Conservatives Aren’t Funny

Conservatives Aren’t Funny

Don’t get mad at me. If Christopher Hitchens can say women aren’t funny and continue to get book deals, then I can say that. Where’s my proof? You only need to go as far as Mike Huckabee’s Twitter feed to really stare down the barrel of this particular gun.

Hilarious. This is a dad joke if your dad had the type of parenting skills that eventually led to you killing a dog. Now, please hold your sides as I provide another breath-gasping thigh-slapping Comedy-Tweet-O-Rama:

Nice ratio, Mike. Yes, I’m cheating by providing only one guy as an example. I could provide more examples, but I’m not going to. I’m using the same white privilege that internet trolls use so that I can be lazy and use a really limited sample space to prove my point.

Truly, it’s not really Conservatives fault that they’re not funny. Comedy delivered from a supposed perch of privilege is hard to make work. Comedy works best when the target is a higher-up needing to be taken down, where the ideals of the joke are anchored in a desire for balance in the face of an injustice. Punching down on the less fortunate than you is really hard to market. The good Governor in his tweets is not suffering anything. And he has never suffered anything in his life outside of losing the 2016 Iowa caucuses to Ted Cruz. Imagine being so horrible a human being that you lost to Ted Cruz. Given the nature of where he finds his comedy, I’m pretty sure he was soothed by giggling at the word “caucuses”.

Conservatives really want to be comedians, so much so that they have tried time-and-time again to do it. It hardly ever works. Insult and put-down comedy have had their successes (Don Rickles, Bobby Slayton, Lisa Lampanelli) but even those wins have a very specific range. But many capital-C Conservative on Twitter see the comedic accomplishments that their left-leaning colleagues enjoy and try it themselves. It turns out about as good as Woke-A-Cola™.

This is not stopping Fox News from trying, sending their host Greg Gutfeld to host his own show ‘Gutfeld!’ that premiered April 5th, 2021. The slogan for the show is “Cancel Culture Just Got Cancelled” which is not just tempting Fate, but slapping it in the face and smiling afterward.

I watched his opening monologue, the beginning of his soon-to-be amazing show. I thought about it all week, and what stuck with me was just the poor quality of it. This was Gutfeld’s opener, his ‘Announce Your Presence with Authority’ moment. Was it good? No. It was bad. It was Woke-A-Cola™ bad.

But the problem is, not unlike Gutfeld’s obnoxious prattlings, this is just my opinion. So, if I was going to call it “bad”, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just hating it because I disagree with Gutfeld and everything that he and his democracy-eroding media platform subscribe to. Unlike Fox News, I want to be rational and measured about this and somehow let the facts of this prove the point. I had no idea how to derive some calculus around this to validate the thesis. Then I realized that Gutfeld had a studio audience.

As a comedian myself, I have some idea on judging the quality of jokes and joke constructs. Typically the judgement I pass is “Welp, that one’s a boner.” One of the tools I use to calculate the quality of a joke is to analyze the number of words between audience laughs, and the payoff of the laughs themselves.
So, let’s do that, then.

I am going to go joke-by-joke through Greg Gutfeld’s opening monologue and break down each one counting and rating the laughs of the audience. This way I can judge the quality of each joke by the audience response. Remember, this is his audience in both senses of the word. They weren’t sitting in a comedy club not knowing that Gutfeld was on the show. He didn’t appear at an ambush open mic where people just want to eat wings and watch the Raptors lose. These people ordered tickets online, braved the COVID elements to come to the studio and sat there watching their new late-night idol. Did they have a good time? If you want, you can watch it here and see for yourself.

