The Riff: Obama Satire...Too Soon?
It finally happened. Six days after the election, Comic Riffs encountered our first official Obama Joke.
Now, by "official" Obama Joke, let us be clear: We mean a professional humorist who makes a joke ABOUT President-elect Obama, in the wake of his landmark ascension. Cartoonists and comics -- many of whom served up a fair number of Obama gags during the long campaign -- have largely stepped back in recent days, deferring to History and The Moment.
In time, though, as jubilation gradually cedes ground to The Job At Hand, cartoonists will sharpen their dip pens and develop comic "takes" on the president-elect. For the relevant good of political cartooning, though -- in a field that seems to lose staff newspaper posts by the week -- we hope the shift is not slow in coming.
Not that their job will be easy.
In August, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, expressed concern, telling Comic Riffs: "If Obama wins, he's going to be difficult. Maybe he'll have an idiot vice president."
And Pulitzer-winning Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune told 'Riffs during the campaign: "It's also either funny or sad that I'm getting complaints on my Obama caricatures. One [reader] said I'm racist because my Obama looked like a sock puppet."
So it was a good sign that satirists can never sit still for long when, on Monday night, comic/actor Richard Belzer took the Kennedy Center stage at the Mark Twain Prize (this year awarded posthumously to George Carlin). "Belz" told the audience he had a sneak-peek copy of Obama's inauguration speech.
After much crinkling of paper and pregnant-pausing, Belzer looked straight-ahead...and began shouting the speech rapidly in mock Arabic. (Getting some of the biggest guffaws of the night, we should note.)
It was fearful Obama critics, of course -- those who gave the election's "secret Muslim" snipes a half-second of thought -- who were being satirized.
Still, it was a genuine Obama Joke. Soon, cartoonists should take the cue.
IN OTHER OBAMA-IN-COMICS NEWS:
Bluewater Productions announced yesterday that Michelle Obama will be the new subject in its ongoing bio-comic series, titled "Female Force."
"In creating an image of our new first lady, Michelle Obama, it was my goal to represent her class, beauty and intelligence," artist Vinnie Tartamella said in the news release. "I hope I reflected these qualities and characteristics in this historical piece."
The book will be released in April.
| November 12, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories: The Riffs
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