Why Conservatives Aren’t as Funny as Liberals.

Via Shyam Dodge
on May 13, 2012
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Warning: this article contains adult language and expresses opinions (in the sole possession of the author, not elephant) that may be offensive, demeaning, and hurtful, which is the intention of the author, not elephant. ~Signed, the author
Stephen Colbert

“There’s no such thing as Conservative humor.”

In response to a recent essay I wrote on humor, a friend, after complimenting me on my analytic prowess in decoding theconditions necessary for comedy, asked “Why don’t conservatives have an equivalent to The Colbert Report or The Daily Show?” The following is the 140 word rant I gave in reply. 

(One caveat: I’m tortured, Jewish, and ugly)

Humor takes balls. There’s no such thing as conservative humor. The libertine is the risk taker, the philanderer, the scatalogical saint, the sodomizer; whereas the conservative is the retentive, the traditionalist, the meticulous sexual anorexic. One must be tortured, dikey, fat, ugly or Jewish in order to be funny.

Conservatives, according to Freud, have an unconscious paranoia surrounding their anuses and therefore are obsessed with their buttholes. This makes them the perpetual “butt end” of all jokes.

Conservatives take life seriously, and thereby miss the entire point of what makes life meaningful, which is the non-serious, the playful and the sexually deviant.

Conservatism seeks to preserve power, social class, and tradition; it is inherently non-subversive, non-irreverent, and therefore non-ironic. Humor comes at the expense of power’s sway, it undermines tradition, and revolts at the thought of conformity. Conservatism does the opposite.

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Editor: Kate Bartolotta


About Shyam Dodge

Shyam Dodge is a former Hindu monk, author, and satirist. He is currently a student of religion at Harvard University. His memoir, Wet Hot and Wild American Yogi, enjoys a cult following in the United States and Europe, both for its enduring controversy and irreverence. His collection of sacred stories, Sweetened Condensed Milk, remains a part of the curriculum in the philosophy portion of many yoga teacher trainings worldwide. You can find his books here: http://amzn.to/utWZO7 Author Website: http://shyamdodge.com/


16 Responses to “Why Conservatives Aren’t as Funny as Liberals.”

  1. yogijulian says:


  2. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Ok, I’m not very funny. I admit it. I love humor, but have to leave it to others. My problem, one of them anyway, is that I’m a fluorescent light. What’s that you ask? It’s an old expression in Japan (young kids don’t know it) for people who take a few seconds before they flicker to life. I.e., people who are slow at catching on. You can’t be a fluorescent light if you wanna be funny.

    Also, I am neither a conservative nor liberal, more of an outside observer watching those two cultural groups battle each other. I have sympathy for both sides, though, and tend to consider all sides (yes, I have good points, too).

    In fact, I know some really funny conservatives. I’d suggest that conservatives, precisely because they are conservative, are much less likely to make a career out of being funny. So, on the public stage, we see lots of liberal comedians but not too many conservative.

    If you don’t know many funny conservatives, it probably just means you don’t know many conservatives period.

  3. Mark Ledbetter says:

    PS, Shyam might be tortured and Jewish, but he's certainly not ugly. Also, I see he's a student at Harvard. Just my prejudice, maybe, but somehow I imagine you're not going to find too many funny conservatives there. Probably have to head way down South or out into the sticks.

  4. I thought there was a whole conservative comedy channel….Fox News?

  5. Shyam Dodge says:

    Dear Fluorescent Light, I am sorry to hear of your condition. It has obviously eroded your ability to decipher tonal inflections, the subtle nuances and variations of vocabulary choice and syntax. If you were not so handicapped you would have been able to decode the above "rant" as an overt form of sarcasm. It deeply saddens me to read of how broken your humor bone really is.

    Also, are you visually impaired? Because, last time I looked I was horribly ugly.

    Signed, a satirist (Look it up! You might find that in order to be funny it must , undoubtedly, come at the expense of someone, which, in this case, means that one must at least perform a kind of polemics. Being fair and balanced just aint funny!)

