Andy Borowitz is not funny, says Salon

Salon’s Alex Pareene gives a scathing critique of New Yorker and Borowitz Report writer Andy Borowitz, whom he calls not funny and a hack.

Here’s something you never see. Politically liberal publication Salon and its self-admittedly politically liberal writer Alex Pareene are publicly calling out politically liberal comedian Andy Borowitz as “not funny.”  Pareene makes the same observation that I did when the New Yorker purchased the Borowitz Report.

I wrote:

“Clearly the major issue moving forward is how the Borowitz Report’s ultra-liberal political slant will mesh with The New Yorker’s mega-liberal political slant. For example: Will the two entities clash over whether Mitt Romney is an awful human being or just a terrible excuse of a man? Only time will tell.

“Nonetheless, congratulations are in order for Borowitz. In the last year he has signed on with one of the most respected publishers of humor in the nation and published one of the best collections of humor ever printed. It’s great to see humor writers being taken seriously, and although Borowitz might do well to discover that it’s not just the Republicans who are completely evil and corrupt, his humor remains enjoyable and necessary.”

I stand by that. I am glad to see humor writers get respect. Borowitz compiled an enjoyable humor anthology, and some of his jokes are good. But I also believed then, and believe now, that Borowitz’s point of view is too narrow. We get it. Grrr! Republicans bad! How about pointing some of that rage at other deserving targets?

Pareene echoed my analysis. Here’s how he opened the piece:

“Andy Borowitz makes dad jokes for self-satisfied liberals. If you think Sarah Palin is stupid and Mitt Romney is rich, Andy Borowitz has some jokes that will decidedly not challenge a single one of your prior assumptions!”

I’d like to add something to what I originally wrote. I should have gone deeper on this. Borowitz’s humor is, as I wrote, necessary. It’s necessary for Republicans.

What?!?

I’ll explain.

When comics like Borowitz only aim their humor at Republicans, they do Democrats a disservice. If there is truth to the comedian’s message, the Republicans eventually will get it that they look like a bunch of rich, evil guys. They soften their tone. They change their image, if not their platform. They move incrementally towards something that, publicly, looks less gross. They adjust because they’re getting razor-sharp feedback from clever and motivated people.

Meanwhile Democrats have no idea how ridiculous they look because the nation’s most talented and thoughtful comedians (most of them liberals) are too busy bashing at Republicans to give the Democrats a fair critique. As a result, Democrats are rarely reminded how dumb they can look. I am looking in your direction, anyone who had a hand in the political career of one Joe Biden.

When criticism is fair, the one being criticized learns. When it’s not fair, the critic appears foolish. When there is no criticism, and you’re a politician surrounded by people who keep telling you how great you are, you the politician receive no value.

I’d like to claim this idea as my own, but it’s a variation of Wall Street Journal writer James Taranto’s “The Taranto Principle,” which is when “the media’s failure to hold left-wingers accountable for bad behavior merely encourages the left’s bad behavior to the point that its candidates are repellent to ordinary Americans.”

Comedians, much like the press, provide another check on government power and idiocy. And the best humor writers–H.L. Mencken comes to mind–spare no one.

Photo via Salon

 

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The New Yorker buys the Borowitz Report

Andy Borowitz has sold The Borowitz Report to The New Yorker. Read about it here.

The New Yorker buying the Borowitz Report is the type of thing you’d expect to read in…the Borowitz Report. But it’s true. Borowitz announced it himself in The New Yorker.

The announcement:

After eleven years of writing nothing but fake news at the Borowitz Report, I have to tell you something that actually happened.

I’m excited to announce that The New Yorker has acquired the Borowitz Report. Starting today, the column will be moving to its new home at newyorker.com.

Longtime Borowitz Report readers might ask: how will moving to The New Yorker, known for its excruciating fact-checking, change the Borowitz Report, which is composed entirely of lies?

The answer: not at all. The Borowitz Report will be as inaccurate as always, and if I ever write something that turns out to be true you have my deepest apology and my promise that it won’t happen again.

Another question: what will happen to the Borowitz Report’s editorial independence? No worries on that score, either. David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, has assured me that I can write whatever I want as long as I don’t make fun of Malcolm Gladwell.

And now, if you’ll forgive me, I’d like to say one last thing that’s true.

My mom, Helen Borowitz, who died this month at the age of eighty-three, loved The New Yorker all her life and introduced me to it when I was a little boy. Seeing the Borowitz Report at The New Yorker would have made her so happy. I dedicate all my columns to her memory.

That’s sweet.

Clearly the major issue moving forward is how the Borowitz Report’s ultra-liberal political slant will mesh with The New Yorker’s mega-liberal political slant. For example: Will the two entities clash over whether Mitt Romney is an awful human being or just a terrible excuse of a man? Only time will tell.

Nonetheless, congratulations are in order for Borowitz. In the last year he has signed on with one of the most respected publishers of humor in the nation and published one of the best collections of humor ever printed. It’s great to see humor writers being taken seriously, and although Borowitz might do well to discover that it’s not just the Republicans who are completely evil and corrupt, his humor remains enjoyable and necessary.

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A must-own humor book all humor fans must own

Check out a great book filled with interviews with humor writers

comedy writing book

A few weeks ago I added Andy Borowitz’s The 50 Funniest Writers to this website’s esteemed list of Great Books About Humor Writing.  I read the other books on that list before I launched this site, which means I have not written about them. So let’s change that. I’ll start with one of my favorites.

In And Here’s The Kicker journalist Mike Sacks interviews 21 top humor writers about humor writing. Sacks did his homework. As a result, the conversations are enlightening and entertaining and the interview subjects are forthcoming. The 21 interviewed are Buck Henry, Stephen Merchant, Harold Ramis, Dan Mazer, Merrill Markoe, Paul Feig, Irving Brecher, Bob Odenkirk, Todd Hanson, Marshall Brickman, Mitch Hurwitz, David Sedaris, George Meyer, Al Jaffee, Allison Silverman, Robert Smigel, Dave Barry, Dick Cavett, Larry Wilmore, Jack Handey and Larry Gelbart.

Not coincidentally, Barry, Sedaris, Handey and Wilmore all have pieces in The 50 Funniest Writers.

And Here’s the Kicker was published in 2009, but its stories are timeless. Most of the writers work primarily in television or film. The exceptions are Barry, Sedaris, Hanson and Jaffee, all of whom built careers out of entertaining people via the written word or, in Jaffee’s case, illustration.

A lot of what is discussed in the book regarding the mechanics of writing humor is well-known. In the book Barry makes a point that Bruce Cameron recently made on this website–that there is a technical skill to humor writing that must be learned and perfected.

Continue reading “A must-own humor book all humor fans must own”

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Andy Borowitz wins January 2012 on The Humor Columnist

andy borowitzThese were the five most-popular stories on The Humor Columnist in January 2012:

1. Book Review: The Funniest American Writers
Review of Andy Borowitz’s humor compilation

2. ‘Deranged pen pals’ Zweibel and Barry team up for ‘Lunatics’
Q-and-A with co-author Alan Zweibel

3. Bruce Cameron interview
Interview with recently-retired columnist Bruce Cameron

4. Newt and Schrute
Funny mash-up in the Thank You, Internet section

5. This guy watched ‘The Bachelor’ so you don’t have to
Column about the unspeakable horror

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