Comic America

The United States of America has many positive traits. But one negative quality is killing its own image. The ability of America to go too casual is costing its superpower status today. The over causal approach to everything is backfiring the mighty nation. From dealing with political crisis to managing family to addressing social issues, high dose of liberty is proving to be the villain of America. No wonder the successive Presidents and Governors are demanding the return of seriousness in every domain of the society except in jovial ambience. But this is not coming. Despite the fact that the incumbent President is just one year old in White House the public outcry against his performance is ridiculous. The same people were going hammer and tongs in praising Barack Obama as the “Saviour of America” 365 days back. This blind mass tuning triggered by the media is denting the name and fame of America. One school going kid of 12 years went to the extent of creating a facebook page “Kill Obama”. Another kid coined acronym for Obama – One Bad Asshole Mismanaged America. These kinds of abusive and atrocious activities of the citizens and politicians alike is going to deteriorate America’s global position. The Crest, Times of India writes on 14 November 2009 One of the biggest worries in showbiz around this time last year when Barack Obama became President was that latenight jokesters and stand-up comics would suffer because the jokes would dry up. After feasting on eight White House years each of Bill Clinton and George Bush, both of whom provided a rich yield of gags, it would be hard, and perhaps politically incorrect, to make fun of America’s first black president who was coming into office with the reputation of being a “No Drama Obama” and “No Shock Barack” . Caricaturists were concerned that Obama was too much of a regular guy, too ordinary, with none of the foibles that made Clinton (an oversexed intellectual) and Bush (an oversimplified klutz) meat and drink meat for humorists. Who can forget Clinton’s peccadilloes and the one-liners it engendered (” It’s Monica Lewinsky’s birthday today; seems like only yesterday she was crawling all over the Oval office floor!”). As for Bush, he was even sent off with this immortal gag… Karl Rove walks into the Oval Office on the final day and sees Bush triumphantly finishing a puzzle. “It says for 10-12 years but I finished it in eight,” Bush says. Obama himself showed quickly enough that he is not really a dour, humourless drudge; although that itself would have been fit for lampooning. In fact, he is quite a funny guy who makes self-deprecating jokes about his big ears (asked during a campaign stop at Mount Rushmore if someday he’s like to be up there, he is believed to have said “there’s not enough stone there to make my ears”) and skinny frame. But jokes about him were pretty thin in the first few months. However, it was only a matter of time, and as the comic-actor Chris Rock predicted, no one, not even Barack Obama, can survive a high-level of scrutiny without mishaps week after week. Not when the livelihood of an industry depends on parodying him. One year into office, the Obama slip, mercifully, is starting to show, and humorists are breathing a sigh of relief. On the first anniversary of his presidency, comics teed off with “In one short year, Obama’s slogan has gone from, ‘Yes, we can’, to ‘Wow, this is freakin’ hard.'” (Conan O’Brien ) and “His new slogan is now, ‘Yes, we can, but don’t hold your breath.'” (Jay Leno). The gags began with the choice of his pet dog named Bo, went on to his fixation with the teleprompter (the joke was he even reads endearments in bed to wife Michelle from a teleprompter), but it was the Nobel Prize that brought the roof down for the comics. My favourite: President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize because the committee wanted to recognize his fine work in bringing peace to a black professor and a white cop through the strategic use of beer. Sure, he is not stupid and he has not strayed, and most of the jokes are not so much about him as his actions or inaction – the lack of quick results on the economic front, and his dithering on Afghanistan, for instance. In fairness, as someone quipped only in halfjest, things haven’t changed much in terms of race in the 21st century – a black man still has to clean up the mess the white folks left behind. Many of the Obama gags (mainly by white folks) have to do with the slow pace of the clean-up. So the joke goes that the Obama economy is so bad… that Kenya now claims he wasn’t born there…that Americans are being caught sneaking into Mexico… that the White House china is actually being made in China… that Made in America stickers are now being made in China. One thing’s for sure though: The manufacture of jokes will not be outsourced to China any time soon. They still frown on the funnies against their leaders there.


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