A look inside “progressive comedy” at Netroots Nation 2014

posted at 12:31 pm on July 20, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

This year’s edition of Netroots Nation (the supposed liberal answer to CPAC) kicked off this week, in case you hadn’t heard. (And judging by the massive lack of media coverage, you might not have.) To be honest, I have not idea what was going on at the various panels and speeches, aside from the apparently well received socialist stemwinder from Elizabeth Warren. But there was, it seems, one get together which was a real hoot, whether intentionally or not. It was a seminar called (wait for it) … Only the Jester Speaks the Truth and it was all about the importance of liberal comedy and why they need to be funnier than conservatives. A brief taste of the description.

The Left is supposed to be funnier than the Right, damn it.

So why do we so often sound in public like we’re stiltedly reading from a non-profit grant proposal?

This panel hopes to explore humor’s unparalleled ability to deliver challenging information to the public, as well as mold and shift perspectives.

Wow. That’s hilarious. I’m nearly doubled over with laughter already. But for those of us who were unable to make it, Jon Gabriel (better known as @exjon on the Twitterz) infiltrated the hive mind and brought us a report on this important progressive comedy summit.

This defensive tone was apparent throughout the hour-plus session, brought up repeatedly by speakers and audience members. Much like a co-worker who doesn’t get anyone’s jokes but insists, “I have a great sense of humor!”

After futzing with computers for 10 minutes, the panel’s four comedians showed highlight reels, with one apologizing for the lack of audience laughs. (Her show was made for the web, you see, so it doesn’t have cues for laughter like television does.)

The crowd was most pleased with Russia Today’s Lee Camp, whose video mocked America’s regressive attitude on gays and oil drilling without noting he gets his paychecks from Vladimir Putin.

“Comedy creates oneness and that is what our side wants,” according to Julianna Forlano, host of a news parody without laughter cues called “Absurdity Today.” She noted how her stand-up performance even created “oneness” at a Pennsylvania Elks Lodge, despite the crowd being filled with racist men (you could tell they were racist from the animal heads displayed on the walls).

Jon’s full coverage is brilliant satire and could almost make you wish you’d been there for the uncomfortable, awkward silence filled spectacle. (Well, I did say “almost”) But I’ll offer up this question for your weekend consideration. Are conservative comics really more funny than blatantly liberal ones? And if so, are they really more funny in an objective way or is it just that we agree more with the points they’re making? Ron White is probably about the funniest comic I can think of who is working today, and he’s definitely conservative. But a couple of his partners – such as Larry the Cable Guy – really don’t do that much for me. But by the same token, I find Chris Hardwick (also known as the Nerdist) to be hilarious in most of his work, but if you listen to his podcast, he’s probably about as liberal as they come.

In the end, I think comedy is in the eye of the beholder. A really talented, funny comic can deliver the goods no matter the ideological bent of their material. Of course, the easiest route is probably to avoid political comedy in the first place. Jim Gaffigan is a great example of that. I’m sure you can think of others.


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If you’re a liberal and do comedy, I shouldn’t be able to tell that you’re a liberal.

22044 on July 20, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Gaffigan is flat-out hilarious. I hope he stays away from political humor, as I wish most would do. *shrug*

Midas on July 20, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Liberals and comedy? That’s a good one!Liberals are the most despicable,hateful, regressive human beings on earth.They are always pissed about something and happiness is not in their vocabulary.

jeffinsjvca on July 20, 2014 at 12:41 PM

To quote Queen Victoria, “We are not amused.”

RedPepper on July 20, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Bill Cosby is one of *the* great comedians of all time, and throughout his decades long career in standup and in his TV show, I don’t remember him ever saying anything political one way or the other, unless you count the drumbeat for a college education, preferably in a black college.

My current favorite is Gabriel Igelsias, Fluffy. No politics. Funny funny guy.

If you look at a list of top current and historical comedians, the more politics they spout, the lower on the list they are. And someone like Chris Rock who started off funny can fall way way off once he focuses in on grievances.

NahnCee on July 20, 2014 at 12:44 PM

There is nothing funny about political correctness.

joekenha on July 20, 2014 at 12:47 PM

The existence of Warrenhonta is hilarious.

