5 Awful (But Revealing) Examples Of Conservative Comedy
A lot of people aren't very familiar with conservative comedy. That's because it's usually indistinguishable from ordinary racism or belligerence, but there are conservatives out there trying to be funny. This is an article about how and why it never works. Conservative politics are fine for squeezing a couple extra years of activity out of an incurious elderly brain, but they're not a great inspiration for art.
Real quick: If you're a conservative yourself, hi! I'm concerned you're not going to take this well, and that you'll be tempted to lash out in the comments section. Please keep in mind that your people's sense of humor is on trial here, and cranky insults and wild hypocrisy theories are only going to make me the grand champion of being right. "I'm funny too" is the one hill your Reddit-honed but pussy-drying debate skills can never conquer. So anyway, sorry to open the article by putting you in checkmate. I'm also sorry to my future self, who just burst through a portal to insist this paragraph had no effect whatsoever. Well, Tomorrow Me may have given up on your ability to learn shame, you garbage troll fucks, but not Today Me. Today Me believes in you.
Elect Me If I'm Wrong: A Collection Of Conservative Comedy
Let's just get this out of the way: You already knew conservatives weren't funny for obvious, common-sense reasons. There's been research done on the subject, and it all concludes that outside of inventing reasons to kill the poor, conservatives aren't creative. For instance, you might have seen a "well, technically" nerd hold up a mug of leftist tears after something bad happens in the world. That's legally a "joke," but it's also some basic bitch shit. Smugly endorsing comedy written by a mug salesman is for people who unironically clip Marmaduke cartoons or say, "Oh, I can already tell this is going to be good!" when they open greeting cards.
Aside from their artless brains and empty souls, conservative creators have another big problem. They're anti-other, not pro-whimsy. And if the appeal of a joke is how much it bothers someone, that's more of a coping mechanism for being an unlikable failure than a comedy technique. To help illustrate my point, here is a book called Elect Me If I'm Wrong: A COLLECTION OF CONSERVATIVE COMEDY by Michael P. Westhead. Michael has put together 72 pages of material so cluelessly unfunny and belligerent that I must assure you I'm not making him up.
This is the very first joke from the very first chapter, and it really sets the tone for the book. He suggests Obama is a communist -- which is a bit of a stretch, since he was the leader of an entirely different system of government for eight years -- but instead of giving the explanation promised in the setup, he makes a smile-melting, desperate pun. Just a clumsy, English-as-a-third-language diarrhea of letters. It's important to me that you understand how horribly this fails in every aspect of joke writing. Michael P. Westhead has the kind of sense of humor that makes people say, "Thank you, but even if we accepted unsolicited material, your work is not up to the standards of Laffy Taffy. Now as Pac-Man might say, good BYTE, sir."
You don't normally end a punchline with a question mark, but even Michael wasn't sure about this one. It's like he was staring at the words and thinking, "Why would Obama want someone to hold on? Could he be STALIN? No no, I already nailed him on the communist stuff. Note: Circle back to this later, but what if fart?"
I personally love this joke because if you're trying to prove something as subjective as "This person is incompetent at writing comedy," it's hard to find a better example than a sudden digression mid-punchline to an unrelated retelling of the world's oldest fart joke. Michael is worse at writing jokes than maybe a pants poop?
This one won't make any sense until you find out it's from a chapter called "Democrats are so stupid." Seriously. It's closer to a line from a serial killer's manifesto than a punchline, and it really shows the depth of Michael's imagination. He had to find something that "spreads," and decided on "germs." That's the top answer on a dull Family Feud survey, not wit. I can't believe this dumb asshole accidentally invented my favorite new joke structure of just forgetting what's going on and possibly some fart?
This is another great one from the "Democrats are so stupid" chapter. Michael attributes a lot of non-political character flaws to the Democratic Party, and even if you're on board for the premise of all those tax-evading Democrats, what the shit is that punchline? They evade jail like OJ, except not later when he commits a different crime? That's less elegant than asking yourself about farts in the middle of writing a joke. I mean, if you're going to force a 20-year-old reference, why not say they evade paying their taxes like OJ's ex-wife dodges knives (she was eventually murdered)?
