Friday, November 25, 2016

As Molly Would Often Say To Fibber: 'Tain't Funny, McGee

Like most narcissists, Il Douche is humorless: he doesn't laugh at jokes told by others and he cannot tell a joke himself. Nor does he realize that He.Is.A.Joke. Smiles and laughter will be in short supply in the White House after January 20, 2017. In the meantime, Eags provides a nice review of presidential humor over the years. The POTUS 44 wonders what he will do in the two years before his younger daughter graduates from Sidwell Friends School in DC. This blogger suggests that the POTUS 44 consider stand up comedy rouytine at DC Improv. After all, the new administration will provide comedy bits galore. Hell, if a reality TV star can become POTUS, why can't a former POTUS do stand up? If this is a (fair & balanced) attempt to remedy the lack of humor at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
A Farewell To The Comedian In Chief
By Eags (Timothy Egan)

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Obama Roasts Trump (2011 White House Correspondents Dinner)

I miss him already. Miss his steady rationality, his I-got-this mien, the eight years without a hint of personal scandal. And not to be overlooked, I miss the wit of Barack Obama. No president has had a better comic sensibility.

Let’s face it: we’re going to need to laugh to get through the presidency of Donald Trump and the Monster’s Ball of his administration. Trump can’t tell a joke, nor can he take one. He was graceless and unfunny at the Al Smith dinner last month, getting booed for his boorishness. And he was petulant and petty with his tweet after a “Saturday Night Live” skit had him asking Siri about the Islamic State.

Thankfully, jokes at the expense of the highest office in the land are fully protected by the Constitution. But jokes coming from the occupant of that office are rare, and rarely funny. Obama is the exception.

Anyone can write a joke. Few can deliver one. Obama has great timing, and a sense of self-deprecation honed over years of making fun of his name and his ears.

Here’s a highlight reel to call upon during the coming White House humor drought:

While being interviewed for a post-presidency job not long ago, an employer played by Stephen Colbert was skeptical that Obama had any useful skills. “I did win the Nobel Peace Prize,” said the president.

“Oh, what was that for?”

“To be honest, I don’t know,” said Obama.

You would think that having your legitimacy challenged would make you Nixonian dark or Trumpian enraged. For Obama, the birther nonsense has given him some of his best material. So there he was in a video for the 2016 White House Correspondents Dinner, waiting in line at the department of motor vehicles to get a driver’s license.

“You’re going to need a birth certificate,” says the clerk. Obama pulls one from his pocket. “It’s real,” he deadpans. Another video showed him getting retirement tips from former House Speaker John Boehner. Obama looked at the bright side: “I can wear those mom jeans again.”

Appearing on “Between Two Ferns,” the mock cable show with Zach Galifianakis, Obama was asked, “What’s it like to be the last black president?” POTUS didn’t blink. “What’s it like for this to be the last time you’ll ever talk to a president?”

Trump sends out angry tweets demanding apologies, and cyberbullying his many enemies. Obama used Twitter to comment on an unusual recipe for guacamole in The New York Times. “Not buying peas in the guac,” he wrote, a bipartisan conclusion.

The secret source of humor is not joy, Mark Twain said, but sorrow. And in looking back at the presidents who could tell a joke, you see people surrounded by tragedy. Obama may have found some of his inspiration from the man who held the union together at its darkest time, Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln’s best-known comic line came during a debate, when he was accused of being two-faced. “Honestly, “ he said, “if I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

Teddy Roosevelt, who lost his wife and his mother on the same day, was a buoyant prankster and joke-teller, and probably the only president to skinny dip in the Potomac. His progressive agenda was often stymied in the Senate. TR returned the fire. “When they call the roll,” he said, “the senators do not know whether to announce present or not guilty.”

His fifth cousin, Franklin Roosevelt, loved a good joke, and not just while mixing drinks during his regular White House cocktail hour. At the depth of the Great Depression, in signing legislation that loosened the worst grip of Prohibition, he said, “this would be a good time for a beer.”

Harry Truman gave us the line about how to find a friend in Washington — “Get a dog.” John F. Kennedy parried concern about his wealthy father buying the election with a telegram he read for the press: “Dear Jack: don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide. Love, Dad.”

Ronald Reagan, who learned to glide through public life on a carpet of soft humor, had this famous quip to his wife after being shot: “Honey, I forgot to duck.”

Obama’s humor is droll, with a bite. He noted that Dick Cheney said he was the worst president of his lifetime. “Which is interesting, because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime.”

The 44th president is leaving office with soaring approval ratings, or as he put it: “The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide my major.”

In Greece last week, after touring the timeless monuments of an ancient civilization, Obama was pestered with questions about the fate of the planet when he hands the office over to Trump. He offered some reassuring words, echoing Yogi Berra. “I always say that the only thing that is the end of world is the end of the world.” ###

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

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