Step aside Stephen Colbert, there is a new comedian presidential candidate of the moment.
Roseanne Barr filed official paperwork with the FEC Jan. 27th, and is seeking the Green Party nomination for president.
Colbert had been the most famous comedian candidate this year. He was a repeat offender too after teasing a presidential bid in the 2008 election. But his exploratory committee for President of the United States of South Carolina was short-lived. He announced the creation of his exploratory committee in January and shuttered it that same month, shortly after the South Carolina primary.
Barr seems to more serious. She's seeking a spot on an actual political party's slate.
From Will Rogers to Gracie Allen, faux political campaigns have been a recurrent sideshow throughout U.S. electoral history. As Barr and Colbert flirt with the idea of a 2012 presidential campaign, click on to see some of the professional humorists who sought public office.
Roseanne Barr, actress, comedian, writer and producer, announced her candidacy for president in the 2012 election on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," running on the "Green Tea Party" ticket. Apparently she meant the Green Party, because that is how she filed official paperwork with the FEC in late January. On the "Tonight Show," Barr also introduced sample bumper stickers, such as "Isn't It Time We Had a President With Some Nuts" and "Finally a President Who Can't Get the Maid Pregnant."
The former "Roseanne" star's political platform includes abolishing taxes, eliminating student debts and doing away with currency, implementing a batter system instead. It would not seem likely that a campaign based on abolishing taxes would gather many Green Party votes, but she is currently only one of two candidates seeking the party's nomination. Jill Stein, a Massachusetts physician, is the other candidate. The Green Party will crown their nominee at their national convention in Baltimore scheduled for mid-July.
Accomplished comedian and New York Times bestseller Al Franken turned his attention from "Saturday Night Live" to politics in 2007 when he announced that he would run for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota. Franken defeated incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008, and he assumed office in July 2009.
The ride to the Senate was not at all smooth for Franken, especially when the GOP dug up an article he penned eight years prior to his campaign for Playboy entitled "Porn-O-Rama!" In The column, the funny man wrote about visiting a sex institute where he describes sexual exploits with humans and machines. A group of prominent GOP women called Franken's article "demeaning and degrading" toward women. The Franken campaign maintained that the article was written as a satire.
Sonny Bono will always be remembered as one half of the famous Sonny and Cher duo, but he also had a political career. A political novice, he first forayed into politics in 1988 when he became mayor of Palm Springs, Calif. In 1994, he won the congressional seat from California after losing the Senate seat in 1992. He won re-election in 1996.
During his showbiz days, as well as his days in the House, Bono enjoyed making fun of himself, and was once quoted as saying: "I feel kind of like the black sheep in Congress, but here I am." Despite his daughter's strong presence in lesbian activism, Bono opposed gay marriage, and focused primarily on immigration and trade. When asked to talk about illegal immigration, he candidly replied, "What's to talk about? It's illegal."
Bono died from injuries sustained in a skiing accident in 1998. His headstone reads: "And the Beat Goes On."
Will Rogers made only one campaign promise throughout his presidential campaign: if elected, he would resign. Rogers was one of the most widely known celebrities and humorists in the 1920s and 1930s. In May 1928, weekly humor magazine Life started an editorial campaign challenge to put Rogers on the ballot, which he accepted. Rogers wrote a weekly column for the magazine until the election, which was filled with political jokes and parodies.
To prove that he thought all campaigning was bunk, he created a mock presidential campaign, running as the "bunkless candidate" of the Anti-Bunk Party. Some of his endorsers included Henry Ford, Babe Ruth and Grantland Rice.
On Election Day, he declared victory and resigned, saying that the Anti-Bunk Party was ahead of its time: "We went into this campaign to drive the Bunk out of politics. But our experiment, while noble in motive was a failure. … Goodbye and good luck from the only cheerful loser in the race."
The year 1968 was a great year for presidential shenanigans. In addition to Pat Paulsen, civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory ran a gag campaign that year. Gregory even went so far as to print fake dollar bills with his face and peace signs on them. They read, "For President of - The United States of America - Gregory - One Vote."
In the '60s, Gregory fought for civil rights with the rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Today, he continues to practice his activism in Washington, D.C., and attended in October the funeral of Troy Davis Jr., who was executed for the murder of an off-duty policeman in Georgia after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute stay.
In 1940, Gracie Allen, the female half of the comedy team Burns and Allen, announced her intention to run for president on the Surprise Party ticket. The party's mascot was a kangaroo; the slogan was "It's in the bag." The idea came about as one of the couple's radio stunts, but what started out as a gimmick eventually garnered real momentum. Allen and her husband, comedian George Burns, performed at radio stations across the country while seeking support for her presidential campaign.
Although her campaign wasn't serious, Allen received thousands of votes as well as the endorsement of Harvard University students. Allen's campaign was characterized by her quick wit, double-talk and sharp puns. Asked whether as president she would recognize Russia, she responded, "I don't know. I meet so many people …" As for a running mate, Allen said she would not tolerate vice in her administration, and would therefore not run alongside a vice-presidential candidate. On Election Day, Franklin Roosevelt won the presidential race.
In 1968, comedian Pat Paulsen won an Emmy for his performance on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" as a satirical, double-talking editorialist who commented on political issues. That same year, Paulsen announced that he would run for president under the Straight Talking American Government Party, or the S.T.A.G. Party. His five presidential campaigns -- 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, 1992 and 1996 -- were primarily for the sake of comedy rather than politics, but he did garner some votes throughout the races.
What began as a joke spread like wildfire as he participated in one race after the other, using slogans such as "We Can Be Decisive, Probably" and "United We Sit." He also created his own constitutional amendments, as well as repealed and amended those already in existence, particularly the first amendment: "Obscene literature and pornographic material which have little or no artistic merit shall be confiscated and given to the president to view so that he can determine whether this salacious material is detrimental to the citizenry." Paulsen died in 1997 of complications from pneumonia and kidney failure.
"Is he one big joke? I can promise you it's real," Steve Berke sings in a YouTube video for his Miami Beach mayoral campaign. The comedian's race for Miami Beach mayor was no joke: His campaign transformed into a real bid, complete with bikini-clad models, parody videos and a pro-marijuana stance. The Yale graduate emerged as the antithesis of his main opponent, incumbent Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, a 72-year old, two-term politician who campaigned on her experience in office as well as her maternal skills.
Berke, running as a pro-nightclub and pro-party member of the "After Party," performed many publicity stunts to garner media attention. Basketball stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade attended an event for the so-called "anti-politician." At one fundraiser, his model friends auctioned themselves off as dates. They also personally delivered absentee ballots to people who requested them on his website. One of Berke's political objectives in the race for mayor was the decriminalization of marijuana. In 2011, Herrera was elected to her third and final term as mayor of Miami Beach. Berke stated on his Facebook page that he will run again in 2013.