It's hard to tell, given the nature of Michael's shortcomings, but I don't think all the lines in this book are jokes. Some of them seem to be unfinished thoughts he forgot to delete. How hard is it to proofread a few pages of jokes before sending them to the publisher? return swim trunks finish Cracked article research penis reduction pills to see if real
This joke is the "Pro-Life" chapter in its entirety. I guess Michael decided he nailed it with this first one. It doesn't work as comedy, but perfectly demonstrates the right-wing approach to it. A conservative mistakes intentional wrongness for cleverness, and then mistakes that for a dunk. Telling a liberal you're pro-choice only technically NOT because of third-grade wordplay isn't a win; it's deliberately being stupid so people will think you're fucking stupid. Is the joke on the people who assume you're confused, or the people who assume you were molested by your debate coach? Because this isn't mere stupidity. This kind of contempt for logic and persuasion has a dark origin story. Or to put it in terms Michael would understand, his development was arrested by a terrible Barack O-Trauma.
"You'd need a ladder?" Bitch, did you say I'd need a ladder? In the entirety of the human experience, the funniest thing you could think of to use to access something large was a ladder? There's no lazier version of this joke, Michael. This is the first thing to occur to the most pedestrian of minds. Michael, a list of all the ways this fails at even the most basic standards of comedy would be so big it would touch both sides of your debate coach's gaping asshole. I hate you so much, you probably-molested hack.
This is a fascinating look inside Michael's mind. He knew there was something funny about the idea of an object being so big that it would take a long time to transport, but he couldn't figure out a way to make it coherent. The fact that he decided on "a moving company," except a needlessly specific one solely to add a non-comically-exaggerated period of time ... it's stunning. Such clinically humorless madness shouldn't have even been possible during the comedy writing process. This is like saying, "A large document? There's got to be a joke there!" and typing "WEDNESDAY, FORGOTTEN GRAVE OF UNKNOWN CHILD, LOAF OF BREAD."
I'm not done, because Michael didn't stop at that scientifically fascinating failure of a punchline. He complained about how the circumstances weren't ideal for his much better punchline -- a waste disposal service struggling to move the tax code! It's not only not a better joke, but he could have made it anyway! The first joke was forcing the reader to picture two movers, with no reason to move a tall stack of paper, having trouble moving a tall stack of paper. What the shit disrupts that premise if they're taking it to the dump? Why not hit backspace and use the better, but absolutely not actually better, line? You insecure sadness machine, you're so bad at this that it's time for maybe fart callback again?
So Michael, the joke here is that the stack of paper has entered a fitness program, and your elegant pop culture reference of "Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser" can't help it lose weight? Because it's so big!? That's both not a joke and an explanation of the joke all in one. You talentless fuck, why did you try to be a political comedian if you don't put politics in your comedy? Listen, if the tax code is made out of Democrat bureaucracy, it would lose weight by cutting taxes and regulations, right? Shouldn't its trainer be a paper shredder or an anti-regulation Congress person? Or better yet, let's not enroll the stack of paper in a weight loss program for reasons any stray thought can provide. Where did that even come from? Are you dating a fat accountant and you promised to put one of her rambling dumbass dreams into your shitty fucking book?
Gay jokes can be risky, but I think you did OK, Michael. I mean, it's the kind of wordplay you'd expect from a gorilla on his first day of sign language school, but you got through it without committing a hate crime. When I saw the words "openly gay," I figured you were going to adapt some Popsicle stick joke to be about a dude's butthole.
Yes, Michael. Something exactly like this. You cow-souled fuck. You bar trivia team name of a person.
Sometimes Michael abandons the riddle structure for little rants which gives us a penetrative look inside his writing process. Notice how he starts with the idea of something invasive being like a prostate exam. This is hack even for him, as a version of this joke was almost certainly told shortly after the first doctor put his finger up someone's ass. But it demonstrates the enthusiasm of his terrible brain that he looked at the words in that tired line and thought, "There's another joke here." His neurons limped meekly in the direction of two different schools of comedy, Gallagher and Family Circus, living up to the standards of neither. I wish I had a funnier way of putting it, but I just typed the meanest thing I've ever heard anyone say about anything.