So, let’s get down to it. Let’s math the shit out of his monologue:

“All right, here we are again, a brand-new show and a brand-new Greg. I'm as giddy as Kamala Harris explaining kids in cages…”

This first joke does everything that it’s supposed to. It introduces the show, introduces him, addresses the crowd, and starts off by mispronouncing Vice President Harris’s name. Off to a running start. The crowd’s into it so far.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 4

“…Or Woody Allen hearing about kids in cages. “

Yay! Not even 15 seconds in and a hack Woody Allen joke has hit the floor. That’ll show those film-loving Libs! The truth is, we all think what Woody Allen has done is atrocious, and what he did had nothing to do with children in cages. It does have everything to do with children already bound to him through adoption. The audience kind of agreed with this and gave this effort a half-hearted laugh.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 3

“If you've been watching “The GG Show” on Saturdays, welcome. If you love “The Five” and felt the need for more Gee Gee, that's awesome. If you ended up here because you thought your TV was the microwave oven, it's good to see you, Mr. President. “

This is a pretty decent, if easy, ‘president-be-old’ joke. I like the misdirection and it’s his first actual applause break that he gets. Pretty promising since it’s close to the start of the show. Keep it rolling, Greg!
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 5

“Your pizza will be warm in two minutes and Hunter; he brought the extra cheese. “

I actually had to look up why this joke was supposed to be funny. Gutfeld’s audience appeared to be on top of it and enjoyed it slightly more than I did.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 3

“You all made a great choice. For proof over at MSNBC. Let's see what Brian Williams is up to right now.”

Uh oh.

[cuts away to a sketch where we have a news feed from the Mars rover]
[Brian Williams V.O.]

“Good evening, I'm Brian Williams and I am on Mars.
Yes, I jumped on a chopper and now I'm on Mars.
I've been here for a year now. I built a castle here made of mastodon carcasses and marshmallows. This is where I invented all the covid vaccines. As well as penicillin, the smartphone and Fluffernutter.”

This is worse than any of the sketches that the Right complains about on SNL. Brian Williams was on a chopper and flew to Mars. That’s it. That’s the joke. This premise made it out of the pitch room. The audience didn’t care. As the sketch progresses, they become more and more quiet, the opposite of what you want a sketch to do. You’re supposed to build to a roar, not a whimper. You can also see where they tried to include as many funny sounding nonsense words as possible to make this comedically credible. ‘Marshmallows’. ‘Fluffernutter’. It’s an attempt to use colourful comedic language that does not land.

This entire thing got two chuckles from the audience or paid staff. Five joke attempts here. Not one worked.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 1 (given for effort)

“Some things never change. Meanwhile, what's on CNN? “
[cuts away to a talking head panel show with two people captioned ‘Who’s More Racist?’]
“You, sir, are a racist.”
“No, I’m not”
“Racist, racist, racist”
“You are. You are.”
“White male racist.
“You’re the racist. “

The crowd liked this one, and I kind of agree. Good applause smattering throughout. If you’re a Conservative that’s tired of being called ‘racist’ (because you probably are) by CNN and have no idea how to change the channel on your TV, this joke definitely takes a swipe for you. Comedically, it’s actually a decent joke.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 4

“That's from the Don Lemon Hour. He reports the news with the same look your mother gave you when she found weed in your sock drawer.”

The problem with this joke is that it lacks credibility. I don’t believe that Greg’s mom ever caring enough about him to worry if he was taking drugs. Weak joke. A snicker from the audience.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 2

“As for those late-night shows we're supposed to compete against, why bother? Who do they offend? The only time Stephen Colbert ruffles feathers is in a pillow fight. “

Even Gutfeld’s soft-ball audience didn’t care for his hard-ball take on Colbert: a man who built his career mocking the person that Gutfeld is trying to be.
This was a moment of intellectual growth for a Fox News audience. Dead silence to this.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 0

“The definition of risk to Kimmel is dehydration from crying too much.”

After the rancid ‘pillow fight’ joke, the audience needed a laugh. So why not laugh at someone who cried over the life of their child. This just shows that the audience is equally morally bankrupt as Gutfeld’s writers. But they liked it.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 3

“Fallon, that guy fawns more than a herd of deer.”

