When Bad Things Happen to Robot People
Glitter bombs are just the newest iteration of the old fashioned pie-in-the-face that comes right out of the anarchist playbook. With cameras rolling, the target has only a handful of options to deal with the embarrassing situation.
For instance: after getting pied, you could taste some of it and make a face that says “Hmm, not bad!” Or, if you’re a Republican with the presence of mind to stay on message: “Cutting taxes would have made this pie even bigger!”
Mitt Romney had a wealth of options from which to choose after getting back-to-back glitter bombs in Minnesota. He could have said something like, “Ah, this must be the moon-dust Newt Gingrich sent over!” But instead of improvising he changed the subject to another topic off the top of his head. In this case, his hair.
Like most of Mitt’s attempts at humor, this one smells of mothballs. At least he was smart enough to unwrap the joke that the Letterman writers gifted him for his appearance last December.
Oh Beautiful for Grating Voice
One might suppose that a viral video of your political opponent singing painfully off-key constitutes a fastball down the middle for an easy joke at their expense. This week, both Newt Gingrich and Michelle Obama were smart enough to avoid swinging at this fastball with their foreheads.
Making light of anything that involves “America the Beautiful” is all downside with no upside. People sing that song at campaign rallies to demonstrate that they love America more than you do. So when asked to comment upon Mitt’s rendition while sitting on Jay Leno’s couch, Michelle Obama wisely punted on the easy joke and found a way to salute the flag instead.
Congratulations to the first lady for the restraint required not to say something more like this: Mitt Romney did to that song what Dick Cheney did to prisoners at Gitmo.
We Laugh, You Decide
Finally—conclusive evidence of The Liberal Media Bias! Last Sunday, Newt trotted out a genuinely funny parody of liberal “soft-liner” foreign policy that went underreported by the news and blogosphere. But it got big laughs from both the partisan Floridians present and—I’d bet—even the handful of left-wingers watching it live on C-Span.
The highest order of tactical humor is the kind that creates cognitive dissonance—to make even your sworn enemies laugh along with you, or even better, to get them laughing at themselves. (Your Tactical Humorist must own up to his own reluctant laughter). DNC and Romney war rooms take note: either Newt penned this himself or he used his influx of casino cash to hire a good speechwriter! The point is, funny is funny and somebody deserves kudos.
Making light of anything that involves “America the Beautiful” is all downside with no upside.
Mark Katz and John Avlon on the funniest moments from the campaign trail.
What’s an antonym for kudos? So many to choose from, but that’s what’s due to the person responsible for Mitt’s lame Groundhog Day joke. Let’s hope we don’t have to keep experiencing it again and again ad infinitum.
Also: let’s hope we don’t have to keep experiencing it again and again ad infinitum.
Mark Katz is the founder and principal of the Soundbite Institute, a creative think tank that specializes in on-message humor. At the Tactical Humorist, Katz breaks down the laughs in the 2012 presidential campaign.
When Rick Santorum thumbed his nose at Obama’s drive for higher education, he opened the floodgates for criticism. Watch as Jon Stewart schools him on the actual meaning of a ‘snob.’