With memes characterizing much of the satire generated around the 2012 presidential election — those like “horses and bayonets,” “Obama eater of dog,” and “you didn’t build that” — some are wondering which party is really the cleverer, funnier and wittier of the two.
This is where Wired’s Joel Warner and Peter McGraw take a look at the facts of who’s saying what, who’s getting the most coverage and more.
Taking a look at past elections, University of Arkansas political science professor Patrick Stewart is reported by the Wired writers as finding no funnier candidate in 2008. In his book — Debatable Humor: Laughing Matters on the 2008 Presidential Primary Campaign — Steward did distinguish a difference between the types of jokes made by liberals and conservatives. Wired noted that Stewart found Democrats try to draw people in, encouraging them to “join me” with the joke. While on the flip side, Republicans were a bit more insider with their humor.
As for which party provides the best fodder to satirists themselves, here are the stats of the last few presidents that Wired pulled together:
Researchers there cataloged every joke told about a political figure on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, The Late Show With David Letterman, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart over an eight-month period in 2010. They found that 9 percent of the 1,625 zingers were about President Obama. Republican President George W. Bush fared worse in 2002, since Leno, Letterman and Conan O’Brien knocked him in 10 percent of their jokes. But neither president compared to the skewering that Bill Clinton received in 1994, since the Democrat was the butt of talk-show jokes 15 percent of the time. So much for the idea that late night is a purely Democratic domain.
Wired noted the lack of comedians from the conservative side of the line, also pointing out the short stint the Fox News channel had with its “The 1/2 Hour News Hour” in 2007. “Seemingly liberal-minded satirical news programs [like] ‘The Daily Show With Jon Stewart’ and ‘The Colbert Report,'” continue to have a strong following.
As for who has a better sense of humor when it comes to jokes, after reviewing a study and other factors, Wired concludes that Republicans can appreciate humor but need to “find the right funnyman (or woman) for the job.” Or have they done so already?
Read more details from Wired’s analysis here.