Thursday, November 16, 2017

Heads up: what are the Russian Twitterbots pushing now?

Heads up: what are the Russian Twitterbots pushing now?

World-wide, the Russians are continuing to push a false narrative that the United States has given the Islamic State supplies and weaponry (when in reality the equipment was captured from the Iraqi Military during their retreat from the Sunni Triangle.) They’ve gone so far as to use images from video games as “evidence” for that false narrative.

In the USA they are pushing their case against the former unfunny comedian, now liberal senator Al Franken.


Was Al Franken the least funny comedian in modern times? Hard to say. He has plenty of competition: Colin Quinn, Janeane Garofalo, Rich Little, Sir Lawrence the Cable Gentleman, Pauly Shore, Rosie O'Donnell, Andy Dick, Jerry Lewis.

I'd have to go with Jerry Lewis based on sheer volume. While all of the above have approximately a 100% failure rate, Lewis tried and failed more than anyone.


  1. Franken, and his partner, the late Tom Davis, were fantastic together. They were great in the writer's room of snl. Once they split Franken was revealed to be the ill mannered, shrill harpy that he is.

  2. I agree. "Franken and Davis" was probably the last schtick when Franken seemed sort of ... well, I wouldn't say "funny" exactly, but maybe "droll."

  3. I'd replace Colin Quinn and Jerry Lewis with Chelsea Handler and Margaret Cho. I saw Colin's one-man show on the Constitution and thought it was quite good. I think he suffered for being the poor schmuck sent in to replace the great Norm MacDonald on SNL after Norm did one too many O.J. murder jokes.

    Jerry Lewis did some cringingly unfunny films, but at his best, he was hilarious and influential. Unfortunately for his reputation, his very best stuff was live on stage. I saw him on tour in "Damn Yankees," and he was hilarious (although if you came to hear the show's script verbatim, you were out of luck). I also remember as a kid reading a review of him at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas in which the critic said he was the funniest comic he'd seen in a club all year and he couldn't believe he was saying that. Dean and Jerry together were probably the best club act in history. You can get a sense of that by watching the kinescopes of them hosting the Colgate Comedy Hour on live TV. My wife was never a Jerry Lewis fan, but she laughed until her lungs hurt when I showed her those.

    Janeane and Andy were funny very early on, in "The Ben Stiller Show" and "NewsRadio," in which they both performed material written by other people. Since then, yikes!

    As for Franken, he wrote some classic stuff on SNL and had a few bits of his own that I really liked. But he never graduated beyond featured player for good reason. He became insufferable after he finally figured out that his key to success was becoming the official court jester of the Democratic Party, so that his jokes didn't have to be funny, they just had to preach to the choir. That's when he started writing books that became "humor best-sellers" solely because they attacked right-wing figures such as Rush Limbaugh. As an experiment, I once picked up his latest book in a bookstore to see how far I would have to read until I came to something that was actually funny (partisanship was irrelevant: I'm a comedy writer myself and was just looking for anything genuinely witty). After 17 pages of boring verbiage and DNC boiler plate, I finally came on a sentence that had the structure of a joke. It wasn't a funny joke, but at least it was the first recognizable attempt at humor. I gave myself a break, decided that was close enough, and moved on to the Robert Benchley section.

    1. I have seen Dean and Jerry together, and they were funny. Also, the Nutty Professor had a few laughs in it. Now let's talk about the last 50 years - I have watched I don't know how many telethons when Jerry tried to be amusing, and in all those years he never came up with even a single witty remark.

  4. I liked the roast of Larry the Cable Guy where they said -

    Your audience didn't know you were a comedian, they just came from miles around to see something they'd never seen before. You could just as well have called yourself Larry the Dentist or Larry the Librarian or Larry the Highschool Diploma.

  5. Of course humor is subjective, but I frequently found Al Franken to be funny. I think his comic strip "Supply Side Jesus" is brilliant satire.

    I'm sure you'll disagree but I found the loud mouth idiot Andrew Dice Clay to be completely unfunny, and his 'white males are the true victims' idiot non partner Sam Kinison joke was essentially nothing more than a loud scream. I have to admit that I was happy when he died.
    I've been told by some that if I could have gotten beyond Kinison's abrasive behavior that he was actually a fairly brilliant satirist who, at his best, was on par with Lenny Bruce. So, I can acknowledge that there are alternative views of his comedy, but to me, he was nothing more than an annoying scream.

    The somewhat equivalent to Al Franken on the right though I would argue is Dennis Miller, who I never found funny, and I'm surprised Scoopy didn't list him. Citing obscure references can be interesting but it's not funny. Unlike especially Andrew Dice Clay, Miller, like Franken, joked about a broad range of subjects, so I would consider them to be equivalents in that regard.

    From a non political perspective, very few of those who were cast members after the original Saturday Night Live cast struck me as very funny and that includes Adam Sandler and Chris Farley/David Spade. I certainly concede they do each have a few funny moments.

