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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: The politics of political humor

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Oct 31, 2012 12:55 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Thursday, November 1:

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In her book, A Conservative Walks Into a Bar: The Politics of Political Humor, Dr. Alison Dagnes writes that few stand-up comedians tell political jokes, mostly because many Americans don't follow politics that closely and wouldn't get the punchlines. 

Dagnes, who teaches political science at Shippensburg University, also says the comics who do tackle political humor do so with more of a liberal point-of-view.  There are a few exceptions like comedian Dennis Miller, who readily admits his views became more conservative after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.  Dr. Dagnes says that doesn't mean conservatives aren't funny but she has a theory on why there are more liberal joketellers.

Dagnes' research found that while most comedians may be liberal, the targets of the jokes are split across idealogical lines.

In the book, Dagnes describes the history of humor in American politics stretching back to the colonial era and how it has changed up to the present with TV programs like The Daily Show and the Colbert Report on Comedy Central.

Dr. Alison Dagnes will discuss political humor on Thursday's Radio Smart Talk.

Listen to the program:

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Dr. Alison Dagnes discusses humor in politics on Radio Smart Talk.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2012-11-01 09:06

    Email from Jim

    Please talk about Stephen Colbert. I think he is outrageously funny. He seems unique in that he goes in and out of his character as a conservative commentator, a la Bill O'Reilly. Sometimes he speaks as the commentator character, sometimes as himself.

    Surprisingly, he gets away with it.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2012-11-01 09:07

    Email from James;

    Colbert is a master of this. One would tend to think he’s a conservative poking fun more at Obama and liberals. But when a conservative does something really stupid (e.g. Trump’s idiotic challenge for Obama to produce his college transcripts) it’s too good to pass up.

    Consider him an “Equal Opportunity Annoyer.”

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2012-11-01 09:08

    Email from Thomas

    Big fan of early Dennis Miller then when he turned conservatism it seemed like a sell out because his career was on the downside, your thoughts?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2012-11-01 09:10

    Email from Lee in York:

    I enjoy political humor and have always wondered why movies, TV shows, and comics always featured liberal presidents and/or skewered conservatives. I have finally come to the conclusion that Conservatives really aren't funny. I think that most liberal comics have humor that a wide swath of people can at least understand and Conservatives have humor that fits into a narrow box that only conservatives understand because it depends upon knowing the underlying "facts". This becomes more difficult because Conservatives believe in an alternative reality that the wide swath of America just doesn't understand or know about.

    Why aren't there political cartoonists on the right? Look at Glenn McCoy as an example. He has no humor, he preaches, and he gets grisly. Those on the left simply do a better job.

    A Liberal, a Moderate, and a Conservative walk into a bar and the bartender says, "Hi Mitt."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2012-11-01 09:10

    Email from Les:

    I just wanted to mention that the idea that folks are 'getting the news' from these gentlemen is really a bit scary.

    It's obvious that they're comics, and all of the content on these shows comes from the original coverage of the issues of the day.

    They take the info that we've already been presented with via all forms of media and they make comedy with it.