Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas recently mused about the decline of late-night comedy to the Washington Examiner. Anyone to the right of Bernie Sanders can sympathize with the senator. Late-night talk shows have become unwatchable to roughly half of the country. Late-night has abandoned humor for Trump-bashing in the senator’s opinion.
The time was that a late-night talk show host would be careful to make fun of both sides of the political divide. Jay Leno, who once ruled the late-night as the host of “The Tonight Show,” once explained how it worked. George W. Bush would be dumb (an unfair accusation to be sure for the voracious reader) and Bill Clinton would be – er – obsessed with sex. That way everybody would have some part of the monologue to laugh at.
Of course, even when Leno was in his prime, his rival David Letterman could be particularly nasty to people on the right. Many people still remember what he said about Sarah Palin’s then 14-year old daughter. Letterman was obliged to make a rare apology.
More recently, the Scottish born comedian Craig Ferguson was careful to spare no one from ridicule. His impression of former President Bill Clinton is still considered a classic among fans of good humor.
Ted Cruz finds the current late-night landscape to be pretty bleak. He suggests that a double standard exists whether the guest of a liberal or a conservative. “When there’s a Democrat, they’re fawning, they’re nice, they talk about family, and they treat them like movie stars,” he said.
However, matters are different when the guest is on the right. Cruz notes, “When Republicans go on, they want to be Tim Russert, they want to — “OK, let’s ask the hard question.”
For some reason, Cruz finds “The Late Show’s” Stephen Colbert to be the worst offender. Those people who can stand to watch him (which does not include Cruz) would note that no Colbert monologue is complete without its dose of Trump-bashing. Most TV viewers find Trump f hate to be unfunny. Yet Colbert has maintained an audience.
Colbert started as a regular on “The Daily Show” when Jon Stewart was still the host. Patterico once suggested that Stewart had a technique called “clown nose on, clown nose off.” Stewart would say something outrageous about a current event or a politician he didn’t like. When he was called on it, he would say, “Hey, I’m just a comedian.” And yet many young people eschewed most conventional news outlets and got their news from Stewart.
Stewart is long gone from the Daily Show, having pursued a thus far unsuccessful career as an independent film director. Colbert has become his heir, for good or ill.
Cruz may not have an HBO subscription, otherwise, he might know that Bill Maher and John Oliver, both who use the permissiveness of pay for view cable, to full advantage. Letterman might make off-colored jokes about Sarah Palin’s then underage daughter. Maher once called Palin the “c-word.”
Cruz also directed his ire at “Saturday Night Live,” the venerable comedy variety show. In the beginning, SNL could poke fun at everyone, with Not Ready for Prime Time Player Dan Aykroyd lampooning Jimmy Carter while Chevy Chase would stumble around as Gerald Ford. That kind of evenhandedness is a thing of the past. Currently one finds Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin as a ditz or Alec Baldwin doing President Trump as an orange-haired monster.
Even though late night’s leftward lurch predates the presidency of Donald Trump, Cruz suggests that Trump Derangement Syndrome has blinded late-night comedians to what is funny and what is not. bLate night had become part of The Resistance, The goal of too many shows has been less to entertaining their audiences to try to bring down the president.
Cruz bemoans this and wishes that things could return to when not everything was pollical. The Washington Examiner explains:
“Cruz, a staunch conservative who over the years as a senator and presidential candidate has been a number of late-night shows, said that the reason politicians go on alate night shows is to show a softer, more personal side of themselves. The purpose of appearing on such a show, Cruz said, is not to talk about politics.”
Cruz suggests that late-night comedians should lighten up a little bit and learn to laugh at themselves and people with whom they agree politically.