Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!

President Obama: Comedian or Avant-Garde Performance Artist?

YouTube

From our "How To Do Everything" podcast:

How does a bad joke get into the State of the Union address? James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic and former chief speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, says there's only one way a joke like that gets in the speech:

The President must have wanted it to be there. [There are] an infinity of policy checks in the year before the State of the Union, but then the jokes have their own separate cadre of Hollywood experts. I can't imagine any Borscht Belt comedian or aspiring speechwriting talent who would try to push this joke on the President, unless President Obama either for high art reasons or low comedy reasons wanted to go with it.

Um, high art?

A year ago in his State of the Union speech, he had a similarly groan-out-loud joke about salmon. And so it's possible that he's doing a kind of performance art post-modern thing of, with a straight face, delivering one terrible joke per State of the Union address...I choose to think it was sort of a surrealist, absurdist moment, that he enjoyed the Simpsons-esque absurdity of it, as opposed to thinking it was funny.

Mr. Obama: The Andy Kaufman President.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!
Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!

About

Support comes from: