Late Night Shutdown: Comics Tackle Topical Gags, Still Hit GOP Harder

As the government shutdown moved through its first week, the late night talk shows returned the medium back to the traditional satire we once enjoyed before the Obama Administration caused political humor to shut down.

David Letterman is proving why his average audience member is almost 59 years old by using the shutdown to make some jokes about Presidents Gerald Ford (2:44) and George Bush.

Of course the Oldest Presidential Joke is probably from Craig Ferguson who is counting the days of the Shutdown with the Presidents, meaning the writers don’t expect it to last more than 44 Days. Tonight should be Madison.

Ferguson had probably the funniest metaphor thus far: “Shut down like a Blockbuster video.” He also made a poignant observation that IRS Auditors are considered essential, but the attorneys who help taxpayers through audits have all been furloughed.

Most of the late night jokes are being made at the expense of a nebulous non-partisan creature called Congress, but as expected a couple of Republicans are lining up as victims of the comic assaults.

First up is Rep. John Boehner, whose leadership of the House has afforded Letterman, Jimmy Fallon and Ferguson to make more jokes about his tan and the fact that his last name looks like another word that cracks up middle school boys.

If there is no such thing as bad publicity, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) should be happy to learn that his filibuster elevated his name up to the level of late night jokes. Conan O'Brien: "During the shutdown, Ted Cruz will be donating his salary to charity … well, the charity is called 'Ted Cruz for President.'"

Conan also found The Panda-Cam shut down as a good excuse to bring back the ever-popular re-occurring bit: The Masturbating Bear.

The good news is, President Obama is finally sneaking into the monologues of hosts who once avoided it, albeit without much snap. Letterman noted that the shutdown was so bad, the President had to furlough his Mother In Law, while Conan said that for the Obamas' anniversary, Michelle gave the President a different kind of shut down.

Jimmy Kimmel is a disappointment. Last night, the host of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live intimated that the takeover of the WWII monument was silly and that it was being protested by the Tea Party--the same people he blamed for closing it.

Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live found the host claiming Congress intends to keep the Government closed unless Obamacare is defunded, which shows that Kimmel’s writers haven’t really been keeping up with the news. (It would be fun to send one of his gotcha cameras into his own writers rooms, and see how many of them could answer basic questions about the shut down.)

You can really tell that the writers are rusty when it comes to political jokes. Fallon, Kimmel, and Letterman all made jokes about being able to finally cut off mattress tags. Leno, the only host who hasn’t been avoiding material aimed at the current president, fired off some zingers. His writers are clearly the most solid:

"Obamacare does cover carpal tunnel syndrome ... the result of trying to get through the stupid Obamacare [web site]," he said.

Later, Leno mentioned how President Obama tried to excuse away the early glitches in Obamacare by comparing it to problems faced by Apple with some of its product launches.

"You gotta remember, Apple has geniuses working there ..." Leno said to hearty laughs and applause. "This is Washington. They don't have any geniuses."


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