Feature

Is Obama caricature-proof?

Why comics are having a hard time lampooning the candidate

Late night talk show hosts and comics are having trouble making jokes about Democrat Barack Obama, said Bill Carter in The New York Times, and they say it's because “there is no comedic ‘take’ on him, nothing easy to turn to for an easy laugh, like allegations of Bill Clinton’s womanizing, or President Bush’s goofy bumbling or Al Gore’s robotic persona.”

Oh, come on, said Jaime Sneider in The Weekly Standard’s The Blog. “The notion that Obama hasn’t provided sufficient fodder” for late-night "comedy writers is laughable” at best. His faux campaign seal? “Talking about the price of arugula at Whole Foods”? It sounds like they’re more interested in good politics than good comedy.

That says more about the lack of “brains and nerves” on the part of the almost entirely white crew of late-night writers, said Ann Althouse in her blog, than it does about Obama. “The real explanation for the lack of jokes is some combination of the desire for Obama to win and the fear of seeming racist.”

If even comedy writers are afraid to make fun of the candidate, said Noam Scheiber in The New Republic’s The Stump blog, that’s bad news for Obama. “People tend to vote for a presidential candidate they feel personally comfortable with,” and if they can’t laugh at Obama, they "probably aren’t comfortable with him, period.”

Obama certainly shouldn't “want the ‘take’ on him to become that he’s so tightly wrapped, overcalculated, and circumspect,” said Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, that no one can make jokes about him. As a black candidate with “tender experience,” there’s good reason for him to want to look serious. But if it turns out there’s nothing funny about a President Obama, “it won’t be the economy that’s depressed. It will be the rest of us.”

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