It’d be a shame if politicians became so afraid of spontaneity that they never joked around, avoided light-hearted moments, and never strayed from their scripts. That said, politicians also need to realize that being funny can be tricky and that it’s sometimes hard to find humor in some serious subjects.

Late last week, for example, Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain said his response to the “crisis of illegal immigration” is to create an electrified fence along the U.S.-Mexican border, killing those who tried to enter the country illegally. Cain said on Sunday his comments were “a joke,” though the video suggested otherwise.

Yesterday, the far-right candidate switched gears again — Cain was serious about the idea he was kidding about. (thanks to M.C. for the tip)

“Let me first say it was a joke, and some people don’t think that it was a good joke, and it’s probably not a joke that you’re supposed to make if you’re a presidential candidate,” Cain continued. “I apologize if it offended anyone. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.”

Only, it might not be a joke, he later said, before finally saying he just doesn’t want to offend anyone.

“I don’t like to offend anyone … however, I don’t apologize for using a combination of a fence. And it might be electrified — I’m not walking away from that,” Cain backtracked. “I just don’t want to offend anybody. It was a joke to the extent in the context of the views of that speech, but in terms of what we need to do, I fully intend to do so because I’m more sensitive to our citizens being hurt.”

Maybe when Cain said he was joking, that was when he was joking?

The bottom line, at least until he changes his mind again, is that Cain actually wants a fence that would kill immigrants, and If he’s elected, that’s what he “fully intends” to do.

Let’s also note that Cain isn’t the only Republican struggling with comedic stylings lately. Cain is “joking” (but not really) about killing immigrants; Mike Huckabee is joking (again) about Republicans using illegal voter-suppression tactics; and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) joked, “In Arizona, sometimes to gain office you have to have shot someone,” a line Gabrille Giffords’ family probably wouldn’t appreciate.

Maybe someone can buy a copy of “Comedy for Dummies” and send it over to the RNC.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.