The Right’s Comedy Deficit

by Brien Jackson

I didn’t really think Wanda Sykes was all that funny at the WHCA dinner (to be fair, I don’t really think anyone is all that funny at the WHCA dinner. Even Colbert wasn’t all that funny for a good chunk of his routine, and most of the humor in his infamous appearance was the realization that he was actually doing this bit with Bush standing about 10 feet away from him), but the utterly predictable bleating about double standards from conservatives is ridiculous, and says a lot more about them than it does about anyone else.

As far as I can tell, it’s perfectly ok for white people to tell jokes about non-white people. I haven’t noticed any harm done to Jeffrey Ross’s career after this appearance (NSFW):

And I mean, that’s brutal. He calls Shaq a knuckle-dragging gorilla for crying out loud. And everyone is laughing hysterically. Of course, the important factor is context. Jeffrey Ross is a professional comedian, and the venue is a roast. That’s what happens at a roast. Everyone knows that going in, so everyone understands that it’s all in good fun. The same goes for George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, etc.

The problem the right has when they try to “joke” about Barack Obama, or minorities in general, is that they’re not really joking. Jokes have punchlines. There’s no punch line when Rush Limbaugh compares Obama to a terrorist or declares that you have to “bend over and grab your ankles” because he’s black. And so ultimately what this boils down to is more right-wing victimology; they’re mad that they don’t get carte blanche to be hateful and claim that they were “just joking” after the fact, no matter how little sense that makes, and so they claim a double standard exists and that they’re obviously victims of it, even if it makes no sense under even modest scrutiny. I mean really, watch a couple of Lisa Lampanelli routines and tell me that white people can’t make fun of minorities.

But what the Malkinesque right really wants is cover to be more overt racists. Plain and simple.