Comedians slow to take jabs at Obama, but gloves are off now
Obama’s laid-back demeanor, and race, make him a tough mark. But comedians are starting to find ways to poke the president.
Not too long after the Obama inauguration, comedian Bill Maher got groans from his audience when he called President Obama "a black cat in the White House." A few months later, he got a few chuckles with the line: "Everything was going well for the beer summit until [white] officer Crowley drove up to the White House, got out, and tossed Obama the keys...."Skip to next paragraph
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It's been a long time coming, say comedians and political scientists. Nine months after the presidential inauguration, comedians are finally cracking jokes about Obama – and audiences are laughing.
"Usually, presidents and national candidates make easy targets," says Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political communication at George Mason University in Washington. "With the womanizing Bill Clinton, the wooden Al Gore, the Hamlet-style indecisiveness of John Kerry, the inexperienced George W. Bush, the clueless Sarah Palin, and the Machiavellian Dick Cheney, the jokes practically write themselves."
But Obama, with his laid-back demeanor and studied coolness, has been a tough mark. "He just doesn't lend himself to ridicule as easily as did his predecessors," says Mr. Farnsworth. "In addition, comics have worried that any humor directed at Obama could have been seen as having racial overtones. So they have been cautious, and cautious comedians tend not to be all that funny."
"There are those on the right who are angry. They think that I am turning this great country into something that resembles the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany," said Mr. Armisen, mimicking Obama's staccato delivery. "But that is just not the case. Because when you look at my record, it's very clear what I've done so far ... and that is nothing. Nada."
Armisen then went over a report card on Obama's campaign promises from healthcare reform to closing Guantánamo Bay prison. "Looking at this [report card,]" said Armisen/Obama, "I'm seeing two large accomplishments: Jack and Squat."