Patterico's Pontifications


SNL’s Lorne Michaels: Republican Politicians Can Take a Joke Better Than Democrats

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:32 pm

This is a complete shock to everybody except for Republicans:

Q: Are there any basic rules for what works and what doesn’t politically?

A: Republicans are easier for us than Democrats. Democrats tend to take it personally; Republicans think it’s funny.

I’m not confident that this is true of Democrats generally, but I believe it is true of more partisan Democrats, which describes most Democrat politicians. I doubt Michaels would make it up. It’s not like he or his fellow travelers are conservatives, after all.

Speaking of which, here is another part of Michael’s interview that I do think he is making up:

[W]e’ve never been agenda people. Our job—and it sounds too grand to say and none of us ever say it—is speaking truth to power. I’m registered as an Independent, not because everything that we do would be undermined if we were partisan—Jon Stewart has that role. Us? Theoretically, whoever it is in power, we’re against them.

Oh yeah? Then — FLASHBACK WARNING — how do you explain this?

This article has a more complete quote from this Chevy Chase interview, for readers who don’t watch videos — or who just want more context for the eye-opening quotes in the video:

CNN: Let’s go back to ’76.

Chevy Chase: It was Gerald Ford that was president but hadn’t been elected and was running again and I just …

CNN: Some people say he was an accidental president and you made him accident prone.

Chase: Actually, he was accident prone and he was a sweet man, a terrific man, became good friends later, and a relatively good athlete in college too … but he just tripped over things a lot. … You know, after a while, you just start writing the jokes and start doing it.

So it’s not that I can imitate him so much that I can do a lot of physical comedy, and I just made it, I just went after him. And I certainly, obviously my leanings were Democratic and they wanted Carter in and I wanted [Ford] out and I figured look, we’re reaching millions of people every weekend, why not do it.

CNN: You mean to tell me in the back of your mind you were thinking, hey I want Carter …

Chase: Oh, yeah.

CNN: And I’m going to make him look bad.

Chase: Oh yeah.

CNN: Wow.

Chase: What do you think they’re doing now, you think they’re just doing this because Sarah’s funny? No, I think that the show is very much more Democratic and liberal-oriented, that they are obviously more for Barack Obama. [In the ’70s], out of the Nixon era, and it was not unlikely that I might go that direction.*

Sure, Ford was in power, but Chase makes it clear: he didn’t attack Ford because Ford was in power. He attacked Ford because Chase and the rest of the SNL writers leaned Democrat and he (and they) wanted the Democrat to win. It’s that simple.

And they still do.

Lorne is lying because he can’t tell the truth while he’s still there. There is, by contrast, no reason Chevy Chase would be lying about this. He’s not.

Michaels’s declaration against interest (Republicans have a better sense of humor) is the truth. His self-serving claim that the show doesn’t play political favorites is bull.

Of course, SNL barely matters these days, although it may have hurt Sarah Palin. The Jon Stewarts and Stephen Colberts have the pull that SNL had in the 70’s when it didn’t suck all the time. But until conservatives can come up with the conservative alternative to the Jon Stewarts and Stephen Colberts, we’re going to keep losing young people.

Thanks to Larry Elder.

*I altered the quoted transcript in two places where I could hear a difference between the video above and the quote given: 1) Chase says “they” (not “I”) wanted Carter in, and 2) the reporter says “Wow” after he clarifies that he felt the same way. The quote above reflects the accurate transcript in these places instead of the article’s inaccurate one.

43 Responses to “SNL’s Lorne Michaels: Republican Politicians Can Take a Joke Better Than Democrats”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. unexpectedly!

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  3. . . . and a relatively good athlete in college too . . .

    Yeah, relatively. Only good enough to have his number retired by the university of Michigan (sure, some of that may have had something to do with being President). Only good enough to have been invited to coach the freshmen at Yale while he was a law student. Only good enough to have been offered a contract by the Green Bay Packers.

    Put it this way: Gerald Ford was a hell of a lot better football player (or athlete, if you will) than Chevy Chase is a comedian.

    Hey, does anyone want to try to argue that Chevy Chase was funny after the first Vacation movie?

    JVW (d2eeb5)

  4. Hey, by the way, don’t forget that (ahem, ahem) Senator Al Franken was a staff writer on the early seasons of SNL. I honestly don’t remember if he was there from the beginning, i.e., the Chevy Chase years. I read the book about the early days of SNL a long time ago and I don’t quite recall the details. So let’s not wonder too much how there ever came to be a left-wing bias on that show.

