Beginning in some sense driving politics and how

Beginning in about 1992 the age of political humor took off. This is book “Political is a Joke How TV Comedians Are Remaking Political Life Gives us an insight on how comedians are in some sense driving politics and how we discuss politics. While before it was believed that news stations and journalist drove these conversations, this book shows us how that is changing through the use of comedy on television. We read a large number of statistics and are even given the drawbacks of this change.

But primarily we are given clear examples of what material is used and who is targeted as well as how that drives what people think of political figures, in particular presidents or presidental candidates. This book as a whole provides a great amount of data and examples of how TV comedians have shaped and are continuing shaping how the people of America perceive political figures. While the date is strong and the book is serious, not based around the jokes themselves but how the jokes are influencing people, the low point of this book, in my opinion is that Unfortunately, It is hard to, if identify one clear orienting question the text sets out to answer.  This book has eight chapters of content including the introduction chapter, and ends with an extensive bibliography to cite the many types of sources and data used to create this book.

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In the beginning of the book we are met with the fact that comedians do in fact have a correlation to how people view political candidates. We are introduced with an example of how people see political comedy as a legitimate alternative to a traditional news source, the example stating that in the 2012 election, about 30 percent of people gained political knowledge about the campaign through a late-night comedy shows. We are also given a brief history into the history of humor in terms of its relation to politics.

  As continue throughout the book we next go to Chapter 2 labeled: The Rise of Late Night Comedy, we learn through examples are data, how this type of humor can and does continue to shape how people in the United States view and understand how the political system works. We learn that not only does this type of humor not only shapes the way people understand political as a whole, but also the way people feel about the political figure that is being “joked” about. We learn that the power these comedians and late-night talk shows hold goes beyond how and individual feels about the political person or party and can in fact spread large types of ideas or beliefs about a person or campaign as a whole. For example, small half-truths can be heavily focused on in TV Comedian and cause a wide spread greater belief of this idea, these ideas generally being negative.

  As the book continues we are given more and more examples of how these instances have happened. For example, in Chapter 3 we are given the example of President Ford. Who might have been one of the most athletic presidents, and generally was not known for being “clumsy” before the TV incident, was pegged as clumsy and unable to walk correctly by many after he was filmed falling while walking down the steps off of Air Force one. The extreme idea that President Ford was extremely clumsy did not come from general news sources but instead gained a massive amount of attention through the Saturday Night Live Show. Where the opening of every show started with a fall, and the representation of the cast members bumping into objects, which was meant to show how President Ford “likely” was all the time.

This was in 1975, and even then, this gained a massive amount of attention. After this event should there be any fall or accident by President Ford the press would completely focus on how “clumsy” he was.  As the book continues we learn of how Presidents are the prime target of Late Night Comedy, as well as Presidental Candidates.

With the primary target, holding the most amount of jokes for his public scandals, being Bill Clinton. We also learn that over 75% of the jokes reported in tis book were sex-scandal related. Bill Clinton is mentioned more than anyone else through this book and correlation has had the most Late-Night Comedy Jokes about him and his public scandal than anyone else. We see that the denial of Bill Clinton’s Scandals only gave TV comedians more to joke about. The books show us that Bill Clinton was joked about not only for his extremely public sex scandals but also his anger, eating habits, and the scandal of Whitewater. Following Clinton in terms of amount of jokes was President George W.

Bush. Which primarily focused on jokes about his intelligence as well as the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book also tells us that the George W. Bush jokes took a short break after 9/11 happened. Another main point in tis point was the fact that President Obama did not have many public scandals and because of that we were not often joked about by Late Night Comedians and when he was it was about his calm personality or the relations seen by some as cults.

 Through the first three fourths of this book we are given a large about of examples of jokes used and how they were largely and most commonly able to crete a negative viewpoint about the person who the jokes were targeted at. However, as we continue through the book we being to see more of how these comedian outtakes on the political figures often mirrors the news coverage about said candidate. We are introduced to the idea that the traditional news coverage and TV comedians reinforce ideas. We are given examples of how TV comedians joking about you probably means there is some substance to what is being joeked about, as these comedians must base there jokes off something.

One of the examples were given is the presidential debate in 2000 were Gore changed the way he used to normally represented himself, causing it to be the main topic of Saturday Night Live. We learn that the candidates who are under fire from these types of jokes are aware that they sway the opinions of people, specifically people who get their facts about a candidate from Late Night Comedy Shows. We learn that in order to fight back against this, political figures will come onto the same shows that jokes about them. As a way to be able to control what they are representing to these people.   All in all, this book lays out for us not only who is targeted by TV comedians but what is targeted, how the public perceives this information as well as how political figures work to combat against it. The number of examples and data throughout the book are extremely strong.

