For class, I recently had to read a book called Politics is a Joke. Although I initially did not want to read it (it looked a bit boring and not that interesting) I was pleasantly surprised and really liked it. In it, the authors use a blend of funny jokes from TV, analysis of those jokes, and in-depth statistics to help show the reader how late night comedy shows affect American politics. It is a book that I would definitely encourage you to read!
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In this book, the three authors use a unique format. Instead of focusing first on the jokes told, then statistics, then analysis (or any order of those), they instead focus on the subject of the jokes and how those jokes affected American politics or American presidents. For example, one chapter is about jokes about American presidents, especially George W Bush, and another is about policy-related jokes.
I thought that format was excellent. By making the chapters short and all about different subjects, the authors were able to hold my interest a lot longer. However, I think they drew from Jay Leno jokes too often and should have used their other sources more often.
But, the chapters were still interesting. The jokes referenced in them were mostly funny, the statistics were useful for gaining an overarching understanding of how the subject of late-night comedy jokes and variety of them has shifted over time, and the analysis was usually spot on. The chapters were well done.
Additionally, I thought the authors did a good job of remaining politically neutral and creating a neutral examination of late night comedy. Doing that is particularly hard nowadays, so I really appreciated it. Instead of getting into the weeds of who was right or wrong in certain feuds between politicians and comedians, the authors simply stated what happened and why. I liked that.
Finally, one subject brought up in this book is whether there is a left-leaning bias in jokes. The authors’ answer is yes, there is. Almost all late-night comedians are left-leaning, and although they used to seem somewhat neutral and make fun of everybody equally, they have now begun to focus almost exclusively on Republicans.
Comedians attack Republican politicians for small gaffes, but hold off on attacking Democrats for anything. The statistics the authors provide help to show the magnitude of that left-leaning comedic bias, and I found that chapter very interesting.
Some of my summary of Politics is a Joke was analysis, so this section doesn’t have to be too long. But one thing I would like to say is that this book is definitely worth reading. Especially the sections on the bias comedians have against Republicans, and how that has affected modern politics.
As this book states, many Americans get their political information only from late-night comedy. That is problematic for a few reasons. One is that they aren’t getting real news, but might not realize that. Late-night comedy programs are often intentionally fake news shows; the fake news is funny. But people watching might think it’s real if that’s their only source of information.
Because so many Americans only get their news from fake-news comedy programs, it is problematic that so many of those programs have a distinct left-leaning bias. Take, for example, SNL’s portrayal of President George W Bush (which is hilarious). That portrayal is funny, it makes him look like an idiot, but unfair. He went to Yale and Wharton Business School, he definitely wasn’t stupid. But few Americans knew that because their only source of information about him came from late-night comedy that portrayed him as an idiot. That was harmful to his presidency and eroded faith in the American presidency and this book helps show, in an unbiased way, why that is a problem. Andrew Breitbart also discusses why it is a problem in his excellent book, Righteous Indignation. I really liked that because it is so important to realize.
Read Politics is a Joke. Not only is it funny because the jokes in it are funny, but it also provides good analysis of a complex and interesting problem in American politics. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
By: Gen Z Conservative