I was in bed last night well before the Jimmy Fallon show came on, so I
had to wait until this morning before watching the president slow-jam the news.
I laughed out loud.
You got to give President Obama credit. As president, he is pretty damn funny.
Still, and I hate to be a spoilsport, but I have to ask the question: Do you really want your commander in chief to be the joker in chief?
Since Richard Nixon appeared on “Laugh-In” in the late 1960s, our nation’s presidents have veered ever closer to becoming full-time comedians. The reason is simple. They want to appeal to more voters. And by appearing to have a healthy sense of humor, they figure they can get more young folks to vote for them.
But funny doesn’t always translate if you are leader of the free world.
There is nothing funny about war, unemployment, bankruptcy and terrorism.
President George W. Bush made a terrible mistake when he once made light of our inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He looked like a fool, because obviously, we didn’t find any there. And he looked callous, because thousands of Americans lost their lives in a conflict that he authorized, mostly based on the assumption that we were going to find weapons of mass destruction.
Presidents do best when they laugh at the jokes of others, or they make jokes at their own expense. Jack Kennedy was the master of self-deprecating humor.
They don’t do as well when they make jokes about serious matters or when they make jokes about other people. The president is the guy at the top of the heap. When he makes cutting comments about other people, he looks mean and petty, kind of like when the prom king makes fun of the nerdy kid in the chess club.
The slow jam was uncomfortably funny. Jimmy Fallon was making fun of the office of the president in a Snoop Dogg kind of way. Obama was smooth, but also he came off a little preachy. The whole skit would have been devastatingly funny on “Saturday Night Live,” if Fred Armisen had been playing Obama. But because Obama was playing Obama, I thought it was demeaning to the president and to the presidency.
But I have to give Fallon credit. It was funny. Laugh-out-loud funny. And at the end of the day, that is the comedian’s job, to make his audience laugh.
The president, of course, has a different job. I wish he would start doing it.