Plus, they are never liberal. Quit calling them that.

They are leftist thugs, who stole the term.

Schadenfreude on July 20, 2014 at 12:47 PM

It’s hard to combine bitterness and humor.

Flange on July 20, 2014 at 12:48 PM

They insist upon themselves, mightily. We even had a seminar. And it was stated within the article that conservatives have funny, pithy comments because “they lie”. Comedy is funny when it has a core of truth. This the progressives lack. They do like to viciously lie and call it comedy, and their barking seals laugh and applaud. But they cannot stand to be mocked or exposed. Then you’re just a h8ter.

Cliff by the Ford on July 20, 2014 at 12:51 PM

And someone like Chris Rock who started off funny can fall way way off once he focuses in on grievances.

NahnCee on July 20, 2014 at 12:44 PM

“Comedians” who use comedy as a means to end aren’t really comedic. And that point, they’re funny only to laugh at, not with.

non-nonpartisan on July 20, 2014 at 12:51 PM

And At that point

non-nonpartisan on July 20, 2014 at 12:51 PM

It is just more of the Liberal mindset to make EVERYTHING about partisan politics.

Grunt on July 20, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Speaking of Chris Rock I remember him doing a hilarious routine on SNL. Some of the highlights were about Clarence Thomas (mocking Anita hill) and the presidential election. “Is there anything you can’t do on Monday cuz your guy didn’t win?” He’s a long way from there now.

And bill Cosby. Genius comedian. Go carts and the Chicken Hearts bits make me laugh every single time.

WitchDoctor on July 20, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Two words: Brian Regan.

Eviva on July 20, 2014 at 12:58 PM

It hasn’t dawned on these people they are the most humorless crowd since Stalin and The Purges?

formwiz on July 20, 2014 at 1:01 PM

It hasn’t dawned on these people they are the most humorless crowd since Stalin and The Purges?

formwiz on July 20, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Do they do abortion jokes?

VegasRick on July 20, 2014 at 1:01 PM

I enjoyed the Pandora PG Comedy channel, until it started playing the same bits over and over.

22044 on July 20, 2014 at 1:03 PM

It hasn’t dawned on these people they are the most humorless crowd since Stalin and The Purges?

formwiz on July 20, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Ever see them try to do self-deprecating humor? lol They’re all narcissists. We shouldn’t expect them to have any honest, intelligent insight about themselves. =)

non-nonpartisan on July 20, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Socialists think everything has to have social relevance. There’s no such thing as just entertainment.

crankyoldlady on July 20, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Two words: Brian Regan.

Eviva on July 20, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Two more words: Take luck!

thebrokenrattle on July 20, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Liberal humor is like Stalinist or Soviet Union “art.” That they chose Stalin-like posters in 2008 told us something.

There’s always the suspicion — or the anxiety producing awareness — that there is a looming presence as the lights dim.

Expecially in today’s politically correct and politically charged atmosphere, that presence is oppresion. It’s not just to control speech; it’s an attempt to control thought.

Humor — when pointing out our weaknesses — probably should make us uncomfortable. But the liberal, the progressive, the Stalinist, makes us fearfully uncomfortable. The 08 posters were fearful; they presaged an oppression to come.

Whereas I think conservative humor has its springs elsewhere, and consequently leaves us lighter and refreshed.

EastofEden on July 20, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Whereas I think conservative humor has its springs elsewhere, and consequently leaves us lighter and refreshed.

EastofEden on July 20, 2014 at 1:08 PM

A communist and a muslim and a black guy walk into a bar

“What’ll it be mr president?”

VegasRick on July 20, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Progressive comedian: “You know how do we deal with Conservatives?”

Progressive audience: “Mass graves!!!!”

Ahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahh….

ScottG on July 20, 2014 at 1:17 PM

“How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

Kenosha Kid on July 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Comedy creates oneness

Um, nope. The phrase “Can’t you take a joke?” is as old as comedy itself.

ss396 on July 20, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?

A. THAT’S NOT FUNNY!!!

Tom Servo on July 20, 2014 at 1:20 PM

“How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

Kenosha Kid on July 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

101. 1 to do the screwing, 100 to scream and yell and throw poop…

VegasRick on July 20, 2014 at 1:20 PM

“How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

Kenosha Kid on July 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

THAT’S NOT FUNNY!!!

