Debating Comedy

Friday, October 03, 2008

James Downey, veteran writer for Saturday Night Live, and Andy Borowitz, humorist and columnist for The New Yorker magazine, find the humor in last night's debate.


Andy Borowitz and James Downey

Comments [34]

Joe from New Haven

Here's the thing that I think is worth lampooning Obama over (and I'm voting for him). Remember the old SNL skit about the store in the mall that only sold scotch tape? How about a skit about a bookstore that only sells books about Barak Obama? For a guy who's supposted to be light on experience and a "blank slate" he seems to be the subject of more books than Harry Potter and seems to be catching up on World War II or how to look good naked. Every time I walk into Barnes and Noble there seems to be a new one on display. The over-adulation is fair game. Who buys these? I usually only buy books about people I dislike, Cheney, Bush, Bin Laden, etc.
P.S. The overused "maverick" brings up potential for a skit involving a McCain Palin visit to a gay leather bar and Sara donning a provocative costume change. Levi...I'd like to have a word with you!!!

Oct. 03 2008 02:59 PM
Rachel from Bronx

Someone on air commented in surprise on a number of viewers losing interest in and turning off the debates, then joked that maybe they were hoping for Saturday Night Live. I got bored (but continued to listen) because the candidates had very little substantive to say. The only reason why I watched was to see Palin post-Couric. I skipped all other debates over the last year because my main interest is policy; policy-less debates don't influence my vote. Would harder-hitting moderators move the debates in that direction? Not if journalists aren't willing to press candidates in that direction.

Oct. 03 2008 12:41 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I agree w/Andy too. After Palin's acceptance speech, I thought she had a great future as an insult comic.

Oct. 03 2008 11:15 AM
hjs from 11211

i guess simple people like simple leaders

Oct. 03 2008 11:11 AM
Jonathan from Lower East Side

Did the sound clip of Palin on Katie Couric remind anyone else of the Miss Teen USA contestant (S Carolina rep.) Lauren Caitlin Upton's well publicized answer to a question about why many Americans can't locate the US on a map?

Oct. 03 2008 11:11 AM
Peter from Park Slope

Biden is very friendly with some Republican members of congress. I saw Biden speak years ago with the Republican Senator from Delaware and they were very friendly and casual with each other on the panel. No one accused Biden of being inappropriate for calling the senator by his first name. And no one suggested that Biden (or the other senator) were diminishing one another by using first names. If Joe Biden is going to base his campaign on the assumed sentiments of "some Republican feminists," then Biden's campaign is in bad shape. It is so sad that being friendly with your political opponent is now seen as negative or unfair by some feminists.

Oct. 03 2008 11:11 AM
Lou S from central NJ

Does anyone remember the computer programs Parry and Eliza? They carried out a typed conversation, pretending to be human, and actually fooled some people into thinking they were. Actually they were pretty simple programs, that basically looked for keywords in what the user typed and responded with pre-written text. I bet they could have done just as well as Gov. Palin last night.

Oct. 03 2008 11:09 AM
HB from brooklyn

I think Sarah Palin's personality and intelligence are, amongst all the canditates', the most like George W Bush's.

Oct. 03 2008 11:02 AM
louis from asbury park

From Andrew Sullivan Blog today... Is It Really That Much To Ask?

Jeffrey Goldberg wants a press conference. So do I. It should be the most basic requirement of a candidate. So why will they not allow it?
I Would love to see that SAT Night Live Bit!

Oct. 03 2008 11:02 AM
Jesse Califano from TPA/ NYC/

What's really happening is that SNL and Daily Show are NOT general comedic entertainment. These have become political statement shows that attract audiences with a certain political position.
Those who don't think mocking specifc politicians is at all funny- simply don't attend these shows or make up their audiences.
Hence- the applause rather than laughter syndrome per Tina fey.

Oh Well. . .

Oct. 03 2008 10:59 AM
Robert from New York

Brian: not sure that your comment about "blackout" with respect to Biden was fair. I watched the debate last night and found Biden's comments cogent and to the point (which is not what I expected). I fear you are falling prey to both the need to be "fair and balanced" (both sides fail in some way) as well as a preference to stay away from analytical answers in politics. Sometimes hard questions require hard answers.

Please, please try not to be so "balanced". The role that Stewart and Colbert fulfill is one where the need for balance is erased -- and in being able to be more honest they are more truthful.

Oct. 03 2008 10:59 AM

I actually think Palin displayed a very tacky lack of respect for Gwen Ifill and Joe Biden with her snarky 'I don't care what you ask I will talk about what I want'... how can your one panelist think that is acceptable behaviour for a debate? I can't wait to see Tina skewer this lack of manners and courtesy... 'Bridget to Nowhere' was just plain terrible!

Oct. 03 2008 10:59 AM
Peter from Brooklyn

What happened to the somber tone of seriousness we once had as a nation to important issues? The fact is, comedians have helped to create a place where Sarah Palin can be taken serious.

The fact is - while I agree with their politics, I certainly don't think they help.

And Tina Fey is just not funny. Unless talentless narcissism is funny.

Oct. 03 2008 10:58 AM
yh from brooklyn

I agree with Andy -- Palin is an ambitious, ruthless femme-bot disguised as the girl-next-door. She's frightening, mean, and fascinating in a strangely mesmerizing package.

Oct. 03 2008 10:57 AM
Ruth f from Bayside, NY

I know people like Sara Palin - a motormouth, articulate but basically an airhead. Her performance was A+. Her content vacuous.

