In a world filled with turmoil and terror, it can be hard to find a silver lining in almost every news story. From monologues on well-known late night television shows such as “The Daily Show” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” to stand-up comedians’ routines, you can always find someone making fun of political figures or reporting on current events, cracking a few jokes here and there.
When done tastefully, a joke about tragedy can help bring lightness to what we feel and more importantly bring about an understanding of the tragedy itself. Fear can be put down through making fun of the enemy, an idea reinforced by ISIS bits on “The Daily Show” that show the ironic nature of their organization. In doing so, talk show hosts expose a vulnerability of an entity that people think is invulnerable.
The right to criticize our government is one of the most important rights, and through a comedic rhetoric more people are willing to listen.
Not only does comedy affect world events, but it also greatly affects the political world with the upcoming election season. Flipping through the channels, there are never-ending jokes about Donald Trump’s hair, face, fear of immigrants, and love of walls; statements about how Jeb Bush is a “low energy man, very low energy man” and his creepy attitude towards his daughter. Jokes about how Bernie Sanders is a baby-looking man or how Bush is actually an endangered species may seem unimportant at first, but they highlight the most important things about the role of comedy in politics and vice versa.
Yes, no one really cares about Trump’s hair, but it’s important that comedians lighten up the mood by commenting on his racist rhetoric with something even more outrageous.
Talk show hosts are notable for calling out the government and corrupt regulations across the board. For example, Jon Stewart, acclaimed ex-host of The Daily Show, brought up the expiring health care bill for 9/11 first responders and legislative inadequacy. Stewart and several veterans filmed a piece that aired on The Daily Show in an episode dedicated to bringing awareness to the healthcare bill. Fortunately, with enough pressure, the Zadroga Act was effectively renewed.
“All I have is a camera and inherent sense of [morality]. If that can be useful in any way, I’m honored that that monkey trick can get the some attention,” Stewart said to the Huffington Post.
Through a comedic lens, Stewart discussed corrupt government officials and a deteriorating democratic system, which allowed us to realize that we are not aware of what happens unless it directly affects us. Stewart brought awareness to a pressing issue about incompetence in the government and the lack of care that goes in aiding first responders.
Comedy allows society to see their government and political candidates on a more personal level, bridging their political lives with their personal lives. Notable appearances of several presidents, such as Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, show that there is an increasing number of presidents becoming more relatable to our people through talk show interviews.
Even now with our election season, we see a wide variety of candidates visiting talk shows, hoping to become favorable in the eyes of the viewers. Some are more charismatic than others, but ultimately it is an important tool in understanding who they are as people and if they can take a joke or two.
Ultimately, comedic adaptations of political and current events reel in an ever-increasing young audience. The rhetoric that most comedians use is appealing to a younger audience as they inherit a broken world, seeing some silver linings in the darkest times.