J.S.K. on July 20, 2014 at 1:23 PM

What do you call a black guy flying a plane?
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Pilot, ya racist bastiges.

H/T True Detectives

LtGenRob on July 20, 2014 at 1:29 PM

THE YELLOW ONE! THE BIG YELLOW ONE IS THE SUN!

Dack Thrombosis on July 20, 2014 at 1:32 PM

I shall repeat, THEY ARE NOT LIBERALS.

These people are totalitarian big government fascists. There is absolutely nothing liberal about them.

jukin3 on July 20, 2014 at 1:33 PM

The funniest guys out there are a mix but conservatives are represented. Louis CK has some liberal stuff, but also some anti PC talk and views I’d consider more traditional/conservative. He’s also friendly with some conservative comedians.

Patrice O’Neal, who passed away, was certainly a man’s man and I would say not very accepting of the liberal feminization of society.

Colin Quinn is very conservative, as is Nick DiPaolo. Others too, I’d say like Jim Norton is fairly conservative.

If you’re talking talk show hosts yeah Jon Stewart, Colbert and that new boob… whatever his name is… are liberals.

Dash on July 20, 2014 at 1:33 PM

I think Joe Rogan is a funny libertarian/conservative comedian. I’m not sure what his actual politics are but when he’s on stage, he hits the Left pretty hard and is unashamed about it.

Conservative Samizdat on July 20, 2014 at 1:33 PM

I’ve always thought that the best comedy requires a strong sense of self-awareness — something rarely found in Leftists, being primarily narcissists and evaders of reality …

ShainS on July 20, 2014 at 1:34 PM

THE YELLOW ONE! THE BIG YELLOW ONE IS THE SUN!

Dack Thrombosis on July 20, 2014 at 1:32 PM

*libtard – “were going to land a woman on the sun”
Conservative – “You can’t, they will burn up”
*libtard “were going at night, moron!”

VegasRick on July 20, 2014 at 1:35 PM

The greatest progressive comic on the stage today has the world’s attention (when it’s awake) when he’s working the Borscht Belt (rich, leftest Jews and progs with gas – *erp*), Obamarama the Chicago One. He’s the champ of the ‘One-liner’, the Chief Organizer of the Snigger, creator of confusion and internal class warfare, and progenitor of the black humor of national suicide. If He were just, funny…

vnvet on July 20, 2014 at 1:35 PM

“How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

Kenosha Kid on July 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

None.

They’ll sit around in the dark complaining about how the design of the light bulb is the result of a rapist/patriarchal culture, and the poor light socket represents every womyn who has ever been abused by a man.

Then they’ll demand free access for contraceptives (electrical tape) for all light sockets, thus remaining in the dark.

ZeusGoose on July 20, 2014 at 1:47 PM

I don’t know about any of you guys, but after looking over the list of comedians, one stood out for me. Katie Halper. I really must get my hands on her hysterical masterpieces “AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining video series and SEIU’s Healthy Americans Against Reforming Medicine series” and fast.

My stomach hurts already.

Borgcube on July 20, 2014 at 1:48 PM

K.a.t, cat

I know there’s 2 T’s

LtGenRob on July 20, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Isn’t that Sarah Palin a _____________? (insert vulgarity)
Hahahahaha lol we so funny

John the Libertarian on July 20, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Seeing as liberals are hypocrites most of the time, there’s not much comedy out there to cover their blatant double standard on issues.

GarandFan on July 20, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Progressives are only funny when it’s unintentional and full of irony:

Reminder to live our values & support working families by tipping your hotel housekeeping staff $3-5/day. #nn14

RadClown on July 20, 2014 at 2:07 PM

In many ways, the Democrat platform is defined by “that which is difficult to ridicule with a one-liner”.

Count to 10 on July 20, 2014 at 2:07 PM

It’s hard to be funny, when your goal in life is to make sure no one ever has any fun.

Zorro

Zorro Olmer on July 20, 2014 at 2:15 PM

When you run around your convention as a giant vajayjay, there ain’t much room left for wit.

