Making Fun of Barack Obama
My wife has been enjoying the recent skits about the Trump administration on Saturday Night Live. I can see why. Even Melissa McCarthy has managed to be funny in her impressions of Sean Spicer. Until now I would have sworn that reports of McCarthy having a sense of humor were some sort of urban legend. SNL has a long history of generating memorable Presidential impressions: Chevy Chase (sort of Gerald Ford), Dana Carvey (Bush the Elder) and Will Ferrell (Bush the Lesser) come to mind.
But poking fun at Presidents has a long and storied history, and is probably a good thing. I enjoy comedy a lot, and I can safely say that every President in my lifetime has been the butt of a lot of jokes. Well, every President but one. It seems to me that almost nobody made fun of Barack Obama.
I thought it was interesting, so I did some searching. I found this NY Post article which has a bit of commentary from SNL’s Jim Downey:
Yes, data nerds, there is empirical evidence that Barack Obama gets a free ride from comics.
In a new book, “Politics Is a Joke!” three academics tabulated 100,000 jokes told by late-night comics over the last 20 years. They found that in 2008 only 6% of the jokes were about Obama (Palin attracted nearly as many jokes in four months as a public figure as he did all year). And those jokes had a tendency to be about as barbed as cotton candy. Example cited by Tevi Troy in The Wall Street Journal: Jon Stewart said Obama visited Bethlehem so he could see “the manger where he was born.”
In every presidential campaign since 1992, the researchers found, comedians aimed more jokes at Republicans than they did at Democrats. Overall, twice as many barbs flew at the GOP.
“Our job is, whoever is in power, we’re opposed,” “SNL” chief Lorne Michaels told The New York Times in 2008. Agreed. And so they’ve been doing their job badly. Says who? Says . . . Downey.
Now that he has retired from the show and gained a little perspective, Downey comments in “Live from New York,” “I have to say, and even [Al] Franken agrees with me — I’ve talked to him about this — that the last couple seasons of the show were the only two in the show’s history where we were totally like every other comedy show: basically, an arm of the Hollywood Democratic establishment. . . . We just stopped doing anything which could even be misinterpreted as a criticism of Obama.”
But I don’t know if this is being deferential to the Democrats, or to Obama. After all, comedians had a lot of fun at the expense of Clinton, and Jimmy Carter before him.
Another possibility was raised by no less an expert than than Dana Carvey, namely that making fun of Obama is seen as not PC and possibly racist. I suspect there is something there. For instance, NPR carried an article with this title:
Portraying Obama As Chimp Not Like Showing Bush As One
Personally, I think that regardless of the reason making fun of Obama was off limits, the fact that people mostly didn’t do it wasn’t healthy. Humor, particularly at the expense of the ruling class, is a safety valve for dissatisfaction. The victories that Obama provided the American people were sparse and weak. They were not great or grand, and they provided no justification for treating a leader like a holy man. And unearned privilege does nothing more than generate resentment. I think it created an “emperor has no clothes” mentality in a substantial segment of the electorate, many of whom had previously voted for Mr. Obama. I think that in turn helped elect a successor whose campaign essentially came down to repudiating Obama and everything for which he stood.
Uh, Key&Peele? Isn’t that …. *iconic* humor lampooning Obama? An entire series of sketches about him? Also, y’know, there was such comedic gold in the Rs even when they were in opposition. Obama’s just a tougher target than Yertle the Turtle (to name one example).
” The victories that Obama provided the American people were sparse and weak. They were not great or grand, and they provided no justification for treating a leader like a holy man”
Yeah, the ADA was nothing much at all, certainly not something considered “great or grand victories provided to the American people”. Nothing like eliminating the institution of Slavery by Lincoln, or SS by Roosevelt, or Medicare by Johnson. Or keeping the worst financial crises since the Great Depression from becoming another one was nothing to write home about either.
Maybe StarWars defense spending by Reagan and his massive tax cuts to the wealthy were far more great and grand victories. After al Reagan single handedly brought down the USSR and saved the world from the Communist take-over and ascendency — with the minor exception of China…. worthy of treating him like a “holy man”. That and eliminating the welfare queens driving Cadillac’s puts him right up there with the Christian god…. or maybe just the 2nd coming.
A mundane President at best, right Mike?
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted”
Tonight something tragic has happened. The Senate under the bigoted and racist Senators Steve Daines and Mitch McConnell have had the audacity to rebukeand silence Senator Elizabeth Warren in a 49-43 party-line vote, rejecting Warren’s push to overturn a ruling by Senate Republicans that she had violated the rule 19 during a Senate floor speech.
And why was she rebuked??? Because she had the backbone to stand up to a Senate which chooses to place a bigot and racist in the position of US AG. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is just such a man.
Senator Elizabeth Warren chose to read Coretta Scott King’s letter of 30 years ago urging that Sessions not be confirmed as a federal judge because of his crusade against voting rights for people of color. By quoting what Coretta Scott King said about Sen. Sessions in 1986, Senator McConnell argues violated Senate Rule XIX. Was Coretta Scott King wrong? Is Senator Elizabeth Warren wrong to stop the bigot and racist Sessions by quoting Coretta Scott King?
The objections appear to be around letters and utterances of others such as King, whom Warren was quoting. In any other situation this would not be a problem: however with Sessions being a Senator, there is a Rule which says:
To you Mike, this is a crusade of some sort to block people of differences from entering this country of which 5%, 5% of the land mass is occupied. I do not know what your mission is. Others of far greater authority than I have challenged you on your posts and comments and yet you will not yield or cease when asked to do so. I have danced around this. I am just a simple man who happened to get an education while working with my hands.
