Comedy Is Not Pretty

By John Santucci

Jul 17, 2008 10:32am

He has told some offensive jokes, he has told some funny jokes, and now Sen. John McCain — a favorite on The Daily Show, a one-time guest host on Saturday Night Live — finds his sense of humor under the microscope.

"Rooted in a time before there was political correctness, and before there was the South Park backlash against political correctness, McCain’s wisecracking persona is cutting at times, self-deprecating at others, and always amused by the political process swirling around him," writes Ben Smith in the Politico this morning. "Even in his pursuit of the White House, the candidate has – sometimes to the dismay of his handlers – managed to keep his sense of humor."

Smith turns to former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., for insight without mentioning Kerrey’s struggles as a 1992 presidential candidate because of a racy joke he once told (Punchline: "and then Jerry Brown says, ‘I like [performing a certain sexual act], does that make me a lesbian, too?’") Kerrey had told his joke to then-Gov. Bill Clinton, after Clinton told him a lesbian joke first, Kerrey told the New York Times about a decade later. But the C-SPAN microphone only picked up Kerrey.

In any case, back to McCain. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee got some heat last month for a joke he told referring to the age-old loaded question, "When did you stop beating your wife, senator?" In April 2007, a joke he made to Jon Stewart about an IED was criticized on the House floor by Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., McCain told Diane Sawyer that Murtha and other critics should "lighten up and get a life."

- jpt

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