Thud. This joke is still echoing in the studio. This joke is so bad, I checked the end credits of the show to see if Huckabee was one of the writers.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 0

“And I heard Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah ran off to be obscure together.”

“Take that, dudes way more better at this than I am!” The audience is once again left grasping for a joke after his ‘herd of deer’ created a singularity in the space-time continuum and sucked all the fun out of the studio.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 3

“So, let him be.
They got the market cornered in calling Americans stupid. To them, it was never about Trump, it's Trump voters. It's not about guns, but gun owners. It's not just about destroying statues, it's anyone who thinks math is real. It's not the issue, it's the easy targets, meaning you.
Me, I like bashing creeps in power, those stupid talking pinatas in politics, entertainment and especially the news media. Because they're all the same people. Or in Zuckerberg case, things that look like people.“

So now we’re steering towards Rant-ville where this whole chunk sounds like Gutfeld listened to the latest Tucker Carlson for line read references.
Even as a rant, this doesn’t make sense. His premise that he likes to “bash creeps in power”, but we know that Gutfeld has found it hard over the past five year to type out jokes while holding Trump’s balls in his hands.
There are literally no laughs from the audience in this entire passage until he hits the funny-sounding name of the guy they love to hate…until they need to plan an insurrection: “Zuckerberg”.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 1

“Also 'cause the only way they make money is by making people hate each other. It's not enough to say, “respectful disagreement makes less money”, you have to say it's racist.
That's why to them, Twitter is a news source. It created cancel culture, a crowdsourced version of a hit piece, a Go Fund Me page for character assassination. The press used to write these hit pieces themselves. Now they encourage steel cage matches so they can sell ads and ratings, repurposing tweets into click bait.
‘Cause it's profitable. Cancel culture is to the media when an ATM in the lobby of a casino is to an addicted gambler. It's democratized media destruction, putting a Joker mask on reality, declaring everything is not debatable, but their power is an illusion. Their numbers are small, it's just that their constant noise scares the hell out of corporations. Look what's happening to Delta, they're more scared of tweets than of birds flying into their engines.”

Okay, strap in.
There is literally nothing there to laugh at. And so many wasted premises that could have amounted to something. Anything.
“What if Twitter was an actual news source? What does that look like?” “How would the text of a GoFundMe page for character assassination read?” “Knowing the answer is ‘anything else’, what’s funnier than making a joke about birds flying into plane engines?” Delta’s Customer Service department are a veritable tar sands of punchlines. Also, learn to edit and look at what you got. That is a long way to go with zero laughs throughout. There was a snicker heard when he landed the ‘airplane-bird’ joke.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 1

“Which leads us to…”
[cut to sting: ‘This could very well be breaking news. At least to us.’]
“I just found out about this today.
Rob Manfred, the MLB Commissioner, said that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star game and the draft demonstrate our values as a sport. What's that mean to a sport Where stealing bases is a virtue?”

One of the easiest ways to hide a weak joke is to create a fabricated importance around it. In comes the “This Just In” theme music, the announcer-y voice over, the animated graphic. And what do we get for our troubles? A lame dad-joke-style pun about stealing bases. Seriously, is Huckabee using a nom-de-plume in the Writer’s Room?
It’s really lame word play, and thankfully the audience agreed. One snicker.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 1

“The sport that was racially segregated for 70 years, where they pretended no players were on steroids, even as their ballooning heads gave the Goodyear Blimp a complex.”

Goodyear Blimp joke? Oh, the humanity! He should have used that inaccurate punchline instead. Probably would have gotten a better response from the audience who also hated this joke.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 1

“At least their heads swelled from growth hormone, not a sense of self-importance. Clearly these cowards got spooked by activists manipulating the media.
Because how is voter ID immoral? Try picking up nail Polish remover in West Virginia without one. Don't ask me how I know.”

