‘A man is angry at a libel because it is false, but at a satire because it is true,’ wrote G.K. Chesterton. Democrats seem to understand that point, though sometimes they are a little overeager to show they can laugh at themselves.
Take the virtual Democratic fundraiser on Monday night. Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris was joined by 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, along with — get this — Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler, who play them on Saturday Night Live! Readers were presumably as stunned as Cockburn to learn that wealthy thespians enjoy sharing a stage with Democratic leaders.
A pooler provided the following side-splitting transcript of Rudolph and Poehler’s ‘cold-open’ to the event:
‘Live, from our offices, it’s early Monday evening,’ Poehler announced.
‘Yeah, it’s almost time for dinner,’ Rudolph said. ‘Actually, this is even better it’s an event to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, as the next president and vice president of the United States,’ she said.
‘This election is about more than what we’re voting against. It’s also about what we’re voting for: a brighter future for all Americans. We know we can’t just go back to the way things were before Donald Trump as Joe says we need to build back better,’ Rudolph added.
Poehler picked up, ‘which is why we have to spend the next 50 days doing everything in our power to send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, because we all know that elections have consequences.’
Hilarious! They don’t do parody in Pyongyang, but if they did, it would resemble this. Only in the most biting satire can the subject of a joke laugh along with the satirist as he or she unblinkingly endorses them for high office.
They introduced Clinton, who began speaking nearly four minutes in. She called the Zoom ‘a real life imitates art moment that I am relishing’.
Then she unfurled one of what would be many jokes.
‘I want to thank you both for the documentary you recently made about life in America during the pandemic. I’m talking of course about Wine Country. It really did land exactly where it was needed.’
Everybody likes a lockdown joke about the vino! Wine Country received ‘mixed or average’ reviews, which is more than can be said for this fundraiser.
Here are some of the funniest moments from the fundraiser with Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph. The serotonin we NEEDED. pic.twitter.com/oVX4tEqDMm
— VK (@votekamala) September 15, 2020
Poehler then asked how one keeps their sense of humor during these times.
A pertinent question given the general absence of wit.
Clinton said it’s important to have a sense of humor and be able to laugh at yourself. She said she was struck when she heard that Trump lacks this ability.
‘I’ve never seen him laugh. I’ve never, ever seen him make fun of himself. Certainly not his hairdo — you know, that’s something I’m quite experienced in. And it is really telling that part of the cruelty and the indifference, and just the plain meanness that we see on a regular basis from him, is in part because he has no sense of humor. And, you know, he loves putting people down not lifting them up.’
Hillary must have missed Donald Trump’s two stints hosting SNL — where he laughed at jokes at his expense. Or the time Trump let SNL alum Jimmy Fallon ruffle his hair. Oh well.
Cockburn’s more reactionary drinking buddies — we’ve been quaffing wine, too, LOL! — gripe about the way politics has seeped into culture. Whether it’s football, sitcoms or awards shows, formerly apolitical arenas have gradually become festivals for progressive propaganda, they complain. Entertainment ought to give brief respite from the news, yet now it seems first and foremost to serve political ends.
We shouldn’t be too serious. But in a world where parodists are raising $6 million for the candidates they ‘mock’, surely people should ask if the joking has gone too far. What good is satire if it makes the audience angrier than the subject?