John the Libertarian on July 20, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Everything terrible is progressive… cancer, brain tumors, dementia, etc.

faraway on July 20, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Liberals are funny, although I have to admit I’m usually laughing at them, not with them.

And the most comic moments are ones in which they are trying to be totally serious.

Though sometimes the laughter is to keep from crying. Especially when they are in power and we have to deal with policy implementations (ACA for instance).

So we try laughing through the pain inflicted by them, hoping the endorphins will help make it bearable, until someone compassionate and sensible comes around to give us some relief.

s1im on July 20, 2014 at 2:56 PM

If you’re a liberal and do comedy, I shouldn’t be able to tell that you’re a liberal.

22044 on July 20, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Yep. And the same goes for conservatives in comedy. I shouldn’t know you are a conservative……just be funny.

terryannonline on July 20, 2014 at 3:14 PM

To a progressive, “humor” = “seeing harm come to those you don’t like”.

Forcing someone out of their job, watching them die, etc.

There’s a reason those “Funniest Videos” shows always judged a white male getting hit in the nuts to be the funniest video.

HikaruKitsune on July 20, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Greg Gutfeld is around one thousand times funnier than Jon Stewart.

Red Eye is between seven hundred fifty and nine hundred times funnier than The Daily Show, give or take.

Tyrone Slothrop on July 20, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Bill Maher used to be an insightful amusing comic, a lifetime ago. But when he shifted to politics he became an unbearable canut. And that is because all of that humor is based on ridiculous lies. Commonly accepted lies that are exaggerated then applied to the group as a whole.

Conservatism is about recognizing the things of value and conserving them for the future, not about being stuck in the past.

Religion is not about rejecting science. Religion has no dispute with science. Religion is about values, it instruct what to do with all that.

So in depicting conservatism as being stuck in the past, or longing for a simpler golden age, is flatly wrong. And depicting religion as continuously at odd with science is to misunderstand and misrepresent religion, and there is nothing funny in that. Nothing. Funny. At. All.

I feel the same way about British humor. I was looking through sickopedia at their jokes. They acknowledge themselves that they’re sick, but they fail to acknowledge they’re flat not funny. Because they’re based on common wisdom that is flatly wrong. The jokes make them look mean, stupid, not just misinformed but malinformed. Their jokes are maliciously stupid.

They tend to take the most ridiculous most isolated element and put it forward as representing a basic truth about the whole nation, the whole race, the sex, whatever.

One example is the accepted wisdom, probably due to studies, that indicate all Americans are fat. There is truth to that. But they never question their own obesity. Their own out of shape bodies. Their own drunkenness. Their smoking like chimneys. Their corrupted healthcare system. Their crap housing. Their own immigration problems. Their own racism. Their own economic retardation. While conversely failing to recognize Americans are the most health-obsessed population you’re likely to see. We spend trillions in body management. We’re vain as can be. We have more gym memberships that are actually used than any civilization on Earth and throughout history. We are body obsessed. There are more hunks, more beefcake, cheesecake bodies than anywhere else. Competitively so. Those things are not part of their vicious, mean-spirited, absolutely not funny so-called jokes. Such as told by grade schooler. Their stand up comedians suck. Their slapstick sucks. their situational comedy is barely tolerable. That they find any of that funny marks them humor-retarded. Yet they fancy themselves brilliant jokesters. They insist the problem is we don’t get them. There is honestly nothing to get.

Except satire.

They do satire better than Americans do. Americans tend to project “we’re doing satire, we’re doing satire, we sure are doing satire, make sure you understand this is satire” and that is not funny. Just do it. That is the one thing British do better, the one thing Liberals do better than conservatives.

Here’s a clue for conservatives attempting satire. Instead of exaggerating ridiculously the liberal thing you are satirizing, wink, wink, I’m pretending to be a liberal, wink, wink, just pretend to be an honest sincere liberal and follow through with comic results while failing to learn anything from consequences so that you are set up for the next sequence. Keep it sincere, give no clue that you’re punking, allow it to show itself. That is what’s funny.

