The left and right hand of comedy

Dennis Miller on The Daily Show.

Because I’m a creaky, gray-bearded old-timer, I can still remember when Dennis Miller was funny. Once his beloved Republicans took over in 2000, he cast off his comic chains and became an angry, mean, bitter, paranoid, delusional crank.

So I was a little relieved to see him at least try to be funny again whilst sitting next to Jon Stewart. The clip tells you everything you need to know about the left and right hands of American comedy. Stewart attacks the right (well, everyone really) on issues and Miller attacks the left on physical appearance. Al Gore is fat and won’t shut up, Nancy Pelosi is ugly and uses Botox, Robert Byrd is old and acts funny. Ha ha ha — gee, how can I possibly take any of those people seriously when one is overweight, one is a woman and one is old?  You really nailed those losers, Dennis! 

No mention whatsoever of the issues; they must not have been mentioned in the “talking points” fax he got that morning. Miller has an extensive vocabulary but apparently he hasn’t gotten to “shame” yet.
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19 Responses to “The left and right hand of comedy”
  1. eronanke says:

    I’m not going to lie, I love Dennis Miller. Mostly because I don’t care what his point is; I love the style. I find it almost an academic/pop culture exercise. I also remember when he was ‘funny’, but I’m going to disagree with 2000 being the year it all changed- I think it was September 11th that just freaked the shit out of him.

    • Todd says:

      9/11 freaked everyone out, but some remembered what their purpose in life is. Jon Stewart blossomed in the shadow of 9/11, found a way to wring gut-wrenching comedy from tragedy; Dennis Miller completely forgot that the satirist’s job is to attack the powerful and defend the weak. Instead, he joined the bullies to beat up the weak. A pox on him.

      Still, love the pop-culture references.

    • dougo says:

      He said the last straw was when he heard people calling Giuliani a Nazi, which was before 9/11.

  2. robolizard says:

    I remember ‘The Onion’ mentioned a conservative Daily Show in passing on one of its blogs. Do you know what that is?

    • Todd says:

      There’s something on Fox that calls itself the conservative Daily Show. I haven’t seen it.

      • greyaenigma says:

        Weird. I saw a clip from that a while back, I could have sworn it came from you. Or maybe Jimbo. That would explain why I couldn’t find it in your archives this morning.

  3. greyaenigma says:

    Al Gore is fat and won’t shut up, Nancy Pelosi is ugly and uses Botox, Robert Byrd is old and acts funny.

    To be fair, Stewart mocks them for many of the same issues. Of course, this also makes him more fair, since he’s (well, the writers) aren’t just mocking the right. And of course, he also deals with issues.

    • Todd says:

      Stewart mocks them for many of the same issues.

      He absolutely does not. I have never once seen a Daily Show routine that mocked a politician’s physical appearance. Stewart’s comedy goes quite a bit deeper when searching for the nub of its argument. Miller is just a mean-spirited bully whose toys have been taken away from him.

      • greyaenigma says:

        Well, I distinctly remember the “Coot-Off” between Byrd and… Stevens? OK, I don’t distinctly remember the details, but they’re not above making fun of older folks. I also remember jokes on Gore’s girth at the Oscars, and they do appearance jokes all the time.

        That being said, I’m willing to agree (with the caveat that I haven’t seen Miller for years) that the style and intent (and depth) are very different between the two. The Daily Show‘s comedy is typically insightful and balanced, which I’m sure is what most drives its critics up the wall.

  4. medox says:

    Miller used to be one of my favorites. It broke my heart when this changed.

  5. craigjclark says:

    I, too, remember when Dennis Miller was funny. I thought he was great on Weekend Update, I watched The Dennis Miller Show in college, I watched Dennis Miller Live when I got cable and I damn near wore out my tape of The Off-White Album.

    Frankly, it’s sad to see him now because he’s still using the same kinds of obscure pop culture references that I used to love him for (and who doesn’t love a good Marathon Man reference?), only now it’s to score points against liberals exclusively. Miller’s outright refusal to say anything critical of the Bush White House makes him worthless as a political satirist.

  6. noskilz says:

    I haven’t really followed Miller’s career very closely in the last few years – as much as anything else, from what I have seen, it’s almost as if something died inside and he just stopped trying. Or maybe his abu Ghraib material just irked me that much, but in some of the obscure reference riffs of his I happened to catch, it often seemed like he was going through the motions and mostly hoping no one would bother to look too closely at whether they made any sense or not(unlike, for example. his classic bit about the porno theater bathroom.)

    I hope this isn’t too off topic – I think it’s at least in keeping with the weird right-wing humor angle – here’s MC Rove rapping at the White House Press Correspondant’s dinner. I certainly never expected to see MC Rove(maybe putting this in the earlier nixon/rather/rove clip thread would be more appropriate)

    I believe the nickname the host is fishing for is “turdblossom”

  7. toliverchap says:

    I’m still waiting for the Daily Show v. South Park throw down that’ll be a good one for sure. OR Olberman v. Stewart. Penn v. Penn (Sean that is, but he was never really mean’t to be funny) man I could go on . . . but I won’t because Miller was weak on TDS and it was too bad since he can do better, you know that because Stewart never needed to pull rank and get a cheap laugh to cut off his opponent as he is want to do when he is losing, see the Hitchens interview for some of that.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I love the Daily Show but Stewart himself was never really that great a humorists and till today I cringe when he is at the interviewer role and just so inconsistent, he misses many possible good rejoinders and so on, for basically FAWNINGisms. That said, once with script, he (and the writing staff) are truly inspiring. Makes you realize, the importance of the text though, and what could Stewart represent other than acting the role he does.

    As for Miller, he wasn’t THAT great in the past, there’s alot of SNL and such to go through to say that he was consistent, but more to the point, the guy is souless. Which you can’t be in the role of comedy really. You can be cold, but cold like, say, in analogy to Wilson Pickett in regards to a certain soul music, not cold like Cheney in regards to humanity. He is a kiss-ass to the political conservatives that probably has never and will never be done to such a degree again. Sorry but 9-11 is no excuse, lots of people developed larger visions and dilemmas who didn’t have the chance to go on tv and express it, there is a reason this idiot did. And the whole white-guy republican model he lives and breathes is too obvious, the expensive suits, arm-candy models, conviently contrasted to the pose of “everyday guy” by trying to get into sports slots, and of course, the hugging of any rich Republican. The result was, fat belly, got soft, and now one sees he wasn’t much of something anyway. Like all the Republicans ahead will soon discover. Burn baby, burn.