Comedians do more than make us laugh.
They’re the truth tellers of our age, the funny souls who break down societal woes and frustrations. In short, they often say the things we wish we could, but aren’t always sure how.
It’s what powered Howard Stern’s radio empire for decades. Raw, unflinching honesty.
Had he clung to his Lesbian Dial a Date shtick his followers would have quickly grown bored. It’s why Lenny Bruce mattered, too, as did Richard Pryor, George Carlin and even Sam Kinison.
That’s not how comedy works in the 21st century, though.
Comedians are, to paraphrase John Nolte, Palace Guards protecting progressives at all costs. The joke, and the truth, routinely come a distant second. It’s about spin, gaslighting and outright deception.
You won’t see a finer example than this week’s “minilogue” featuring Jimmy Kimmel and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Kimmel’s new forum, a consequence of the current pandemic, finds him savaging President Donald Trump as if the nation weren’t facing its gravest threat in decades. Thursday, he used his no frills platform to interview Biden, the Democrats’ likely presidential candidate in the fall.
Biden has been in the news for a number of embarrassing reasons:
None of those topics came up during their conversation.
Instead, Kimmel let Biden give talking points, attack President Trump and offered not an ounce of skepticism over his answers.
Here’s a sample, unasked question that’s tough and fair – would you have stopped Chinese people from coming to America as early as President Trump did? Why or why not?
Kimmel also brought up the false news story that President Trump killed the nation’s pandemic response division.
“No, the White House didn’t ‘dissolve’ its pandemic response office. I was there,” wrote former National Security Council adviser Tim Morrison for the Washington Post on Monday.
“It has been alleged by multiple officials of the Obama administration, including in The Post, that the president and his then-national security adviser, John Bolton, ‘dissolved the office’ at the White House in charge of pandemic preparedness,” Morrison wrote. “Because I led the very directorate assigned that mission, the counterproliferation and biodefense office, for a year and then handed it off to another official who still holds the post, I know the charge is specious.”
Not only did the host led Biden off the hook on any challenging questions, he made audiences dumber along the way.
Now, compare Kimmel’s Biden bromance with fellow comic Joe Rogan. The mind behind the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast routinely makes waves for his unabashed honesty. He promoted Sen. Bernie Sanders, blasted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for silencing conservatives and invited conspiracy theorist Alex Jones into his studio for a chat.
He has no distinct ideology. He just wants to talk and share his two cents on the day’s biggest issues. It’s why he recently said of Biden, “Stop. Pause. He can’t be president” after an egregious gaffe.
This week, Rogan tripled down on that obvious, inescapable point.
“You have to be able call out s**t that’s wrong on your side,” Rogan began. “And this is one of the problems that the Democratic Party is having right now with this Joe Biden guy. You guys gotta be able to call it out, you can’t let this slide, because everybody else see’s it and Trump is going to eat him alive. He’s going to eat that guy alive.”
“The guy can barely remember what he’s talking about while he’s talking,” Rogan continued.
Now, if Biden himself entered Rogan’s studio the host wouldn’t be as unrelenting with his criticism. You treat guests differently, especially on a show known for its entertainment musings. Still, it’s unlikely Rogan wouldn’t push the vice president into some uncomfortable, but fair, directions.
Kimmel, by comparison, let Biden use him as a campaign apparatus, presumably free of charge.
The age of truth-telling comedians is clearly over.