Huckabee and the National Igloo: In Politics is it Ever Just a Joke?

Filed Under Pranks, Satire

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?

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Comments

Posted by Dingus on 01/07  at  10:33 PM

The only reason this hasn’t affected Huckabee at all is because no one outside Canada knows about it.  Spread the word!

Posted by Kreisler on 01/08  at  04:32 PM

re: affect of humor

I did a gig at Notre Dame in Fall of ‘06 and a student ended up interviewing me about satire/The Daily Show/changing people’s minds.  Here’s his paper: http://www.nd.edu/~dwemple/FWhome.html, which is, well, a college student’s paper.  Take it or leave it.

My thought about ‘the power of satire’ is that it can’t necessarily change minds (and it shouldn’t necess. attempt to), but it enables people to be critical (or, you might say, allows them to be cynical).

If every night, Stewart repeats what, say, a politician says and then immediately shows “the truth,’ then viewers will - consciously or not - learn that pattern. 

In reading the paper or watching a speech on their own, they’ll instinctively expect the “what that really means” or “the truth is” or “the hypocrisy is”... and, eventually/hopefully, they’ll learn to search for and discover it themselves.

IMHO, the spreading of such critical thought - as opposed to the spreading of opinions - is a noble effort, vital to not just the electoral process, but, simply, (sfx: trumpets blare), The Survival of All Life in the Known Universe.

p.s. Book me somewhere someone.

Posted by Amy on 01/09  at  08:18 PM

I’ve seen Huckabee on several late night comedy shows, including pre-presidentail candidacy on The Colbert Report. On all occasions he’s always struck me a good-natured guy with a great sense of humor, has it ever occured to anyone that he might have just been playing along??

Posted by JackSzwergold on 01/14  at  04:15 PM

How good natured can someone be when they don’t believe in Darwinism and the theory of evolution?

Posted by Bill on 02/07  at  02:01 AM

Sometimes.. Unfortunately I think it is…

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