It’s interesting as Mike Huckabee became ascendant on the Republican side, that this video from the Canadian comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes surfaced. It features Arkansas governor Huckabee, among other Little Rock residents, congratulating our northern neighbor on its “National Igloo.” Here’s the bit:
Obviously no real traction here considering Huckabee handily won Iowa. One of the things comedians constantly assert is how what they do doesn’t necessarily have an impact. It’s practically a mantra by Jon Stewart when people ask about the weight of The Daily Show on politics. It’s part of the natural defense mechanism for comedians - saying “it’s a joke” gives you the room to work. Why cut out the flexibility that let you tell you joke in the first place?
Even so, people attribute some impact on a well placed barb or prank. A recent piece in the New Yorker on the Australian elections talked about why prime minister John Howard was not out-going prime minister John Howard. It related that Howard was “humiliated” at the APEC summit by the sketch group Chasers, which was “supposed to be the zenith of Howard’s premiership.” You may remember this bit as it was pretty ballsy - a prank where the team dressed up one of their own as Osama Bin Laden and put him in a motorcade to see how far into security they could penetrate. Here’s the televised result:
The story doesn’t necessarily put an excessive amount of weight on the event but it’s interesting how much humor is attributed to driving the discourse. Many viewers are doubtless thrilled at the return of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report tonight, even if they are disappointed by having to cross the Writers Guild pickets line. Feeling the absence of their voices during the primaries is something they value, a perspective that helps.
But in what way? I don’t think humor and comedy rarely have conversion abilities - it doesn’t necessarily change minds. But it’s ability to bind and connect further those who already see things one way, that’s the balm for when things don’t go your way and the fire to press your advantage. In other words, people who are laughing at Huckabee unaware that there’s no igloo are already not voting for him.
How much effect do you think humor and comedy will have on these year’s presidential campaign?