I’ve yet to see a comic imitate Obama’s whistling sibilants that make him so irritating to listen to. And if done, then not exaggerated, just done. That would be fantastic, to take his speech impediment and nail it. But for some odd reason he and that is untouchable. They do it with every other politician but for some reason the most obvious element available is avoided. I do not understand why. Dana Carvey stating Obama is not a walking talking cartoon like all the others is just straight up cowardice. He’s lying. He can do Obama as easily as any other. Obama killed comedy by being untouchable in the comic’s own mind.

bour3 on July 20, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Bob Hope
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQWmMfjaXlc

Jeff2161 on July 20, 2014 at 3:36 PM

“How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

Kenosha Kid on July 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

I don’t think even ONE feminist will fit inside a lightbulb.

Dolce Far Niente on July 20, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Watching a Nutroots Convention is funny–panels about how socialists have no sense of humour is more so.

Newtie and the Beauty on July 20, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Greg Gutfeld is around one thousand times funnier than Jon Stewart.

Red Eye is between seven hundred fifty and nine hundred times funnier than The Daily Show, give or take.

Tyrone Slothrop on July 20, 2014 at 3:29 PM

It should be on sometime when other than nighthawks can watch it.

crankyoldlady on July 20, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Plenty of Leftist comedians posting here on Hot Gas.

1. NedPepper

2. nonpartisan

3. verbaluce

4. sesquipedalian

5. bayam

6. Tom_Shipley

7. libfreeordie

8. urban elitist

……………………………………………..

Del Dolemonte on July 20, 2014 at 4:27 PM

I shall repeat, THEY ARE NOT LIBERALS.

These people are totalitarian big government fascists. There is absolutely nothing liberal about them.

jukin3 on July 20, 2014 at 1:33 PM

These people are totalitarian big government PROGRESSIVE/SOCIALISTS, please.

There is absolutely nothing liberal about them.

Nor is there anything even remotely humorous.

oldleprechaun on July 20, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Socialism with a smile?

The Happy Nanny State?

Giggles with Big Government?

Mallard T. Drake on July 20, 2014 at 4:50 PM

All comedy must have a kernel of truth. Liberals because they never tell the truth are aliens to comedy.

Herb on July 20, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Ever see them try to do self-deprecating humor? lol They’re all narcissists. We shouldn’t expect them to have any honest, intelligent insight about themselves. =)

non-nonpartisan on July 20, 2014 at 1:04 PM

I saw one of them try to do self-deprecating humor. It was Obama, when, on the Tonight Show (Leno), he tried to make light of his poor bowling skills by comparing them with the Special Olympics. While it didn’t indicate that he had any insight about himself, it certainly provided insight about him to anyone watching. I can’t imagine what it was like for Special Olympians to see their achievements denigrated by the president of the United States.

86 on July 20, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Bob Dole used to be hilarious sometimes and Ronald Reagan could be too. They started with a smile not a snarl. They told a joke that anyone could get and go along with even though it did make a point. By then, even doubters were willing to listen. Then they would make like they were giving the benefit of the doubt to dubious arguments by opponents and then at the end show those arguments to be unsupportably ridiculous. It was effective. I did not see that in Elizabeth Warren’s speech. Clearly it was just red meat for the already converted.

KW64 on July 20, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Plus, they are never liberal. Quit calling them that.

They are leftist thugs, who stole the term.

Schadenfreude on July 20, 2014 at 12:47 PM

I like to call them REGRESSIVES!

I hope the term sticks. Feel free to spread the term far and wide…

dominigan on July 20, 2014 at 7:32 PM

*libtard – “were going to land a woman on the sun”
Conservative – “You can’t, they will burn up”
*libtard “were going at night, moron!”

VegasRick on July 20, 2014 at 1:35 PM

growing up that was a polish joke ….

conservative tarheel on July 21, 2014 at 2:13 AM

Are conservative comics really more funny than blatantly liberal ones?

My observations indicate that conservatives generally understand sarcasm better than liberals, and also are much more able to laugh at ourselves than they are. We don’t think much of PC rules either, so there are a wider range of subjects we’ll laugh about. I think conservative comedians are considered funnier at least partially because conservative audiences aren’t as uptight with our senses of humor. We are more free with our laughter and jollity!

Cheshire_Kat on July 21, 2014 at 4:02 AM