Oct. 03 2008 10:57 AM
Leonardo Andres

Would people stop calling sarah palin stupid! im sorry I do not think anyone who has access to a media outlet should use such juvenile ways to criticize someobody.

Oct. 03 2008 10:56 AM
Leonardo Andres

I used to love the daily show when it was irrelevant. But now the daily show has gotten preachy, and colbert is heading in the same direction.

Now that the daily show thinks its relevant it has gotten a little cocky for me.

Oct. 03 2008 10:53 AM
Georges from Manhattan

I think there was a line that was completely verbatim - the "I don't know but I'll get back to yah!"

Oct. 03 2008 10:53 AM
Charlie Roberts from Oceanport, NJ

While I still spot check it once in a while, I stopped watching Saturday Night Live when it stopped being funny. MAD TV picked up satire ball and ran with it.

Oct. 03 2008 10:53 AM
Leonardo Andres

Whether you like Palin or not you have to admit that the cbs interview is comedy gooold!

Oct. 03 2008 10:51 AM
M-L. from Bergen County

I watched the SNL Palin/Fey piece and then watched the Couric "interview." It was hard to tell the difference except for the location. Astounding!

Oct. 03 2008 10:51 AM
w from Manhattan

She asked to call him Joe, and yet all throughout the debate she referred to him as "Senator Biden." That request at the beginning was obviously meant for her audience.

Oct. 03 2008 10:49 AM
Amy from Manhattan

It's SNL's fault? Gee, I thought it was Palin's own poor performance in high-profile interviews that lowered those expectations.

Oct. 03 2008 10:49 AM
jawbone from Parsippany, NJ

Found the article--I'd checked Business, not Front Page--

Oct. 03 2008 10:48 AM
Snoop from Brooklyn

Dear BL show:

Regarding your statement that comments must be relevant to the actual show on the air... well, we are following Palin rules today.

I like chocolate ice cream. Yummy yummy.

And I want to give all Americans a pony. And tax cuts! Yay!

Vote Palin (and mccain)!

What's the show about?

Oct. 03 2008 10:46 AM
the good witch from nj

i dunno, i tried this one yesterday, and all i read afterwards was seth from park slope making everyone else wonder what-was-up with the english language in his world i'll try again
palindrone - (pa lin drone) 1. [a statement by Sarah Palin] when Sarah Palin says one thing, but means the complete opposite. e.g. "Country First" 2. when Sarah Palin misconstrues something she or Barack Obama does/says so as to be totally ass-backwards, and keeps repeating it, and repeating it, so on and so forth. e.g. "..and as for that Bridge-to-Nowhere, I said ""Thanks, but no-thanks.""
any takers? hope i atleast madeya' [pron: madeJah via S.P.] smile a bit.

Oct. 03 2008 10:44 AM

Or, if she called him Joe "six pack" Biden....

Oct. 03 2008 10:44 AM
jawbone from Parsippany, NJ

I missed the article title, author of the article on the SEC decision 4 years ago

Please post if you caught it. Not mentioned in the segment listings. Much appreciated.

Oct. 03 2008 10:44 AM
Jesse Califano from TPA/ NYC/

Yes- Life is unfair!

It's OK for Governor Palen to refer to Senator Biden by his first name- because Senator Biden is quite the hack politician that fancies himself as 'Joe-Everyman'! <-(What a jerk!)

Oct. 03 2008 10:43 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

By calling him Joe she actually made him seem like the regular if she had called him Joey...

Oct. 03 2008 10:37 AM
D.G. Josephs from Brooklyn Heights

How come Palin could call Senator Biden, "Joe" while if he called her Sarah, some Republican feminists would jump down his throat. She could diminish his position with "Joe" while he was forced, for fear of feminist backlash, to call her "Governor Palin." NOT FAIR.

Daniela Josephs, Femninist of NY

Oct. 03 2008 10:35 AM
D.G. Josephs from Brooklyn Heights

Why aren't the commentators asking about Cindy McCain's refusal to disclose her tax returns EVEN IF SHE IS FIRST LADY? This is a HUGE ISSUE OF DEMOCRACY. If the married McCain's were in the White House, they would be able to accept all kinds of influence peddling or be the subjects of all kinds of black mail to behave in a certain way, without the people ever knowing. It would be tantamount to having a queen and king in the White House with no oversight of their business dealings or ability to accept influence through Mrs. McCain's return never being disclosed. This is a big and real issue and NO COMMENTATORS ARE COVERING IT. WHY? You can check the facts on this in a spring issue of the New York TImes, Editorial Pages. I think it was MAY 2008.

Oct. 03 2008 10:33 AM
Lucille Gordon from United States

Sarah Palin has proved that beauty pageant training works. Smile, smile, smile and do anything to win. Be ingratiating and smile, smile, smile, smile.

Her belief system simplifies every problem. I can't understand why she even mentions paying for kids to go to college when clearly it is not necessary to know anything to govern.

wink wink see ya

Oct. 03 2008 10:14 AM
BL Show from Varick St. Studios

[[We've already had to remove a few comments from the board. Please remember the WNYC posting policy. Remain civil. Keep it brief. And, don't forget, relevant to the discussion that is taking place on the air. Which, incidentally, doesn't start for 1.5 hours. Thanks!

-BL Show-]]

Oct. 03 2008 08:52 AM

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