late-night comedy

'Outrage' is in the eye of the reporter: Why journalists keep ignoring anti-Catholic comedy

'Outrage' is in the eye of the reporter: Why journalists keep ignoring anti-Catholic comedy

At a time when humor is struggling with political correctness and fallout from the #MeToo movement, there’s little material for late-night hosts and stand-up comedians to work with. Of course, there’s President Donald Trump. He’s fair game given his title, ability to dominate news cycles and for his tweets.  

The other people you’re also allowed to pick on (at least from the material you see on TV) are Christians across all denominations.

Vice President Mike Pence’s perceived wholesomeness, for example, is fair game on Saturday Night Live. If he’s an evangelical (he was born and raised a Roman Catholic), then he must be a prude or a square. For example, of the 80 jokes targeting Pence on the late-night talk shows in 2017 alone, USA Today reported that “most were about his alleged dull personality, prudishness and homophobia.” The article cited a database compiled by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

Yes, there are real academics who are actually studying this stuff.

The other group that’s fair game are Roman Catholics — period. Jokes aimed at the clergy are so common that there’s barely a ripple of outrage in the mainstream press about this subject. Jokes about others (should a stand-up comedian venture to mock gays or other religions such as Islam) would illicit waves of news coverage about how “Twitter exploded” over the issue.

Comedy can be tough. It’s supposed to be, at times, provocative. What is problematic is how pros in the mainstream press react, or fails to react, to these statements. Censoring comedians isn’t the solution, but it is important to note when the press is “outraged” and when it isn’t.

“Twitter exploded” is the key phrase here.

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Red counties and blue collars: As it turns out, folks in America's heartland still exist

Red counties and blue collars: As it turns out, folks in America's heartland still exist

Help me out here, readers.

I have been traveling so much in the past few weeks that lots of things I have read and heard have merged into a kind of fever dream in my 60-something brain. Somewhere out there I saw an advertisement for a last-moment fundraiser by liberal comedians who described their program as "like the Blue Collar Comedy tour," only for "smart, moral people" -- or words to that effect.

Did I just dream that? It's a perfect statement of half of what happened last night and this morning. In the end, Hillary Clinton did not get enough votes from blue-collar Democrats and lots of other people who used to be in the old Democratic Party coalition that included the Midwest and large parts of the Bible Belt.

When I wrote my Election Day post about the religion and culture angles hidden in Tennessee's rural vs. urban divide, I didn't realize that I was, in effect, writing about the whole United States. Click here for a final NPR verdict on the numbers, with rural areas going 62-34 percent for Donald Trump and cities voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton to the tune of 59-35 percent.

City people are happy with America, just like London people were happy with life trends in the European Union. The people in depressed towns and smaller cities? Not so much. The 2016 election map, broken down by counties, is going to be Jesusland: The Sequel.

As the exit poll numbers roll out, we are going to find out all kinds of religion-angle things that we already knew.

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