Fuck you, Michael. Fuck the universe that made you. This is far beyond the failings of a limp mind. Did you maybe wish for a sense of humor on a cursed knife you found in a tomb? Does every one of your "jokes" seem to coincide with a tribe of First Nations people going extinct? I feel like I'm starting to sound crazy, but not as crazy as someone creating jokes this bad without dark magic.
Michael brings the homonym comedy like a dad who always forgets "cool" has a second meaning but also sometimes forgets his wife and son are gone. "I-I guess I'll heat Danny Phantom up for you ... since h-he's so cool, son. *sniff* Daddy misses you! D-daddy's sorry! Oh god, Daddy's so sorry for everything!"
Michael's chapter on Sarah Palin is three riddles about how he wants to have sex with her and an unrelated transcript of two Alzheimer's patients discussing Levi Johnston. It's worth bringing up how this book claims it will "give you ammo when dueling with democrats." So keep in mind that when Michael blurts out how much he likes Sarah Palin's tits and how well she fucks, he wants Republicans to use that to outsmart their political opponents. Man, I'd hate to be the helpless lib who suddenly learns a lonely, stupid man thinks about Levi Johnston selling cartoon balloons while he masturbates.
Dennis Miller, Babe
In 1978, a fishing boat came upon a feral man on an island who spoke no known language. The crew easily overpowered the man and locked him in a room with only a Betamax player and a tape labeled Giggle Cove's "All-Star" Laffs Volume VII. The man died almost instantly, but a mischief of rats crawled into his body and learned to mimic the sounds coming from the TV. You've probably already guessed this story's ending, but seven years later, police found the bones of a fishing boat crew being chewed on by what they believed to be a man. They named it "Dennis Miller."
Dennis Miller jokes are based almost entirely around timing and sarcastic nicknames. His punchlines are aimless words unrelated to joy, selected more for their hard k's and bouncy g's than their conceptual relation to the setup. For instance, a real Dennis Miller joke was "The place was emptier than an Oktoberfest in downtown Miami, babe." When you're done laughing, stop and think: How did that joke happen? Was that insanity of a punchline a last-minute replacement for "an Oingo Boingo encore" after he suddenly realized he was in fact opening for Oingo Boingo? Why Oktoberfest in Miami? Was he trying to pick a location that was specifically not German? Sober? Why name a seemingly random event and location? Why not name an event that would be comically unpleasant or unlikely, like a sushi bar in Topeka or a book club in Topeka or a clean penis in your momma?
My point is, Dennis Miller had questionable talent as a humorist before he started doing "conservative comedy." Once he became motivated by politics, he combined his word salad joke structure with right-wing talking points to create punchlines that needed to be explained both to the listener and the performer.
Let me show you what I mean. He has a routine about global warming wherein he takes global warming's side. He says he'll save the money he would have spent on sweaters to buy a rifle and kill a caribou. I'm not butchering that bit on purpose; that's the whole thing. He also talks about how global temperatures rising a few degrees isn't a big deal, since he'll just tell his grandkids they "moved to Phoenix or somethin'." That's what I mean by a joke having to be explained to the performer. Dennis. Babe. When the Earth's temperature goes up a few degrees, Florida is gone. That means your grandchildren will be way too busy battling displaced swamp people to listen to your bullshit Phoenix weather jokes. Those kinds of truthless jokes are like the weird sounds made by toddlers -- it's possible to find them funny, but part of you worries there's something medically wrong with that baby.
Conservatives have a shaky relationship with truth, which is arguably the most important component of comedy. If no one agrees on what's real, sarcasm is just a cranky person saying things wrong. You have to have a non-delusional take on reality, or you can't see when absurd things clash against it. Like how an Oreo "serving size" is far fewer cookies than a person eats. Or when a cat, an animal normally free from any schedule, hates Mondays. Or when your momma pretends she doesn't recognize the flavor of Oingo Boingo semen at a Miami Oktoberfest, babe. It's funny because in reality, that crusty, seven-fingered skank chugs the stuff. She writes expert reviews citing its saltiness and mouthfeel, Dennis. That's why it's hilarious when she's all, "Is this salad dressing?" I need you to understand, Dennis, the joke only works because everyone knows she is such an expert in Oingo Boingo semen that she can taste when band members are sick.