    JVW (d2eeb5)

  5. tv people are needy whores I think

    needy deep down in a place where you need lots of purell to go

    but I’m partly responsible cause of sometimes I watch tv shows

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  6. Of course, SNL barely matters these days, although it may have hurt Sarah Palin.

    Interesting that “SNL” comes up in this thread since I mentioned it yesterday, but — politics aside — what truly fascinates me about that TV show is how it’s an illustration of mediocrity run amok. Or sort of like an Obama winning a Nobel Peace Prize, or, for that matter, a person of his disreputable background managing to become president in the first place.

    Mediocrity run amok is closely related to political correctness run amok, in which something that’s truly bad or truly dumb, or truly relevant and truly obvious nonetheless cannot be described as such — or mentioned at all — because it’s deemed, well, politically incorrect.

    I try to envision people watching SNL and presumably enjoying such a bad show, and I can’t help but think of the phenomenon of the “emperor’s new clothes.” But I’m assuming the people in Hollywood who still believe that show deserves to be nominated for and even on occasion win Emmy Awards, don’t have such an impaired sense of humor they’d go, “huh, what the hell does the ’emperor’s new clothes’ have to do with why I still watch SNL??!”

    Mark (6cdc70)

  7. I see a lot of people trying to claim that in the beginning SNL was non biased.

    That’s a lie. For the most part they expressed the general opinion of the hippie generation and were critical of “the establishment” and of general stupidity in government bureaucrats. (Which at the time was Republican.)

    For the most part they picked on Republicans far more than otherwise and of course after about 1980 with Reagan in office, they were pretty much one sided from then on.

    I grant that if some Democrat did something monumentally stupid or made a really really obvious gaffe, they might’ve had a small bit on that but we haven’t seen any of that with Obama and we’ve seen him commit some really enormous gaffes and lies that even the MFM couldn’t coverup completely. Yet SNL blithely ignored them all.

    It’s almost as if they’re . . . afraid to point out his faults. As if perhaps someone somewhere will become offended.

    Plus they don’t want to seem to be giving their ideological enemies any ammunition.

    jakee308 (e940d5)

  8. yeah, i think that increasingly there is a strain of democrats who cannot deal with any dissent at all. and humor is one of the more effective forms of dissent.

    Aaron "Worthing" Walker (23789b)

  9. 9- Aaron “Worthing” Walker, you have just described 95% of the population in Massachusetts.

    mg (31009b)

  10. You pretty much said it all, Patterico. There are also stories of Bush Sr. laughing out loud while watching Dana Carvey parody him. I liked Gilda Radner all the time, Jane Curtin when Dan Akroyd was beating on her, and John Belushi in some of the samurai skits. But otherwise, even in the ’70s I thought SNL was more disgusting than funny most of the time.

    nk (dbc370)

  11. Let me resonate some understanding for you, Seth Myers was part of the Journolist, as such he wrote
    he wrote Tina Fey’s scripts, yes it has always been an ideological weapon,

    narciso (3fec35)

  12. In her memoir, the Huntress, said she wanted to go on SNL as soon as possible, in order to diffuse it,
    instead headquarters waited till the last three weeks before the election,

    narciso (3fec35)

  13. Quite often the transcripts aren’t 100% correct (and they are all </i. “rush transcripts.”

    They never revise them.

    Sammy Finkelman (b4888e)

  14. Probably the degree of partisanship at Saturday Night Live varies from time to time.

    The worst thing is their distorted perception of reality. Some “jokes” don’t work without that.

    Sammy Finkelman (b4888e)

  15. Saturday Night LIve was only funny the first season.

    Sammy Finkelman (b4888e)

  16. Saturday Night Live may be awful, but some of the guests do put on some good performances. *cough*Justin Timberlake*cough*

    Xmas (0493b2)

