A New Kind of Comedy
A Commentary By John Stossel
A woman tells the cop who stopped her in a carpool lane she's allowed to drive there because her pronouns are "they" and "them."
That's from a video by a conservative Christian satire site called the Babylon Bee. Their humor gets millions of views.
"Christian conservatives used to ... be very dour and self-serious," says Bee editor-in-chief Kyle Mann in my new video.
Today, he says, it's the left who are self-serious. "They're the ones that have trouble laughing at themselves."
For example, late night hosts like Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert passionately defend COVID-19 vaccines.
"It is a lecture," complains Mann.
"The left used to be anti-establishment," adds Bee actress Chandler Juliet. Now, she says, 'They've become the blob. ... We're super happy to be leading the comedic conversation on the right."
One Babylon Bee video, "The Woke Zone," makes fun of the way the media ignored violence and arson during the George Floyd protests.
"Do you ever feel gratitude to the left that they give you so much material?" I ask.
"We have to write things that are funnier than things they're actually doing," Mann responds. "That makes our job very difficult."
One Bee sketch portrays its writers struggling to find new material.
"John Kerry warns that the war in Ukraine might distract from climate change!" suggests one.
Can't do it, explains another. "It actually happened." Yes, Kerry really did say that.
"Cosmo magazine features a morbidly obese woman on the cover as the picture of health" and, "Math professor says 'two plus two equals four' is racist!" are among other ideas that can't be used as jokes.
"A math professor really said two plus two equals four is racist?" I ask.
It's "a colonialist, white supremacist idea," explains Mann.
Today the Bee reaches more people than The Onion. The establishment doesn't like that, so some people actually sic so-called fact checkers on the Bee.
One article fact-checked by Snopes was titled, "Bernie Sanders Vows To Round Up Remaining ISIS Members, Allow Them To Vote."
"Does Snopes not understand that you're making jokes?" I ask.
"I think that they know what our intention is," answers Juliet. "They just don't like us."
Recently, Twitter banned the Bee. Their offense was tweeting an article that named Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine "Babylon Bee's Man of the Year."
Levine is a transgender woman. Calling her the man of the year is a joke I wouldn't make. But it doesn't need to be censored.
Twitter says they'll allow the Bee back on the platform only if they delete the tweet. Mann says he won't.
"Twitter has the capability to just delete the tweet themselves. They want us to bend the knee and be the ones to click, 'Yes, we acknowledge hateful conduct.' We're not going to do that."
Today, a lot of comedians attract sizable audiences by mocking the left. Some I found funny are JP Sears, Ryan Long and FreedomToons.
The culture is changing.
The highest rating late-night comic these days is often not Colbert, Kimmel or Fallon, but Greg Gutfeld of Fox.
Even a few left-leaning comedians like Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle are mocking the intolerant left.
"I talk about AIDS, famine, cancer, the Holocaust, rape, pedophilia ... the one thing you mustn't joke about is identity politics," says Gervais in his recent Netflix special.
Professional media critics trashed him for that. But the special was hugely popular with the public.
The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are revealing. Critics gave Gervais' special a 29% rating, calling it "terribly unfunny" and "a detestable combination of smug and obtuse."
Viewers gave it a 92% rating.
The same is true of Chapelle's latest special, "The Closer." Critics give it just 40%. The audience gives it 95%.
Clearly, many people are tired of smug, condescending humor.
I'm glad the Babylon Bee, and others, give us an alternative.
John Stossel is creator of Stossel TV and author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2022 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
See Other Political Commentaries.
See Other Commentaries by John Stossel.
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.