There obviously wasn't a whole lot of truth when Dennis said "Kierkegaard" or "Queequeg" while his head bobbed, but at least his old material didn't contain any troubling lies. Now that he's a full-fledged conservative, Dennis is making observations from the realm of delusion where Fox News is headquartered. In the '90s, a Dennis Miller audience might say, "It's strange how this joke assumes we've seen that particular Crispin Glover movie and know how many people attend Oktoberfest in downtown Miami." Today a Dennis Miller audience might say, "Holy shit, is this joke operating from the conceit that ICE is right for kidnapping Salvadoran babies?"
Like his political allies, Dennis Miller suffers from a deranged love of the Good Old Days. He fondly remembers when there were only six candy bars and it was legal to put lead in them and you were allowed to tell secretaries about your boner. He's confused by change, and like a plain sock and George Harrison's penguin, he channels that confusion into hauntingly nonsensical comparisons. He recently started producing spots for the radio called The Miller Minute -- and I should remind you I'm writing this from 2018 -- during which he reads jokeless tirades against things like the flimflammery of social media or the bloops and bleeps coming off all these whatsit devices. Imagine four seconds of "Now people are doing something called TWEETING!?" material stretched thinner than Oingo Boingo at a Tacoma taffy pull, Cha-Cha. It's hard to describe The Miller Minute, because it's precisely like something a coroner heard bubble out of Andy Rooney's corpse, except Dennis has taken all the fun out of that type of simile.
Dennis also has a podcast called The Dennis Miller Option, which one fair critic described as "an incoherent marvel." His references have almost no relevance to what he's talking about, even if he fully finishes a thought. It sounds like he's reading the remains of Trivial Pursuit cards Queequeg found washed up on the shore of Crispin Glover's Malibu beach house, babe. Listening to him explain why Trump isn't so bad using half-remembered references to Lana Turner movies might not help you understand his perspective, but it does carry with it the terrifying realization that all those Oingo Boingo jokes were fucking carefully written.
And Dennis isn't just creating bad audio for bad people; he's also writing bad words for the worst people. He has a column on the Nazi-adjacent site Breitbart called, and this is going to sound like I'm being a dick but it's really the actual name, "METHINKS." It is a master class in klutzy smugness. He makes "how come there's no WHITE entertainment television"-level observations broken up by so many cutesy (((parenthetical statements))) that it would look antisemitic even before you saw the URL, which is a joke I would have once thought overwritten and self-indulgently clever before my sense of humor was tortured to death by METHINKS.
This is truly such an unprecedented conflation of awful. Dennis Miller has a comedy column on Breitbart.com, and it's called "METHINKS." Nothing should ever be more unappealing than that. Maybe it's not as bad as Nazis, but if a Nazi said the words "Dennis Miller has a column on Breitbart called METHINKS" out loud, Anne Frank's entire family would have let out an audible disgusted groan. I have to be clear here: Dennis Miller's column is not fascist, but it definitely would have killed Anne Frank.
So this lazy, elderly hack is on his fourth decade of trying for cute and accidentally hitting obnoxious. If you Google his 60-second radio show, the only results are people making fun of it or having trouble believing it exists. His podcast is a nonsensical technical failure, his career-defining schtick is used as an insult against lazy comedians, and he has one of the lesser columns on a white supremacist website. So the next time someone argues that right-wing comedy has a chance, remind them that this man is easily the most successful conservative comic who will ever live.
Conservatives don't really have a clear philosophy or code of ethics other than "winning." You might have your own ideas on how that's inadequate, but let's focus on how it's bad for comedy. Let's create a political joke together. To start, we need something objectively insane that one side does. How about, I don't know, how Republicans want to win so hard that they will passionately vote for child predators. Roy Moore won't mean anything to future generations, but he liked dating underage girls, didn't seem too concerned about who knew it, and for a few days in 2017, it looked like he was going to be a Republican senator.
So now we have a target and we can decide on an angle. It might be funny to try to figure out why Republicans would choose Roy Moore as their leader. Maybe conservatives vote for child predators because it's the only way their sons will ever get laid? No, it's a bit dark, and we'd have to first establish how religious contrarians who hate women and sexuality as a policy aren't good at seduction. It's clunky. Let's try some wit instead of insults. How about "When you're a sex criminal and a campaigning senator, do you go door-to-door twice, or do you inform your neighbors of both during the same trip?" We're getting there, but we may be forgetting to account for the pushback from political opponents who will argue "Not ALL of us want to be led by child predators!" And it's true. Roy Moore, leering panty sniffer, wasn't representative of all Republicans. He was merely fully endorsed by the their National Committee and their leader, the actual president of the United States. You know what? Let's take a peek at how conservative cartoonist Ben Garrison handled a Roy Moore joke.
