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White House offers comedy advice to Wanda Sykes

By Jimmy Orr / May 11, 2009

Comedian Wanda Sykes made two jokes about Rush Limbaugh on Saturday night which are receiving much media attention. The White House offered a light critique over one of Sykes' jokes.

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It happens at every White House Correspondents' dinner. Someone gets bent out of shape over something said in jest.

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Quite often it breaks down by party affiliation. The party that gets burned cries foul while those on the other side think the jokes were funny.

But in the case of one Rush Limbaugh joke, even the White House thinks comedian Wanda Sykes could have used a little more discretion.

"I think there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection rather than comedy. I think there's no doubt that 9/11 is part of that," Robert Gibbs said today at his briefing.

Jokes

The joke in question?

"Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails," Sykes said. "So you're saying, 'I hope America fails.' You're like, 'I don't care about people losing their homes, their jobs, our soldiers in Iraq.' He just wants the country to fail. To me, that's treason.

"He's not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker. But he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight."

Not everyone laughed at that joke. She recognized it and said, "Too much?"

If it was, that didn't stop her.

"Rush Limbaugh, I hope the country fails; I hope his kidneys fail, how about that?" she continued. "He needs a good waterboarding, that's what he needs."

It's a joke

Despite the White House admonition, she still has plenty of supporters. They say she was doing what comedians do. And they're right. Go see Jay Mohr some night. He makes Sykes look like Joel Osteen.

The difference, you could say, is that Mohr and other comedians play in clubs and aren't broadcast on C-SPAN. Right?

Our friend Yael Abouhalkah at the Kansas City Star doesn't buy that argument.

"Sykes wasn't joking about people being murdered by terrorists. She was comparing Limbaugh to a terrorist for his comments about the Obama administration.
"Over the top? Probably. Funny? To some, yes."

Response

Limbaugh did not formally respond to the comedian's remarks on his talk show today. But may have made an unintended reference.

Politico's Patrick Gavin points out some weirdness during his broadcast.

"There was, however, a mysterious moment during the show's final minutes, when Limbaugh interrupted a dialogue on fiscal policy and, in a statement seemingly directed at his prodding producer, said, 'How can they be running a response, when I didn't respond? Well, there isn't going to be a response!'"

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