Show me the funny

Quite a refreshing change of pace on the campaign trail over the last few days as it suddenly became Comedy Central. It started Thursday in New York at the Alfred E. Smith Catholic Charities Dinner — where it’s a tradition every four years for the presidential candidates to lighten up and let their funny side show.

McCain and Obama each had their 15 minutes of stand-up material. Obama was good — but he was no match for McCain, who is a master at delivering one-liners with a style not seen since Ronald Reagan. McCain, who was up first, stuck it to the media elite. He joked that some proud Manhattan Democrats at the event were secretly pulling for him to win — and without missing a beat, called attention to an attending Hillary Clinton. McCain got several good digs in on Obama, the most memorable being that he called Obama “that one” but that Obama “has a pet name for me — George Bush.” McCain used some comic psychology on Obama when he turned the podium over to him, telling the audience to prepare themselves for the funniest 15 minutes you’re ever gonna hear.

Obama was best when poking fun at his own image. He told the audience that contrary to popular belief, he wasn’t born in a manger. Rather, he was from the planet Krypton sent by his father Jor-el to save the planet Earth. Obama also joked that his greatest strength was his humility, which not only got a laugh from the crowd, but the candidate himself. He got some good digs in on McCain. For instance, talking about the man the dinner was named after. Alfred E. Smith was a Democratic presidential candidate in the 1920s. Obama said the only thing he knew about Smith was what he learned from McCain, who used to pal around with him. Obama also joked that the housing crisis was 8 times tougher on McCain.

The jokes were on the two candidates. Don’t forget to vote in November, because come January, the joke could be on us.

Show Me the Not-so Funny:

A rather bland and predictable attempt to cash in on Sarah Palin’s celebrity and Tina Fey’s impression of the governor last night on “Saturday Night Live.” In the show’s opening, Palin didn’t get much to do but stand next to the show’s producer, Lorne Michaels, while in an obvious bit, Alec Baldwin — Fey’s co-star on “30 RocK” — mistakes the real Palin for Fey, says some nasty things about the governor, and when Michaels informs him that she’s the real Palin, Baldwin tells her she’s even “hotter in person.” Baldwin looked like he was channeling McCain in the first debate with Obama — he seldomed looked at Palin. Even Fey’s impression of Palin wasn’t up to snuff. And the only time the two shared the stage was when one left the comic prop podium and the other one took it.

Talk about a missed opportunity — which is a mortal sin when it comes to comedy. When Palin first burst upon the scene and the Fey resemblance was newsworthy, Palin herself said she attended a Halloween party costumed as Fey. A good bit might have been Fey at her home giving out candy to kids in Halloween costumes. Fey herself is naturally dressed up like Palin. The zinger: Fey’s door bell rings and there’s Palin, disguised as Fey. Turn about is always fair play. Or, since Josh Brolin, who plays George W. Bush in “W.,”hosted the show, there could’ve been a skit with him as W. and Palin trying to distance herself from him.

Palin did get to deliver the show’s signature opening. But that was about it. Until later, when they made Palin stick around for “Weekend Update,” which included a clever parody of Palin’s image — seeing Russia from her house, hubby Todd, moose killing — done to rap music. Palin sat there and moved her arms back and forth to the beat, doing her best with what little was offered to her. The whole thing looked like a comic roast that comedians do in Vegas to a famous celebrity. But at those events, even the person getting roasted gets his or her turn to fire back. Instead, “SNL” left Palin with an empty cartridge, and in the process shot itself in the foot. Talk about lame….

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