That nonsensical shit is what happens when your politics force you to take the side of a ... hold on, this can't be right ... child predator. Did you see how much fun we were having when we were writing jokes from the good side of history? We were going all different directions, being mean and silly an- oh! We could do a sketch wherein Roy Moore gets a job at a colonial doll store and can't concentrate because of all the sexy child toys! Sorry, I thought there was something there. The point is, when you are required to defend the indefensible, you spend all your time on myopic little arguments instead of hilarity. A conservative version of Roy Moore getting a job at a colonial doll store wouldn't be fun. It would be him selling dresses and accessories while his lawyer explains how it never occurred to his client to have intercourse with all the precious white dolls. To which Roy would add, "And before anybody calls me a racist, this guy's a Jew!" That's a fun reference to the time Roy Moore's wife proved he wasn't antisemitic by declaring that one of their attorneys ... WAS A JEW. Then, in a fun twist, no he wasn't. If you haven't figured it out by now, Roy Moore gives any comedian more material than they can handle. So let's take another look at how conservative cartoonist Ben Garrison handled it.
Hopefully you're starting to see why conservative comedy is hard, if not impossible. Like every time you're mocking things from the dumb side, Ben Garrison's comedy options were limited to calling everyone a liar, arguing how evil things are fine, or meekly insulting the other guys. None of those are very funny, and the best-case scenario is that they distract your audience from the premise of your own joke. I don't think there's a saying about how all great comics are unquestioning of their great leader, but if there was, Ben would make it his Twitter bio. And while he always, always has the wrong take on every single event, he sometimes nails it anyway. Like with this solid criticism of Hurricane Maria's humanitarian crisis:
The 1/2 Hour News Hour
You might have seen the embarrassing article that went viral a couple months ago about the need for a conservative Saturday Night Live. A grown man, Mike LaChance, came up with the idea of exactly SNL, only the guest hosts would be Tim Allen or one of the other four right-wing celebrities. He included some ideas for right-wing sketches, like "Lifestyles of the Rich and Democrat" and "Bernie Sanders hosts a radio show where he can't explain the historical failures of socialism to a single caller." Those are the kinds of pitches you bring to a meeting where the absolute worst thing you can hear is "Sounds good! Write 'em up!" Conservatives think they're in a "culture war," and this is what they're coming with: an article about an idea for a knockoff of a 43-year-old show. If that's a thought your brain is capable of forming, I don't like your chances in a culture war, Mike. I don't like your chances in a "Name the WBIQ Traffic Copter" contest. I honestly think you could die filling out a create-your-own-pasta card.
What's great about that robotic, uncreative idea is that it's not even original. In 2007, Fox News tried to do their own version of SNL's Weekend Update, and it went exactly the way you'd expect. The jokes on The 1/2 Hour News Hour ranged from "incompetent" to "propaganda with a laugh track." And, of course, it featured a Dennis Miller segment called "The Buck Starts Here." I do not take these words I'm about to speak lightly, but they were some of the worst things Dennis Miller has ever done. He complained about which Democratic politicians existed, only I'm already making it sound too funny. It was just a weird collection of pro-American words no one could make sense of, as if he added smirks to a U.S. citizenship test and then delivered it badly. It gives me great pleasure to hijack one of Dennis Miller's own Al Gore jokes to describe his performance during these segments: "I always feel I can see Arthur Murray footprints on the floor with [Dennis] ... like Professor Smith set the Lost in Space robot's simu-personality to 'crotchety.'" I don't have anything to add to that, other than to say that we lost a brilliant mind when the last person alive who would have gotten that joke passed away.