  17. — Note in the following example how Jane attacks Dan using the language of the left, and how Dan responds by acting like a leftist stereotype of a right-winger . . .
    Dan Aykroyd: Tonight on “Point/Counterpoint”, Jane and I will argue Federal Aid for Abortions. Jane will take the Point for Federal Aid, and I will take the Counterpoint against. Jane?
    Jane Curtin: Safe abortions have always been available to the rich, Dan. You simply want to deny them to the poor, and if you succeed, poor women will be forced to get them anyway. They’ll be forced into the alleys with hangers, plungers and vacuum cleaners, risking death or mutilation. But you’d like that, wouldn’t you, Dan, you sadistic, elitist, sexist, racist, anti-humanist pig!
    Dan Aykroyd: Jane, you ignorant, misguided slut! Once again, you missed the point entirely. [ enraged ] Why should I pay hard-earned dollars so welfare tarts can have sex anytime they want, without regards to consequences? Haven’t these bimbos heard of abstinence? I, myself, haven’t had sex for two years – and I’m rich! Why should I foot the bill for killing unborn infants, anyway? I’ll pay for something practical like sterilization – but abortions? Never! With one exception – if I had been around when your mother was having you, not only would I have paid for the abortion, but I would have performed it myself!

    Icy (d3817a)

  18. I think the latter was supposed to be a parody of James J Kilpatrick’s thinking,

    narciso (3fec35)

  19. Unfunny, politically correct and about as edgy as Teletubbies.

    Colonel Haiku (963e6d)

  20. Hey, does anyone want to try to argue that Chevy Chase was funny after the first Vacation movie?

    “Fletch” came two years later, and it was a work of genius.

    Chase seems like an ass in real life, but he was once a brilliant comedian.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  21. He was riffing off Gregory MacDonald who was better material

    narciso (3fec35)

  22. James Downey was the only SNL writer who wasn’t a partisan moonbat.

    Colonel Haiku (963e6d)

  23. I give Chase credit, at least, for candor.

    Mitch (341ca0)

  24. Yeah, thanks, narciso. Back when I watched those segments on Saturday and then watched 60 Minutes on Sunday I never put the two together — but then 35 years later along you came to make everything clear.

    Icy (b22f5c)

  25. 26- I think he voted for o-blame-o

    mg (31009b)

  26. probably, but he’s best known for writing the ‘wild and crazy guys’ sketch for Steve Martin, basing it on some Eastern Europeans he met in the 70s,

    narciso (3fec35)

  27. Whether or not we want the personal to be the political, the Left has made it so. The Left has been running this game for well over half a century—more like 3/4 of a century.

    Yet conservative types keep plugging along, tortoise-like, totally oblivious to what is going on around them, and then wonder why they are shellacked at every turn.

    buzzsawmonkey (60b870)

  28. Saturday Night Live may be awful, but some of the guests do put on some good performances.

    The fact the show still manages to draw in rather well-known celebrities, and still apparently somehow creates a stir among so-called agenda setters (ie, the talking heads in the world of politics and culture) is fascinating. It’s analogous to me of the political situation in Venezuela or Argentina, or the federal bureaucracy in the US, or the public-school system throughout America, in which no matter how truly lousy, mediocre or half-assed something is, it nonetheless is able to take on a life of its own. Call it the “zombie syndrome.”

    Mark (267671)

  29. The American TV comedy show SNL is analogous to the political situation in Argentina? I find that a fascinating conclusion.

    elissa (ad3799)

  30. 😉

    nk (dbc370)

  31. Yep, I’m talking about something that’s blatantly sucky — eg, the policymaking and rule of a Hugo Chavez and his successor, or a truly bad TV show that’s been on the air for almost 40 years — nonetheless manages to outlive its purpose in life.

    Mark (267671)

  32. I ALWAYS found SCTV to be the funnier show. The talent on it was truly marvelous: Martin Short, John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Dave Thomas, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin… I mean, c’mon!

    If you missed Stan and Yosh Schmenge doing Led Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love” as a polka, you missed a great one, bub!

    Colonel Haiku (24650e)

  33. 36-Roger that, Col.

    mg (31009b)

  34. Nyuk, nyuk! Power to the punk people! I’m actually drinking a coffee right now and I have two cabbage rolls that I plan to warm up later.

    nk (dbc370)

  35. John Candy… there’s a guy who I really miss.

    Colonel Haiku (24650e)

  36. Candy made me lol, Col.

    mg (31009b)

  37. Agreed, mg. Bob and Doug Mckenzie too, eh? So many others.

    Colonel Haiku (24650e)

  38. Moranis and Flaherty had the talent of giving people comic relief.
    Ya sure.

    mg (31009b)

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