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File: Comedian Dennis Miller presents his new weekly series at Stage 9 Studios November 6, 2007 in Santa Barbara, California.
More often than not, when you see a comedian get political, they're taking shots at conservative rather than liberal ideas. The Comedy Store's Alf LaMont has an interesting piece on this up today at the Huffington Post. (You can also read my in-depth interview with LaMont going inside the Los Angeles comedy scene.)
He recently moderated a panel at South by Southwest on political humor, and as he notes, when he asked for examples of conservative humor, the only name anyone was able to throw out was Dennis Miller. I admit that, when I first opened up his article, this was the first name to come to mind for me too.
There are other notable conservative comedians, though fewer that make their conservatism part of their act. Finding a popular social conservative comedian is even harder. One bright note for conservative comedy: there seems to be more representation when it comes to libertarians, though this also includes libertarians who lean more to the left like Bill Maher.
LaMont spoke with Professor Peter McGraw about the topic before the panel; McGraw writes the Humor Code blog for Psychology Today. He boils down the reasons for the bias to five reasons; the fifth is reliant on LaMont's own political perspective, though there seems to be some room for common ground in his other points.
It's a topic that seems to be in the zeitgeist recently, as I've seen several other articles on the topic; Mike Lafferty at the Orlando Sentinel had what I thought was the most interesting piece on the topic, talking about how the paper has a section that compiles political humor and satire from late night talk show hosts and online. It comes at it from the earnest perspective of trying to provide comedic balance, but conservative humor is simply hard to come by.
It seems like comedy should be able to take on a range of targets, regardless of ideology. As LaMont writes, "Even political comedy is best approached not from a political point of view, but rather a point of view of what is funny."
Do you have any ideas for why comedy is like this? Is it simply tradition? Is there something inherent in comedy that makes conservative comedy more difficult or less appealing? Do you think KPCC does a fair job of trying to be equal opportunity humorists during Comedy Congress? Share your thoughts in the comments.