Political comedy doesn’t have to be crude

“Everything is changing,” remarked Will Rogers many years ago, “People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”

It’s never been truer than today. Too many so-called comedians have forgotten how to use real humor as a way to jab politicians. Much of their criticism is simply mean-spirited.

That was on display at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, when Michelle Wolf launched into a diatribe about some members of President Donald Trump’s administration.

As a reminder, then, that political commentary can be both biting and funny, here’s a selection. Some of it is reasonably recent, while some dates back many years. The best, you’ll note, came from the politicians themselves:

“The Democrats are the party of government activism, the party that says government can make you richer, smarter, taller and get the chickweed out of your lawn. Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then get elected and prove it.” — Comedian P.J. O’Rourke.

“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” — Mark Twain.

“I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” — Ronald Reagan.

“In a recent fire, Bob Dole’s library burned down. Both books were lost. And he hadn’t even finished coloring one of them.” — Jack Kemp.

“All of the problems we face today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indians.” — Pat Paulsen.

“Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working Americans. It’s the other lousy 2 percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.” — Lily Tomlin.

“All politicians should have three hats — one to throw into the ring, one to talk through, and one to pull rabbits out of if elected.” — Carl Sandburg.

“My choice early in life was between whether to be a piano player in a (house of ill repute) or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.” — Harry Truman.

On the allegation he was two-faced: “If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?” — Abraham Lincoln.

“An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.” — Simon Cameron (Pennsylvania member of Congress and secretary of war for a time under Lincoln).

“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.” — Charles de Gaulle.

“They say hard work never killed anyone. But I figure, why take chances?” — Ronald Reagan.

The king, of course, was Will Rogers, so we’ll close with a few of his:

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

“The country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when a baby gets hold of a hammer.”

“It’s easy being a humorist when you’ve got the whole government working for you.”

“Democrats are the only reason to vote for Republicans.”

Mike Myer can be reached at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.