Monday, November 21, 2011

Cain, Romney, and Huntsman: This Weekend's Political Comedy

The weekend began with Herman Cain's appearance on Friday's broadcast of the Late Show with David Letterman. Poor Herman Cain doesn't have any friends in Washington DC, but the voters are still interested in hearing more from Cain despite allegations of sexual harassment and his level of expertise on Libya. The full twenty-four minute appearance is embedded below:

Saturday Night Live started this weekend's broadcast with a cold open from Jason Sudeikis (in the form of Mitt Romney). Unfortunately, even SNL's version of fake Mitt Romney is dry and boring. Not even a leather jacket can help:

Lastly, the real Governor Jon Hunstman made an appearance on SNL during Weekend Update. There might be one too many New Hampshire jokes in this clip, but Huntsman's attempt at humor is admirable and certainly funnier than Perry's appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman from earlier this month. This just under 3 minute clip offers some good free exposure for a candidate like Hunstman with single-digit polling numbers. Hey, he's up from the Margin of Error right? In any event, this might be the best clip of the weekend, but you be the judge.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Are all of these Republican gaffes hurting the GOP?

In today's New York Times, Michael Shear presents an interesting analysis of the recent gaffes made by GOP candidates including Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann.

The question is whether these gaffes - particularly with respect to foreign policy - weaken assessments of the Republican Party. After all, foreign policy and national security are supposed to be among their bread and butter issues.

Whether these gaffes will have an impact on the GOP in this election or the long term is debatable. At the very least they do offer good fodder for late night comedians. Here's Jon Stewart's take from last evening's broadcast on Herman Cain's interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding events in Libya.

And here's a clip of the original interview put forward by the Journal Sentinel

Is this simply the latest in a series of funny gaffes or is it time for the GOP to do some damage control?

SNL's Version of Perry's Oops Moment

For those who weren't in front of the TV last Saturday night -- or haven't managed to catch up on Hulu -- here's SNL's version of the Perry "Oops" debate moment.

Not a bad opening segment for a show that will increasingly insert itself into the political fray as the election gets closer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rick Perry's Top 10: Can Self-Ridicule Remove the Sting of his Oops Moment?

Rick Perry appeared on David Letterman last night, reading the evening's Top Ten list. Last night's list - "Top Ten Rick Perry Excuses." The impromptu appearance was made in an attempt to minimize the damage from Perry's "Oops" moment during the GOP candidates debate.

My recent academic research on the differential impact of comedy forms suggests that viewers cool towards politicians when folks like Letterman, Colbert, and Stewart make fun of them using other-directed hostile humor. At the same time, voters can warm toward politicians like Perry, McCain, and others if they are willing to be in on the joke and engage in some healthy self-directed humor or self-ridicule. Of course, this also means that the self-directed humor has to be funny with the politician doing a good job in the impromptu role of comic.

After watching Perry's appearance on Letterman from last night, I'm not so sure that this attempt at self-ridicule worked. After all, Perry's body language alone makes watching the Top Ten reading an uncomfortable experience.

What do you think? Did Perry's attempt at self-ridicule minimize the sting of his "oops" moment during the debate or did Perry fall flat in his attempt to be a comic?

Top Ten video below:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Great Week for Political Comedy

It's been a fun week in political comedy. Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers had a lot of fun during their chat on The Colbert Report this past Tuesday. I particularly like their discussion of political comedy and SNL's role in making fun of the mainstream media, especially since Colbert tries so hard to stay in character as a serious media personality.

Herman Cain had some fun with Jimmy Kimmel on Monday night. The purpose of his visit was to discuss the Sharon Bialek/Gloria Allred press conference.

There's also Rick Perry's debate performance -- a brain freeze that has received more media attention than the actual issues or substance of the debate. Perry will appear on the Late Show with David Letterman tonight  in an attempt to turn this whole debate flub into just a humorous campaign misstep. Cain will appear on Letterman next week -- November 18th to be exact.

And finally there's a new Mike Tyson impersonation of Herman Cain over at Funny or Die.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Best of Both Worlds: Twitter and Comedy

Seems that Twitter is a useful forum for comedians these days -- especially as a testing and proving ground for jokes that don't make it past the cutting room floor.

There was an interesting article in Sunday's NYTimes about the ways in which late-night comedy writers and even the head writer for The Onion, Seth Reiss, uses Twitter to keep the comic juices flowing. Seems the worlds of new media and comedy (and even political comedy to some extent) are coming together in an attempt to make us laugh.

Check the article out and find out who to follow.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Push the Envelope, Conan: Same-Sex Marriage & Late Night Comedy

Conan O'Brien will officiate at the first same-sex marriage featured on late-night television

Check it out tonight as Conan marries the show's costume designer Scott Cronick to his partner David Gorshein.

Of course the media had an instant reaction to the pending nuptials. Luckily Conan was able to turn their reaction into a fairly funny comic bit. 

The wedding will also commemorate the one year anniversary of Conan's affiliation with TBS. Three cheers to Conan for being willing to "push the envelope."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Race, the debate over Same-Sex Marriage, and Cory Booker

Frank Bruni has an interesting column in today's New York Times. He talks about the relationship between race and support for same-sex marriage. More specifically, Bruni focuses on the African-American community chronicling their lack of support for same-sex marriage initiatives especially when compared against Hispanic and Caucasian voters.

Bruni's piece is worth a read for a number of reasons, but it is his discussion of the upcoming Maryland case that piqued my interest. Public opinion research has documented the differences in support for same-sex marriage legislation in the state and the particular opposition the measure faces from African-American pastors and the religious community they represent. Given the state of affairs in Maryland and the state of national public opinion (at least when it comes to race and support for same-sex marriage), it should therefore come as no surprise that the Human Rights Campaign has enlisted Newark Mayor Cory Booker (video featured below) and celebrities like Mo'Nique to show their support for marriage equality.

The question is whether these videos will have an impact in Maryland and beyond. As the debate in Maryland heats up and as Governor Martin O'Malley pushes forward with his attempt to have the state pass same-sex marriage legislation, it is likely that we'll see a whole host of these types of video messages targeting a range of constituency groups -- not just African-Americans. Will these videos be enough to cause shifts in public opinion? Is the connection between civil rights and gay rights a compelling enough argument?