In the short span between my last review and today, we’ve seen the President sign a stimulus package so full of pork that Obama’s father would have been forbidden to touch it, along with a bump on the head, a scripted and sputtering press conference, and a contradiction from someone who actually understands how business works. Obama also appeared onstage in the theatre where Lincoln was shot, alongside a Lincoln impersonator (ouch).
Certainly there’s some topics ripe for ridicule. So what are the Late Nights talking about? I thought it was time for another review, so I fired up the DVR Tuesday night and watched David Letterman, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel. (Jon Stewart, and Stephen Cobert both have the week off.)
Alex Rodriguez (Letterman, Leno, Kimmel), the recession (Letterman, Leno, Ferguson) and the octuplets (Letterman, Leno, Kimmel) are the most popular topics right now. Meanwhile, the shows still struggle to find a handle from which to grab the new administration.
Leno hit one fairly squarely: He said that Congress commemorated George Washington throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac by tossing $700 billion down a rat hole. Conan and Kimmel only told one political joke. Granted Conan is closing down “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” (his last show is this Friday), and much of the show was devoted to running old clips, tearing up the set, and saying goodbye to the masturbating bear. Jimmy Kimmel said that Obama thanked Republicans for their support on the stimulus package by sending a jar of peanuts to each of them — and this is how many of the Late Nights seem to be approaching the administration right now, by making jokes about Republicans trying to ruin it all.
Jon Stewart did a piece last week which blamed Republicans for destroying “The Hope.” By now we’ve all seen the Dan Akroyd “Saturday Night Live” clip (so devoid of laughter you wonder whether it was taped in front of an audience), where Republicans are mocked for not recognizing the intellect and eloquence of the new President. (I was reminded of an old Dan Akroyd bit where the “comedy” arises from Jimmy Carter being so brilliant, and an expert on absolutely everything.) Leno also told a “joke” about how well the President speaks. (He uses descriptions like: from the windy plains of the Dakotas, to the sunny skies of Arizona; rather than: from the sleazeball criminals of Wall Street to the broke-ass beaches of California.)
Craig Ferguson also blamed Republicans and said they were certain the stimulus would lead to failure. He then asked the director to put up a picture of failure, and predictably showed a photograph of President Bush. In Craig’s defense, he did do a really funny piece up front about how Los Angeles regulations made it illegal for him to light sparklers without completing a training course. He also questioned the sanity of giving stimulus to the same taxpayers who would eventually pay for it.
There was a two-fer on Ferguson’s show as Bill Maher was a guest. The conversation actually turned to the administration: “How’s it going to be with the Obama Presidency for you?” Craig asked him, “Because you were sticking it to President Bush pretty tough.”
Bill stammered: “I think you’re skirting around the question. Everyone asks ‘how can you make jokes?’ Bush was so easy… are you going to make jokes about Obama, [Craig]?”
“I do fart jokes, Bill.”
Letterman also hasn’t found a way around it either, but for the first time, since I started doing these reviews he didn’t do a single Bush joke. Instead, he unloaded on Bill Clinton: (While Hillary spent the day in Tokyo, negotiating with Japanese leaders and working on a peace treaty with North Korea to come to an agreement on nuclear weapons – Bill ate 50 hot wings at Hooters, and gave his number to a waitress named Mindy.) And Dave admitted (for the second time since I started reviews): “Because the Clintons have been good to us, and we’re having trouble coming up with stuff on the new guy.” He also did a Top Ten List of Things Hillary Wants to Accomplish on Her Trip Oversees, one of which was picking up a carton of duty-free smokes for Obama.
And that dear readers, could be the very first sighting of an actual Obama joke on Late Night TV.
(Check out TimSlagle.com for real Obama jokes)