Point and Laugh as a Strategy

Perhaps because I have a low tolerance for repetition, I’m beginning to reach a point where it seems like, until something new happens, everything that can be said about this presidential primary has already been said…many times. So I’m interested in taking a different look at things.

As I’ve noted recently, we’re all being told that we need to take the candidacy of Donald Trump very seriously. There is some truth in that. But I also remember watching Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners, appear on The Daily Show a few years ago. He called Jon Stewart a prophet. I thought that was a very keen insight. And as a friend recently reminded me, one of the most powerful anti-Hitler statements was made by Charlie Chaplin with his film, The Great Dictator.

All of that is by way of saying that there is a role for humor in our current situation. Pointing and laughing can actually be a very effective strategy. One of the best examples of that is Samantha Bee’s “R.I.P. GOP.” Take a few minutes to watch it with me.

There is a reason I chose this one to highlight. Other comedians have done something similar. For example: Stephen Colbert did a masterful job on the same subject and this one by CollegeHumor might be the funniest thing I’ve seen all campaign season (although not safe for work environments).

When it comes to prophetic humor, Samantha Bee captured the whole political zeitgeist going on right now in the second clip when, after showing scenes from the last Republican debate, she said this:

I don’t mean to sound sexist, but I think men are just too emotional to be president.

I know that the surest way to kill a humor buzz is to comment on why it’s funny. So if you aren’t clear about why that is so prophetic in the midst of pronouncing the GOP dead, just go back and read this.

One of the people who is a master of the point and laugh strategy is President Obama. As I’ve said before, when I first heard him talk about Romnesia on the stump in 2012, I had no doubt he was going to win. Part of that is because he absolutely nailed Romney’s etch-a-sketch attempts. But it was also because I could tell he was having fun. That is an important characteristic for a winner to project.

I can’t wait until the President can go out on the campaign trail with lines like these:

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.