So what happened? Moore’s brand of mixing comedy with tendentious far-left takes on current events was once rare. Now it’s everywhere. When Moore was in his heyday, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien were apolitical and David Letterman was all about Stupid Human Tricks instead of recycling Democratic Party propaganda as jokes. Now, the comic landscape is awash with strident leftism, from Samantha Bee to Trevor Noah to Stephen Colbert. Jimmy Kimmel, formerly the cheerful lout of “The Man Show,” these days coordinates his messaging on health care with Chuck Schumer’s office. Even Jimmy Fallon is wading into political humor. Many of these comics routinely plot the kind of performance-art stunts that were once Moore’s stock in trade, as when Kimmel sent comic “Jake Byrd” (Tony Barbieri) to crash President Trump’s inauguration and to troll supporters of former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in a church parking lot. These guys share Moore’s politics but an important difference is: They’re comedians. Moore isn’t funny enough to be even a passable stand-up, as he proved in his weak “TrumpLand” movie and his equally tepid Broadway show last year.
Moore spent years as an outlier on the left, willing to go much further into wackadoodle territory than others when he, for instance, blamed the military-industrial complex for the Columbine shootings at the end of “Bowling for Columbine” or hinted that the 9/11 attacks caused a suspiciously convenient reversal of sagging poll numbers for President George W. Bush in “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Today, when an avowed socialist is the spiritual leader of the Democratic Party and leading party figures support such loony-tunes ideas as abolishing ICE or putting everyone on Medicare, Moore’s persona no longer stands out.