Tags: US | TV | Comic | Targets

Comics Look to Obama, Democrats for Humor

Monday, 05 Aug 2013 06:28 AM

 

President Barack Obama, the joke's on you.

A study released Monday of gags made by late-night comics found that Obama and Democrats provided the lion's share of punchlines during the first six months of the year. That's an abrupt change from 2012, when Mitt Romney proved a gift to the comic gods.

The Center for the Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University says Obama was the target of 288 monologue jokes made by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Kimmel.

Next closest was New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner — and this was before the second round of Weiner's sexting scandal.

In 2012, Mitt Romney was the butt of more than twice as many jokes as Obama, and Republicans were similarly the target of more than double the jokes that were made on Democrats.

The findings don't illustrate any political change of heart among late-night comics, said Robert Lichter, the center's president. The jokes follow the news, and with Republicans receding after an election campaign, Obama presented more opportunities, he said.

"They're going after the most visible and powerful people that they can," Lichter said.

Even Letterman, who is generally harder on Republicans, couldn't resist joining in this time.

"People always say to me, they say, 'Hey, Letterman,' they say. 'Why don't you make jokes about Obama?' And I say, 'All right, I'll tell you why. I don't make jokes about him because I don't want the FBI tapping my phone,'" he said.

Leno tapped into the same idea with a different story: "I was going to start off tonight with an Obama joke, but I don't want to get audited by the IRS, so forget that."

Obama plans to make his own appearance on Leno's "Tonight" show Tuesday.

Democrats were the target of 713 jokes between January and June 2013, compared with 417 gags about Republicans, the study said. The only Republicans among the top 10 joke targets were former President George W. Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the CMPA said.

Fallon was the toughest comic on Democrats, targeting them 240 times compared with 76 for Republicans. Letterman had 139 jokes about Republicans and 102 about Democrats, the CMPA found.

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