Jon Stewart, but Sean Hannity is the king of television comedy.
Yes, of course,
"The Daily Show" is hilarious.
But the Emmy Award-winning Comedy Central program
featuring Stewart's cutting comments on the foibles of campaigners for president
and spot-on parodies of network election coverage by his crew of fake news reporters
is just too intellectually advanced. If you want to see fall-down funny political
humor on cable television, click over to the Fox News Channel and watch Hannity
"interview" members of the Republican ticket.
No, Hannity does not fashion
himself a comic. He doesn't even know he's funny.
It is that unintended quality
that makes Hannity's "interviews" so remarkably ridiculous that it is impossible
not to laugh. When the men who run the country come on his show -- as they have
been for "energize-the-base" appearances in recent days -- Hannity greets them
with a demeanor reminiscent of the "Wayne's World" guys falling to their knees
before Alice Cooper and crying, "We are not worthy!"
There will be those who
suggest that it is unfair to pick on Hannity because, as a Fox host, he is not
supposed to be concerned about his credibility as a television interviewer. But
Hannity's "interviews" are not Fox bad, they are William Shatner singing "Lucy
in the Sky with Diamonds" bad.
Hannity's suck-up session with Vice President
Dick Cheney last Thursday was so syrupy that it made those Julia Roberts celebrity
interviews on "Entertainment Tonight" look like Prime Minister's Question Time
in the English House of Commons.
Hannity, the wide-eyed conservative who is
paired up with in-his-place "liberal" Alan Colmes on Fox's creepily amusing "Hannity
& Colmes" show, did not so much fawn over the vice president as desperately beg
the big guy for approval. Hannity wasn't merely tossing softball questions; he
was playing up to Cheney like a half-wit intern trying to get on the good side
of an annoyed boss.
"Well, here you are in the all-important swing state of
Ohio," Hannity began.
"Right," Cheney replied.
"The president yesterday
mentioned the shameless scare tactics that are being used by the Democrats and
more particularly John Kerry, who is now on the stump regularly saying that there's
a big January surprise," Hannity said, referring to talk of privatization of Social
"Right," Cheney replied.
Seated on a hokey set where he was surrounded
by bales of hay, the vice president did his best to answer Hannity's questions
seriously. But it was simply impossible. As the questions got sillier and sillier,
the vice president grumbled out the sort of several-word responses that are usually
reserved for the final uncomfortable minutes of sit-down sessions with the editorial
board of the Mason City Globe Gazette.
Holding up a booklet, Hannity breathlessly
announced, "I brought another prop with me."
"You brought a lot," Cheney observed,
with all the enthusiasm of an airline passenger being chatted up by a hyperactive
What makes Hannity's performances all the more hilarious is the fact
that the Fox host does not appear to have the faintest inkling of how of how much
his "interviews" look like a local television station's "remote" broadcast from
the grand opening of a new car wash.
When the session was finished, an excited
Hannity greeted the Democratic guest on his "fair-and-balanced" program, U.S.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. After Hannity referred to what had just finished as
"the interview I had with the vice president," Landrieu corrected him. "I wouldn't
call what just happened with the vice president an interview. I think it was an
infomercial for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign."
Hannity blew up, screaming,
"Senator, senator, I think you're a lousy senator, okay?" Then he whined, "If
you don't like it, I don't really care."
But, of course, he did care.
the Fox host repeatedly interrupted Landrieu, the senator said, "Sean, let me
finish please. You did not interrupt the vice president."
"Well, you're not
the vice president," Hannity growled, "and I doubt you ever will be."
That's the genius of his humor.
Other shows hire writers to
come up with funny lines. Hannity is funny without even trying.
2004 The Nation