Sunday, January 22, 2006
But That's Just My Opinion; I Could Be Wrong
I don't have a lot of time tonight as I've gotten to this late, but I do want to share with you all very briefly:

I watched Dennis Miller's new standup special on HBO Saturday night. I've always been a big Dennis Miller fan, mostly because I get most of the references so he makes me feel smart and pretty.

Weekend update on SNL? Awesome. The Dennis Miller Show with announcer Nick Bakay? Watched that too. Dennis Miller Live on HBO? Yep, down widdit.

I was even on board with the crazy-ass Monday Night Football thing.

The thing I liked the most about Dennis Miller was that everybody got it from Dennis Miller. It didn't matter who they were, if somebody did something retarded in public, they got their face put on the little screen and a joke made about them, usually including (somehow) mentions of both string theory and F-Troop.

Dennis Miller Live was roughly coterminous with the Clinton years and it was fascinating to watch Dennis vascillate between liking Clinton and being frustrated/disappointed/angry at the president for being (occasionally) retarded in public. It might not have been the most consistent, but at least he gave the impression that he was coming from a position of personal emotional honesty. Or, yeah OK, maybe he just needed to fill up a show with jokes once per week. As a slave to content and self-imposed deadlines, I can certainly sympathize with that.

Then 9/11 hit us all and two tragic things happened: 1) upgraded security meant I had to start just letting my fingernails grow willy-nilly for the entire duration of domestic flights and 2) Dennis Miller stopped being funny.

The first 15 minutes of his act on Saturday night was sort of general-interest comedy material. I think I can say the most about it by telling you I don't remember any of it. Could have been the absinthe, but I think it might have just been boring.

Then he started in with the political material. I liked the energy and the commitment in the delivery, that was all there. He laid into people--all Democrats from Hillary to Howard Dean... he even had Harry Reid material--which is fine and good, but then he went on this 10 minute jaunt that ended with (and I'm not exaggerating) RNC talking points about the Iraq-al Qaeda connection and how George Bush's inartful bumpkin-ness is "just what we need right now".

Dennis Miller isn't funny anymore because he's forgotten the first rule of comedy: everyone who isn't you or the audience is an asshole. There are some comedians who would go so far as to include even the audience in the "asshole" category (Andy Kaufman is the only one that leaps to mind immediately). The only time a comedian should say something nice about a politician is if the people watching all paid $1,000 dollars per plate and the proceeds were going to be split 50/50 between the party's national committee and Jack Abramoff. But that's simple math: if you're doing an event for pay, you don't bite the hand that feeds you.

But if you have an HBO special, the last thing anyone wants to hear is how great somebody--anybody--is. If I want to listen to people kiss George Bush's ass, I'll watch Fox News.

But I've never respected Sean Hannity, so it's far less depressing when he does it.

I guess the saddest part was that it seemed like Dennis Miller's whole political viewpoint had been shaped completely by fear. Or "terror," if you will. His point seemed to be that the dirty ragheads all hate us and they're going to get us unless we get them first. It was less funny than it sounds.

If Osama bin Laden had been watching the special from his cave in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region (you'd be surprised how far HBO's reach is), he'd probably be thinking "Holy crap, I guess this shit does work! Look, I broke Dennis Miller! Hey, switch over to Comedy Central. I think The Daily Show is on."

I will also allow for the possibility that I'm used to comedians being slanted to the left politically so when hearing it the other way I'm put off or simply confused. I acknowledge that and accept your chastisement, should you offer it, gentle readers.

But then again, like I said, it just may have been the absinthe.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.4



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