworthy are they are admitted conservatives/Republicans or is everyone just assuming that based on the fact they are "redneck" comedians? (They all appeared on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour which was marketed to the blue collar "redneck" audience.)
No idea. They show up on this list of conservative comedians, but I can't speak to the accuracy of the list. Or how they define "conservative."
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Old 11-05-2018, 03:29 PM
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Or Monty Python. Life of Brain is 2 hours of lampooning of leftist politics and is actually pretty easy on "establishment" figures, despite all the Pythons being very left wing at the time.
Eh? They do mock the leadership of different leftist groups (their splintering, the Loretta conversation, the crack suicide squad), but the vast majority of the movie is the lampooning of religion - I mean there was a reason it was banned in quite a few countries. And the establishment is seen as ineffectual and absolutely idiotic twits.

Now the point that they do mock the left is true, but a small portion of it.

Oh, and re: Samantha Bee, do you count her mockery against Bernie supporters as against her own side (granted Bernie supporters were against her side for a lot of 2016, but they occupy the left as well)? Because she did that quite a bit.
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Old 11-05-2018, 03:36 PM
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I find Ron White to be an extremely interesting example of someone who comes off as a loudmouth lout but has some really nonconformist stuff going on under the hood when you really listen to what he's saying. He has a bit where he proves to his cousin, I think it is, that even strapping manly men such as themselves are a little bit gay, and that's ground his target audience is not likely to be really comfortably standing on for very long. Of course, he follows it up with stuff like "Careful, this plate his hot," so maybe I'm just reading more into it than I should.

EDIT: FWIW, I suspect Ron's politics lean more to "libertarian" than traditional conservative. That's just a vibe I get from his act, and I'm fully aware that it is his act and thus should be taken with a grain of salt.

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Old 11-05-2018, 04:49 PM
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This is all very US-slanted (and why not?) so I'm not sure this UK observation fits in or will add anything. But hey....

There was a sea change 30 plus years ago in UK stand-up comedy. Before this the job of a comedian was basically to stand up on stage and say

My mother in law is so fat (etc)
Did you hear the one about the Pakistani (etc - and they likely would not have said "Pakistani")
There was an Irishman, a Welshman and (etc)


And that was the act. This was absolutely the norm, and these (older) comedians were almost exclusively of the right. By which I mean, they were vocal in their support of Conservatives, but you could do some inferring from their subject matter also.

Almost in the blinking of an eye (as I recollect it) "alternative comedy" as it was called rendered them obsolete, with a anarchic, self mocking style rapidly morphing into personal storytelling. These (young) comedians were almost uniformly of the left.

There's a whole lot of generalisation in here to keep it short, but what I see if a generational change and a change in style which ushered in what we think of as "liberal" comedians. No doubt this had something to do with Thatcher, but I had always assumed that there was something similar (if less dramatic) in the history of comedy in the US. Right or wrong?

j

PS: There were good - nay, great - older ones too. Peter Cook, Dave Allen, Spike ......
  #44  
Old 11-05-2018, 04:57 PM
Treppenwitz Treppenwitz is offline
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PPS - I've posted this before. Bernard Righton takes the piss out of the dinosaur comics of the 1970s:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxFqv1QDI3Q

j
  #45  
Old 11-05-2018, 04:59 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Even if this is true, it's not really useful to keep stating it without expanding on why it might be true.
One factor (among others) is probably that artists score higher on openness to experience, which is correlated with political liberalism.

I'd assume another is that being an artist means you are exposed to a lot of out-groups and counterculture types.

Having said that, Johnny Ramone was very conservative.
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Old 11-05-2018, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Horatio Hellpop
That said, despite my liberal impulses, one of my favorite writers is PJ O'Rourke. I seldom agree with him, but think he expresses himself wonderfully. He kind of peaked with PARLIAMENT OF WHORES and ALL THE TROUBLE IN THE WORLD, though.
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Originally Posted by Penfeather View Post
I despised his politics, but the man was a hell of a good writer.
Odd thing is, compared with today's Republican Party, O'Rourke isn't that conservative anymore. He has nothing in common with the religious right and conspiracy-monger factions that now dominate the GOP. At best, he's somewhat right-of-center.
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  #47  
Old 11-05-2018, 05:43 PM
CelticKnot CelticKnot is offline
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Owen Benjamin. Frequent sidekick to Steven Crowder.

It's quite simple. People who are defined by their point of view don't like to see it lampooned.

Since politics have devolved into "I'm right and you're evil," there's nothing that can be joked about that won't make those holding the opposite view uncomfortable.

If I see all your jokes as personal insults or based on lies, I won't laugh at them. And vice versa.
  #48  
Old 11-05-2018, 05:47 PM
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Art and conservatism are, by and large, mutually exclusive. There are a few exceptions to the rule, naturally.
You're just repeating what you said, which is simply wrong. History is replete with monarchs, potentates, and rich people commissioning art, right from antiquity through to the present day. Even the much-maligned Koch brothers sponsor art - one is apparently a significant collector per the BBC. Now, I'll grant you that Trump likely hasn't a clue. Here in the UK Sir Michael Hintze is a billionaire Tory donor and a major sponsor of the arts.

It's stupid, ignorant, and easily disproven statements like yours which make Trump look good.
  #49  
Old 11-05-2018, 07:02 PM
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Odd thing is, compared with today's Republican Party, O'Rourke isn't that conservative anymore. He has nothing in common with the religious right and conspiracy-monger factions that now dominate the GOP. At best, he's somewhat right-of-center.
I could swear that he was a Fellow at the Cato Institute and identified as a Libertarian (aka "A Republican who likes drugs.")
  #50  
Old 11-05-2018, 08:15 PM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is offline
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Originally Posted by NDP View Post
Odd thing is, compared with today's Republican Party, O'Rourke isn't that conservative anymore. He has nothing in common with the religious right and conspiracy-monger factions that now dominate the GOP. At best, he's somewhat right-of-center.
Yes. He supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, declaring that she was wrong on all the issues, but "wrong within normal parameters".
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