 However, is remains difficult to understand what one question is attempting to be answered by this text other can lots of facts and examples. This book has many great qualities such as the amount of data and examples as well as the ability to tie said examples to concepts such as the changing views of people on politics. Some of the downfalls of this book include the information presentations as well as the lack of specific question being answered. I will be going through these as well as other strength and weakness of this books throughout the rest of my critical review.  One thing this book did well as is providing forms of contrast and comparing different concepts or examples. An example of this is when the authors compare Johny Carson, someone who was on the Tonight Show and Colbert who was on the Colbert Report.

And they showed how Carson rarely told jokes that would hold any sort of repercussions or backlash from his viewers, however in contrast, Colbert who would often provide critiques of both politics and mainstream media and did not tr to only present wat he believed most viewers would agree with.  I believe these types of comparisons throughout the book showed us how much political jokes and politics as covered by secondary news forms has changed through the years.  Another success in this book is that not only are we told about how and why political humor shapes the views and beliefs of people but we are told about some of the drawbacks of political humor and how it works.

It discusses that some people are easier for TV comedians to target than others. However, I would have liked information more in depth in regards to the fact that many presidents, surely, had more political scandals than were brought to the surface and through TV Comedy some of these presidents received more of a pass than others. For example, President Obama had very few political jokes made about him, and the public believes to hold less belief that he has many scandals in his personal life, however it could be that he had a greater amount of scandals, just less than weere public than most. However, I understand why this book did not go into detail on a subject such as this one, especially in terms of President Obama, because he is greatly known for being almost scandal free a however I just would have liked to see more of how this information cannot clearly represent what a person’s personal life is like. I also believe this book did a The book also does a great job of offering qualitative approach on exactly how politicians behaved on these TV Comedy shows.

For an example, the chapter on “If you cant beat them Join Them.  It is described how the political appearances changed from President Nixon’s “approach of “Sock it to me” as presented on the show “Laugh in” in that aired in 1968, all the way to Bill Clinton’s playing he saxophone during the Today Show in 1988 and how the appearances are that we see today. I thought these examples and representations were great because it makes it interesting to think about hoq today’s events would be presented and how different thinks are today especially with the last presidential campaign. While the examples were clear I think it would have been better for the book to also include what might continue to happen on Late Night Comedian TV based on the way things have changed in the past. In this book we learn that Republican candidates were joked about more often than Democrats and we are given examples from both Saturday Night live, which is discussed a lot through this book as well as other examples.

We are shown that President Obama was not as targeted as McCain, Palin, and Bush during the 2008 campaign for the presidency. It is stated that Sarah Palin had as many jokes made about her in a matter of months as Obama did the entire year. The book did a great job at providing many examples that argued how unfair the perceptions about certain candidates were and how these perceptions came from bias networks as well as comedians that only targeted specific candidates.  Once I finished this book I felt as though I was overloaded with information. From the easy to understand because similar jokes and Late-Night Show concepts were familiar to me all the way to an overload of statistics on financial scandals and how they played into jokes as well as how Comedians hold a lot of power and that can be easily abuse. I read the book once at a leisurely pace, to get an idea of what exactly it was over. Then, the second time I went through the book with a more fine-tooth comb approach, Highlighting and making notes of what was important.

I believe for an undergraduate who has an interest in Political Science, I learned a large amount of new information. However, for the general publish I would argue that this book was not easy to understand and although the examples are useful to showing the concepts in action, the amount of statistics was overwhelming.  Since the book did not set out to answer a clear question but instead represented us with facts and examples about how Late-Night TV has evolved, who it targets, how it targets those people, and some of the strengths and weakens of Late-Night TV, it completed this well. I believe with that being the goal my many critiques would be to include more of a critical question to be answered besides “Does Political Comedy shape how American’s perceive candidates” because I believe that is established very early on and is well known from other books and theories presented in the world of politics.

I believe maybe the question this book set out to address was not one specific question but instead to go further in depth about what is listed, who is targeted, what are the draw backs etc., and that is clearly explained through examples and statistics throughout the book. As previously stated I believe the strongest points in this book were the number of examples and date. And what I would have liked to see more of was a clear set of questions or central question.

Overall the book was extremely informative and interested. I believe it gave me a much deeper understanding of how and when humor is used to form political thoughts or opinions as well as made me more interested as to how late nigth comedians are representing our current president and with the knowledge from this book I plan to apply how humor has been used in the past to compare it to how it is being used and how it is shaping politics today.  


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