  6. Shyam Dodge says:


  7. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Hey Bro. Yes, as you decipher, II am impaired in many ways. I never thought visually, tho, ‘least if I have my specs on. So I went back and checked. Don’t take this the wrong way, but if that pic doesn’t look good to you, it must be the sign of a tortured soul.

    Ahem. Ok. Humor. Here’s a joke for Kate, Shyam, and all y’all who like the Fox News joke above. This is a true story that has happened many times, back in the day, teaching at a girl’s high school in Japan.

    Student: Teacher, what mean ‘bald’?
    Me: Bald means ‘hage’.
    Entire class: Wa ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

    Takes a few minutes for the class to calm down.

    What? You Ele readers aren’t cracking up? Not in on the joke? You don’t get it?

    My analysis follows in the next post. (Seeing as how I’m still not able to figure out how to get past the computer-generated Ele requirement of no long posts, I have to break mine up into mini-posts)

  8. Mark Ledbetter says:

    In fact, Shyam, I really liked your analysis. Alas, I admit the humor escapes me. On re-reading, it still comes across as excellent analysis, but I still miss the sarcasm.

    Here’s another element of humor. Group think (which a few of us have been discussing a bit on other threads). Often, for humor to work, you have to share the values of the group. Thus baldness, in and of itself, can be hilarious to Japanese high school girls.

    I’ve noticed here at Ele that Fox News works the same way.

    Comedian: Fox News.
    Ele audience: Wa ha ha ha ha!!!!

    I’m no admirer of Fox, by a long shot. They heavily support the American military machine and crony capitalism, and that’s not very funny. Thing is, so do all the other stations. So why is Fox, in and of itself, singled out? My theory, it’s the above-mentioned cultural war between libs and cons combined with the human need for groupthink. Humor, what you find funny, often serves to confirm your cultural/group identity.

    Part Three to follow

  9. Mark Ledbetter says:

    One last point, not for Shyam but everyone else. I just downloaded his book. If you have a Kindle, it’s dirt cheap. A bit of browsing shows not only deep understanding, including the hardest kind – self understanding – but a light and confident easy-to-read touch. And it’s really funny! Even to me, handicapped though I am. I’m looking forward to the weekend when I can spend some time with it. Give it a shot. Here’s the link.

  10. Shyam Dodge says:

    Ha! Thanks Mark, I guess I must be tortured then 🙂

  11. Shyam Dodge says:

    Excellent points all around Mark. Did you see my post on the conditions for comedy? It covered much of the same ground you describe above (re groupthink and analysis of humor). I'll link it here: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/why-sht-is

  12. Shyam Dodge says:

    Hey, man, I just appreciate the support!

  13. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Wow, nice. A lot to chew on over there (Why Sh#t Is Funny). I’ll try to find some time to comment, and maybe slide in a book recommend for Wet Hot and Wild over there, too.

    Another thought from an unfunny guy fascinated by the topic.

    Humor involves pain. In fact, maybe it’s simply a way to mitigate pain. Ever consider what a strange thing laughter is? Humans suddenly erupt into cacophonic noise. I mean, what’s that? And that noise resembles no other sound we make except crying, sometimes uncontrollable sobbing. In some cases, in fact, one morphs into the other and they can both be uncontrollable.

    When I think about things that are funny in Japan but not in America, or vice versa, more often than not, it’s funny in one place because, in that culture, it involves pain. It’s not funny in the other because it’s not painful there.

    One more thought… Over there (Why Sh#t Is Funny) it seems people agree with the groupthink theory when it applies to conservatives, but not when it applies to liberals. Interesting. A case of groupthink?

  14. MarxistHypocrisy101 says:

    You shoot yourself in the foot before you begin.

    Stephen Colbert is a good summary of how unfunny Liberals are and why, and it's has a lot to do with the fact that their jokes stem from "EVERBODY'S A DUMMY 'CEPT ME CUZ THEY DON'T SHARE MY BELIEFS!" solipsism.

    the only thing "funny" here is your insistence that Liberals, whose entire political dogma revolves around government centralization and blind collectivism, are somehow noncomformist.

  15. […] my heart, I believe most true conservatives truly care about this […]