    Finally, and I know a lot of people disagree with me on this, including I believe Scoopy, I never found Denis Leary to be funny in the slightest. Similar to Dennis Miller with his obscure references, I find attitude can also be interesting, but it also isn't inherently funny.

    1. Just to add 'why would I be happy that a person, especially a relatively insignificant person as a comedian, had died?'

      Because in comedy, as in most everything, there are a lot of copy-cats who are even less funny than the original, and Kinison spawned a lot of 'comedians' who thought humor entailed nothing more than yelling, screaming or swearing.

      I also thought he seemed to be a very mean spirited person although I wouldn't cheer his death over that.

    2. So, this is an example of Kinison's alleged humor, I don't see anything approaching Lenny Bruce in the slightest:

      Sam Kinison on world hunger...

      You want to help these people? Stop sending them food. Don't send these people another bite, folks. You want to send them something, you want to help these people? Send them U-Hauls, send them luggage, send them someone like me, I'll walk out there..send a guy who'll go,


      This is actually nothing more than an example of ignorance on the part of Kinison played for laughs.
      1.Of course, the areas where these people lived were far from always being deserts but had suffered from extensive droughts.

      2.So, they should simply get up and where exactly? Was Kinison so stupid that he actually believed that large parts of Africa had arable land but was left uninhabited or un-owned? Only an audience as ignorant and plain stupid as Kinison (not to mention mean spirited) would find that funny.

      You can criticize Franken for being smug for or arrogant, but his Supply Side Jesus comic strip certainly showed a sophistication and a knowledge that ignorant and unfunny fools like Kinison never possessed.

    3. Oh for crissakes. I saw Kinison live, doing that bit on World Hunger and it was probably the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life. Never laughed so hard or so much ever.

      But then, I didn't bother to fact-check him, because he was doing A COMEDY BIT.

      Kinison was a comedy genius. Whoever said he was glad when he died is reprehensible. Even if you don't think he's funny he wasn't Charlie Manson. Yeesh.

    4. Uh yeah no. Dismissing something factually wrong as saying it's 'just a comedy bit' makes no sense, especially when it's supposed to be satire.

      What exactly is funny about that? He's essentially saying 'These Africans are too stupid to realize they should leave their homes." You find that funny?

      The only way this 'joke' works is if you're an ignorant idiot who actually thinks these Africans could have simply moved some place else to start over farming again.

      Anybody who finds that funny is reprehensible so you can shove your false proclamations of moral superiority.

      RIH Sam Kinison, you worthless scumbag.

    5. Essentially Kinison was a 'comedy genius' to hopeless retards such as yourself Hackenbush.

    6. Of course I can appreciate the idea that Kinison was trying to be a 'shock humorist.' I.E - how outrageous can I be? Or essentially, Archie Bunker.

      The problem with this is
      1.Archie Bunker predates Sam Kinison so, Kinison wasn't original. (I'm sure Archie Bunker wasn't original either, not least because All in the Family was based on a British television show.) He's hardly a genius when he didn't even originate his form of comedy.

      2.It's a one joke. After you've said something outrageous, only a slow witted person would keep finding more outrageous jokes still funny.
      Or, as I wrote previously, his humor was based on his scream.

      3.If Kinison had a shred of decency, he would have known that a some (probably a lot) of those in the audience agreed with what he was saying, not for humor purposes, but as a serious point: "Kinison is right, those starving Africans are stupid assholes who deserve to be left to die unless they leave their homes." (Of course, a lot of them did move temporarily to refugee camps where they could be fed.)

      Only a reprehensible person like Kinison would find that funny, even to be outrageous. It's not even creative - off the top of my head "You know those Jews, they deserved to be killed by Hitler, he even told them they needed to be exterminated. hahahhaahaha"

    7. Yeah Kinison wasn't really my cup of tea either...

      But the dude was killed by a goddamn drunk driver you piece of shit.

      You obviously realize what an a-hole you look like, but since you can't admit you went a little too far, you doubled down and attacked poor Hackenbush for calling you out!

    8. I actually couldn't care less what I look like. So, I'm pleased your not a hypocrite since you didn't like Kinison either, but anybody who found him to be funny could hardly complain about anybody else being happy that he died (or saying they were happy he died) given that his entire act was based on trying to provoke outrage.

      I don't see what difference it makes how Kinison died, and Hackenbush is a hypocrite and a snowflake.

  6. Dice Clay - never at all funny
    Denis Leary - used to be funny (but only as you say - in the slightest), now just annoying
    Sandler - just go die, OK? Or stick to serious acting
    Dennis Miller - often annoying, but actually funny sometimes.
    Franken - funnier in print than as a performer. Best as a senator, but he done stepped in it now.
    Kinison - DAMN funny. But offensive, if you're not down for that go read some Family Circle.