The 1/2 Hour News Hour had a kind of sadness to the gags. It's like you could tell the writers had been dreaming their whole lives to work on a major network comedy show, but ended up taking a gig where their audience was looking not to laugh, but to cling to a life raft of comforting ignorance. No matter how self-satisfied the anchors were when they delivered the lines, there was a subtext in every punchline that seemed to whisper, "The evil that men do lives after them, and though I yet live, my dream has died here in this studio of lies ... in the pages of this script so priggish." So here, brave readers, is a clip from The 1/2 Hour News Hour, "a show that delivers an hour's worth of news in 30 minutes or it's free" -- a tagline that never got a laugh, despite it being almost how you describe a pizza.
To understand why they can't make jokes, we need to understand how conservatives think. Conservatism's defining trait is a resistance to change. It's the same position many people throughout history have taken before dying evil and wrong, but there is some appeal to it. Like how you don't have to learn new things and you're always the best race. Unfortunately, when your top qualities are "dumb as shit" and "white," you don't have a good sense of what real problems are. You might even have to invent some, like billionaire-funded child actors coming for your guns or electorate-packing immigrants infesting your economy. You're one of the less fun forms of stupid, is the point. I don't think I even have a funny way out of this paragraph. We're all just very disappointed in you.
Not knowing which problems are real and rejecting information until it comes from proven liars with a motivation to lie is very bad for creating relatable comedy premises. Right-wing brains are trained for squeezing Hitler pegs through Hee Haw holes, not for mocking the absurdity of all these crazy pegs and holes. Let me show you what I mean. This is leading conservative comic and War on Christmas veteran Brad Stine.
Brad is a "stand-up comic," but for 27 minutes of that act, he doesn't tell a single joke. It's more like a crowd of Christians clapping for him while he creates an elaborate fiction in which they're oppressed. More than once, this fragile contraceptive sponge explains how brave he is for wishing people "Merry Christmas." I mean, he doesn't give a FUCK. He'll Christmas right in your face, imaginary bitch!
If you're an adult, should I really need to explain how Christmas is the name of our nation's most popular holiday? Aside from "By street law, you are now leader of our karate gang," it's hard to imagine a phrase I hear more often than "Merry Christmas." You whimpering cow, Christmas has its own aisle in every drug store. How have you convinced yourself, much less a packed theater, that dangerous pansies are plotting against your right to say its name? You've given yourself the right to be hostile because of someone who doesn't exist doing a thing no one will ever do. Maybe you're just fucking garbage?
This makes up the core appeal of the conservative fantasy: You have enemies everywhere, but you can defeat them simply by being bold enough to wear a red hat or say "Christmas" out loud. Right-wing thought is the Ready Player One of philosophy -- you create this elaborate world of fantastic bullshit around yourself where your ordinary whiteness suddenly becomes the most important trait a hero can have.
Brad claims his lack of mainstream success comes from a vast anti-conservative conspiracy, but it might be because he can't relate to anyone with the tiniest bit of self-awareness. When you consider "people offended by holiday names" not only to be actual people, but also an issue that needs to be discussed, I don't think your sense of outrage can be trusted around real problems. Compared to potentially Scroogey atheists, wouldn't airport traffic or Comcast customer support calls seem like a horde of skeletons ripping apart your wife?
And like all conservative funnymen, Brad won't shut up about political correctness. How is anyone expected to be funny when every word and viewpoint is offensive? It's frustrating because anyone with a TV or an internet connection could tell you how if you're funny, you get to say anything you want. If you personally think political correctness is stifling you, then good. Hang on to that feeling, you bitch-hearted coward. Society wrote those rules -- which again, don't actually exist -- for people like you, who can't be trusted. It's like how women say they don't like strange men complimenting them on their looks. Creeps complain that they're not allowed to even approach women anymore. Meanwhile, the rest of us are walking right up to them, establishing relationships in respectful ways, complimenting the shit out of their looks, and crushing ass in the Walgreens Christmas aisle. Hi, ladies.
Political correctness doesn't oppress truth-tellers, Brad Stine. It establishes a baseline of decency that only the laziest of assholes can't figure out. And jokes need it to be there if you want them to be even the tiniest bit outrageous. If I tell a slut to get in the kitchen, and that's the whole bit, she and everyone who hears it is right to hate me. But if I ask a lady to get in the holiday aisle for a 35-40 percent chance of climax, she and I are starting to really build something together. Hi again, ladies.
Support your favorite Cracked writers with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.
Follow us on Facebook. We're funny. We swear.