by Jessie Roberts
Frank Rich looks beyond Dennis Miller to Greg Gutfeld, “a signature personality on two daily Fox News shows … : The giggly The Five (in late afternoon) and the fiercer Red Eye (scheduled by Roger Ailes in the stunt time slot of 3 a.m.)”:
Gutfeld is more of a wisecrack artist than a comedian and, like Miller and other comics on the right, is careful to label himself a libertarian, so damaged is the conservative brand. But if you listen to Gutfeld on Fox or read his recent best-selling manifesto, Not Cool, he seems much more of a standard-issue conservative and, in keeping with that, older than he actually is (49). His targets are the usual shopworn suspects, some of whom are so far removed from the main arena of 21st-century liberalism that comic complaints about them are deadly on arrival: Rachel Carson, Yoko Ono, Hurricane Carter, Howard Zinn, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oliver Stone, and even Dan Quayle’s old fictional bête noire, Murphy Brown. In Not Cool, Sean Penn gets 18 references, and even Robert Redford merits nine. Like much of the right, Gutfeld can’t stop fighting battles from the 1960s that are increasingly baffling to post-boomer audiences. It’s as if the clock stopped with the Vietnam War. …
If there’s one universal rule of comedy, it is, as Gutfeld himself has said, that “it’s hard to be funny without being truthful.”
But when he jokes that politically correct Americans are relabeling Fort Hood terrorism “workplace violence” and that they would rather use the term “unlicensed pharmacists” than “drug dealers,” he seems to lack any firsthand knowledge of conversation as practiced on the ground in present-day America. His examples of p.c. speech sound instead like the typically outrageous anomalies unearthed by Fox News. He needs to get out of the studio and meet some young people.
Rich reviews Jeff Dunham – whose act with the puppet “Achmed the Dead Terrorist” can be seen above – more favorably:
The gifted ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, as commercially successful a conservative comedian as there is (and one of the most successful touring comedians in the country, period), is best known for Achmed the Dead Terrorist, a puppet given to one-liners like “Where are all the virgins that bin Laden promised me?” Achmed can be funny, not least because he is a goofy, not hectoring, comic creation. And Dunham has a worthy comic nemesis in terrorism, much as Mel Brooks found in Hitler. The trouble with this material is its inevitable shelf life as 9/11 and its ensuing wars keep receding into the rearview mirror of American memory. There’s a reason why the playwright George S. Kaufman long ago said that “satire is what closes on Saturday night.”