This literally got no laughs, which is weird because I assumed his audience would be all over this vaguely transphobic aside. He got nothing. Two joke opportunities, both squandered.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 0

“And remember the All-Star voting process allows fans to vote five times over a 24-hour period. That's ballot stuffing or in Chicago Election Day.”

This one got a wee snicker. Deservedly so, as it’s a nice use of the “…or as they say in fill-in-the-blank” format. I liked it, but I think the audience are starting to feel exhausted from listening to all this.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 2

“MLB lecturing us on values is, like me lecturing you on height.”

Okay, the crowd is wrong on this one. He’s actually showing vulnerability about his height. I thought he was only short on intellect, caring and empathy. Turns out Shorty here needs an apple box to get up in the face of the creeps in power that he’s bashing. I liked it. Crowd did not.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 1

“Meanwhile, the President, the president calls the Bill Jim Crow on steroids. Yet the so-called great unifier, is now flinging racial discord like Frisbees at a Phish show.”

The crowd kind of liked the drug reference. But now that weed is legal in a lot of places, Phish jokes are hack. Not as hack as Dave Matthews, but still…
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 3

“So, screw you MLB. Your stupid exhibition game is about as entertaining as a match of cornhole on ESPN at 3:00… AM in the morning,”

Two problems here. One, the redundancy of “3AM in the morning”. Secondly, his delivery was “3…AM in the morning”, like half-way through he forgot, “Oh! There’s more to this crap!” You could feel people going “Is there going to be a joke in that Sean Hannity-sized hole he put in the saying of that joke?” Zero audience response.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 0

“And screw Delta and screw Coke. In fact, screw all corporations, your stupid execs are cowards and bad golfers. You cheat on your taxes and you cheat on each other. I hope Dems raise the corporate tax to 99%. Except on Fox, which should be tax exempt.”

This one got a big reaction from the audience, which is hard to do when your mouth is stuffed with the Fox News teat crammed right in there. But still, looks like he’s ramping up to a big finish!
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 4

“Yeah. Maybe I'm turning Socialist, but after years of proclaiming corporations as engines of free markets, I realize their locomotives run by meth-heads who do anything to save their own hides. Its profit over people, no matter how many ‘inclusion coordinators’ they hire. They'll turn a blind eye to China, slave labour, knowing that adding a “Diversity Fun-Run” to whatever History Month currently celebrated will stoke the woke in Human Resources.
It's not a principled stand, it's the way of doing business. It's no different than a bodega putting up a BLM sign. So maybe their store will survive the demonstration. ‘Cause they're scared.
Well, it's time to return the favor. That's our job to scare the people who delight in scaring you. Sort of like an enforcer on a hockey team. But cuter, it's time to turn this one-way road into a two-way street. Think of it as part of Biden's infrastructure package, except it's real and it cost several trillion dollars less.”

The biggest rule in comedy is you always want to end strong. Okay, “Be funny” is probably bigger, but yeah, close strong. Now, I am not making anything up here when I say this. This. Entire. Rant. Got. Nothing.
The applause he got at the end was the “Oh, good. He’s finished.” kind. I’ve seen Jerry Springer “Final Thoughts” that got more laughs.And again, money left on the table. What does him turning into a Socialist look like for him? Can we look at the HR Lady organizing the Fun Run as a character? Are you brave enough to do an act-out in the bodega with a BLM sign?
This last joke is a replica of this monologue as a whole. Trying to be smart, failing intellectually, and not providing any jokes along the way. The audience clapped because the Floor Producer flashed the ‘Applause’ sign. He’s not smart enough to elicit a sense of intellectual connection or authority and not funny enough to bring laughs.
Audience Reaction Rating (Out of 5): 0

Now, after my calculations, with an overall average laugh rate of 0.4 out of 5 (because I believe math is real), it looks like Fox News has the best talk show we’ve seen since Chevy Chase sat behind a desk, also on Fox. Now, if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to put my feet up, crack open a Woke-A-Cola™ and wait for my book deal.

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