Comedy In Name Only
“The Greg Gutfeld Show” on Fox News
In their own minds, conservatives are sure of a great many things. They are the most moral people on Earth. They hate communists, socialists, reds, pinkos, Russians and college professors. They love Jesus. They venerate Ronald Reagan. They believe social welfare is wrong. They believe corporate welfare is fine and dandy. They’re convinced money is speech, even when they don’t have any. And they’re 100 percent sure Fox News is “fair and balanced.” However, there’s one thing not even the most died-in-the-wool, Focus on the Family, Tea Party-backing conservative can lie to himself about: Conservatives are just not funny.
They’re not wired for it. Their world is black and white. Irony and sarcasm are the work of the Devil. Twist endings are a sneaky Al-Qaeda plot. Curse words make Baby Jesus cry. That doesn’t leave a lot of material for comedians to work with. You see, professional funny people are all “Hollywood liberals.” And the rare few who do convert to good, death-
Back in 2007, Fox News Channel launched “The 1/2 Hour News Hour”—a George W. Bush-supporting version of Weekend Update on “Saturday Night Live.” It ran for one poorly reviewed season before being pulled for “retooling.” It has yet to return. But that hasn’t stopped Fox from trying to start the comedy cavalcade rolling again. On May 31 the news network added “The Greg Gutfeld Show.” Gutfeld has earned a reputation as an energetic guest on Fox News’ 1am talk show “Red Eye”—which, naturally, makes him the perfect guy to host an hour-long sketch comedy show.
“Saturday Night Live” has a dozen cast members and can’t fill up an hour of comedy on a weekly basis, so it’s hard to figure out why anyone thought Gutfeld could generate 60 minutes’ worth of yuks all on his own. Gutfeld started his show with a tried-and-true monologue. Delivered from behind a desk. With no studio audience. Wow. That is not how comedy works, people. Later, there were cameos by such Fox News heavyweights as Geraldo Rivera and Gretchen Carlson (proving that—Brian Williams aside—news anchors are not actors). The show borrowed Jimmy Kimmel’s man-on-the-street quiz—which didn’t work because everyone in Times Square seemed perfectly capable of answering Gutfeld’s questions about famous American women. At one point Gutfeld argued about how the left demonizes conservatives by using the word “evil,” which should be reserved for terrorists like ISIS. True, but hardly a knee-slapping observation. Still, it’s better than Gutfeld’s occasional stabs at one-liners (e.g., “Torching a girl is a true war on women. Unless you see it as the next renewable fuel.”).
In the end Gutfeld took a swipe directly at Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” mocking its “edgy commentary” that “pretends to be risky” and makes fun of things “people fought and died for.” What, according to Gutfeld, is risky? “Saying you love this country, cops are awesome, our military rules, identity is silly.” Yeah, nothing says “risky” like parroting the most mainstream, middle-American party lines you can come up with. ... Come to think of it, maybe Gutfeld is a funny dude. ’Cause that’s some hilarious shit.