    1. Obviously I think there is enormous room between Kinison and Family Circle. Personally I find Family Circle is patronizing in its treatment of children.

      Not obviously that Kinison didn't have fans in Canada, but I think that he's considered a comic legend by so many Americans is mainly indicative of so many Americans liking broad comedy.

      Al Franken's droll comedic style is something I'd consider to be quite Canadian, a hybrid between the subtle British humor and the American broad comedy. Of course, there are broad British comedians as well like Benny Hill.

      In this regard in terms of being intentionally offensive, Monty Python beat Kinison by years. The difference I suppose, is that Kinison's take seemed to be based on attacking the already weak, which is a twist. However, again that was no different than Archie Bunker.

      I thought Franken was frequently funny and could be very edgy when he appeared on Letterman or Conan O'Brien, he was just very deadpan, unlike Kinison's over the top routine. For instance, I remember he made a joke on O'Brien that I was surprised didn't receive a lot more attention in the recent campaign.

      I guess it was part of the 2000 election, Franken said in deadpan about John McCain "The problem with him is that he sat the Vietnam War out."

      (What comment does that remind you of?"

      So, after being booed by the audience, Franken replied something like "I wasn't judging McCain, I was just stating what literally happened."

      I agree though that Franken's little seen television show "Lateline" was awful.

  7. Well, I heard Dennis Miller deliver many funny lines. For example: "If the Clintons had any more of a marriage of convenience, they'd have to install a Slurpee machine."

    I don't really remember Kinison well enough to have an opinion. I remember him screaming, and everything else is lost.

    Dennis Leary I remember as mediocre, more attitude than wit. Not as completely lacking in material as Colin Quinn, for example, but kind of similar.

    1. That's not a bad line. Again though, Franken's humor is similar to that from but from a liberal perspective.

      The problem I have with that, which seems to be part of what conservatives don't like about Franken, is that, while that joke is fairly clever, it's not exactly a difficult joke to make in front of the right audience. Since it isn't actually certain that the Clinton marriage is or ever was nothing more than 'a marriage of convenience' I would have found that more interesting had he said that in front of an audience that he couldn't be certain of their reaction.

    2. It's pretty obvious that Bill would rather be with any other woman in the world, including truck stop hookers, so I think the characterization of marriage of convenience is pretty fair. But the point is that was the summation of one of his rants in which he detailed precisely why it was a marriage of convenience. I recommend his book "Rants" because it allows you yo read some of the best comic writing of the 20th century without having to listen to his smug delivery.

      You will find that he blasts both sides. Liberals don't like it when he pours his acid on Carter and Clinton, but he saves his harshest barbs for Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush . He even has some jokes about the sainted John McCain. The problem with his lack of popularity is not that he's not funny, but that he's even-handed, and therefore offends both sides. This is the same problem that Bill Maher runs into whenever he violates liberal dogma or insults liberal icons.

      Having noted all that, I'd add that while he is brilliant at writing and presenting crafted pieces, I have never been impressed with his skills in interviewing or ad-libbing. He's really a writer rather than a performer. He's the Vladimir Nabokov of comedy. Same rule applies to both men: let him write and he's a genius. Ask him a question and he melts into incoherence or arrogance.

  8. Sorry, I was going to just leave this and let you get the last word, but then I remembered a quote from the liberal but generally wimpy Democrat Mark Shields that I thought applied to Miller.

    First, I think we can just agree to disagree about the Clinton marriage. I don't have any real opinion why they are still together. This isn't an exact quote, but one person I'm not aware of Miller going after is W. Bush, in fact, Miller was a rather dishonest and idiotic shill for W. Bush: as W Bush said something like and I think fits for the Clinton's "Don't judge what's in my heart."

    I agree that Miller's routine, to the degree that it was political rather than a forum for him to make obscure references was that he was a conservative Democrat. So, it's not odd that he went after both sides.

    However, after September 11, 2001 I think it's fair to say, to quote Mark Shields, that Miller saw his role as 'afflicting the already afflicted and comforting the already comfortable.'

  9. As exhibit A, I would point to Miller's vicious and outright racist anti Muslim rants after September 11/2001.

    For equivalence, they were as stupid as blaming all white people for the Las Vegas shooting.

    I can't understand the high regard you hold Miller in here. Maybe he was playing to his target audience's own prejudices, but even before September 11, 2001 I never thought he was all that intelligent. Being smart and knowing a lot of obscure things to reference obviously aren't the same.

    1. Sorry, the last paragraph was as poorly written as the first sentence where I should have just said "I point to..."

      I did not mean to imply that you hold Miller in high regard for his rants after September 11, 2001 or, more specifically, his outright racist rants, just the high regard you seem to have for him in general.

      As a mathematician, the idea of judging somebody on the basis for being part of a group that they have little to no choice for being in offends me because it's outright idiotic.