This is not a joke or a time to be looking for differences as these people, the Trumps, McConnells, the Ryans, and Daines are looking for precisely such dispute amongst us and go out of their way to spread chaos. Barack Obama was opposed by bigots and racists while the president. Trump (and this could be your man) faces far less resistance than what Obama faced and has provoked more reasons for such than any president who has taken office.
My thoughts are such that you are spreading ill-will when we should be uniting against a serious threat to all of us. Rethink your stance as I find it counter-productive.
Really? This gets posted why? So you can express your alt fact that Obama was a terrible president? So you can whine about Hollywood supporting Democrats or suggest that because Obama was black he was privileged to be spared the ridicule that is heaped on poor, unprivileged white politicians?
Q: Why wouldn’t Obama release his medical records?
A: Because he’s never even run a fever.
Pardon me, Run, but aren’t you one of the contributors to this blog? Why, then, is your above comment HERE, and not it’s own article?
It serves its purpose where it is as of right now. I already wrote McConnell and Daines for their dastardly political maneuvers to shut down the truth.
It just keeps getting worse.
I guess the absolute comedy that the Rs put on 24/7 regarding Obama’s citizenship for eight years is not funny in Mike’s eyes.
Mike, Maybe Obama was just not supplying good material to exploit.
How could you leave out Dan Ackroyd as Jimmy Carter?
Obama was incredibly………….bland. Sorta like Ford. They tried to make fun of Ford, it was tough though and not very convincing, much like Barry.
Carter: overwhelmed wimp
Reagan: He had dementia(not far off lol)
Bush: nerdy policy wonk
Clinton: gluttonous pig
Bush: dumb fool
Obama:…………boring. I think some shows have nailed Obama like Family Guy, he just wasn’t a whole lot of “fun”.
Does anyone else remember the National Lampoon headline: “Four More Years of Nixon Jokes”? Nixon was comic gold.
I thought it was Dwight Eisenhower who mastered boring, that and living on the golf course. I thought Obama jokes would be Eisenhower jokes updated. I think it was harder though since so much invective was already being directed at him by the Republicans.
Consider the ‘Postcards of Donald McGill’. George Orwell wrote an essay on them. These were humorous postcards published seemingly forever, and mainly available in resort towns along the coast. They had the usual charwoman, cheap Scott, crazy Italian, bedazlled newlywed jokes along with some weak innuendo. They also had Jew jokes, but Orwell noticed that these vanished in the early 30s, shortly after Hitler rose to power. Kicking Jews just wasn’t as funny when they really were getting kicked.
Some Republicans consider knocking over a blind guy and kicking him while he struggles to get up to be absolutely hilarious, but most people don’t share that sense of humor. Humor, for most of us, isn’t about kicking someone when they are down. The side effects of chemotherapy might fuel a joke or two, but someone dying of cancer just isn’t funny. If the Republicans had just let up a bit with the invective, I’m sure comedians would have found their new Dwight D.
I’m with Kethan Murthy; Key and Peale were the best of the bunch and in large measure they were making fun, albeit good natured, of Obama. Trump is too easy but funny.
It all boils down to protecting black peoples feelings; more so after obama came onto the scene with his BLM diatribe and imaginary white privilege which he so elegantly conjured up. For a race of people who walk around “acting” so tough an empowered, trying to put the fear of God into anyone who isn’t black, they sure to put up a big fuss when someone attempts to make them the butt of a joke. Meanwhile, it’s totally ok for whites to be insulted, stereotyped and everything of the ilk. You never hear a white comedian target non whites, because they’d be blacklisted; al sharpton and his gang of race baiters would have to stop the earth from spinning to protest, demand apologies, and sue everyone they can think of. The only comedian who came close to insulting blacks, was Louie CK, when he actually said Nigger in his act, but then went overkill to counter insult whites, so it really doesn’t count. I noticed that someone commented above about Key and Peele, and my retort is that they are the exception, because they are black. For some reason, blacks took it upon themselves to set the stage and the rules as to who can make fun of blacks. Only black people are allowed. Kind of debunks the whole white privilege thing now doesn’t it? This is black privilege across-the-board, especially when it comes to freedom of speech. Blacks have all the freedom of speech and whites must walk on eggshells and “watch what they say” Pay attention, you see it everywhere; The Hodge Twins” are rising act these days. They are Donald Trump supporters who are constantly making videos insulting Obama and his wife. The reason why they get away with it? Well, go Google them and you will see why. Black people are their own worst enemy. They look for racism and Black people are their own worst enemy. They look for racism in everything, which is why they walk around with tremendous rage and hate towards whites. Hispanics aren’t too far behind. But this is Hollywood this is the element of thinking which comes out of Hollywood. We see it everywhere in movies such as white chicks, white men can’t jump and other movies not necessarily demeaning whites in the title, but certainly demeaning lightBut this is Hollywood this is the element of thinking which comes out of Hollywood. We see it everywhere in movies such as white chicks, white men can’t jump and other movies not necessarily demeaning whites in the title, but certainly demeaning whites throughout the throughout the movie. In essence whites are the toughest race on this planet because we don’t fall to our knees and cry like babies whenever we are faced with another exaggerated stereotype or recycled joke on our behalf. And let me stress black comedians and Hispanic comedians are all recycled humor. They can’t come up with anything else which is why I don’t even watch black comedians or Hispanic ones because they’re just not funny.
Welcome to Angry Bear. First time commenters and comments go to moderation to weed out spammers, spam, and advertising. Having said this to you, I have a few more words to say to you.
I am an XMarine Sergeant who served with Black Americans from 68 to 74. Black Americans have a damn good reason to show the internal rage they have with white America. What is it, 400 years of oppression by white America? And you are outraged? Don’t make me laugh.
I want to make sure others see our commentary. This comment will stay and the other two I will delete.