As objects of late night mirth, are Democrats funnier than Republicans? DNC delegates funnier than RNC delegates? Hillary funnier than Donald?
As questions, these were all settled in the last century: No. In fact, they’re not even questions any longer, but challenges -- challenges to meet, to (if possible) overcome. Or -- by so recognizing the Democrat as inherently less funny than the Republican -- concede and move on, to other more urgent, or at least productive, sources of late night humor: Anything to do with the Kardashians, or “The Bachelor.” Pretty much anything.
As the late night shows shifted -- almost reluctantly, one senses -- their attention to Philadelphia Monday, you could almost feel the air leave the collective late night writers room: No more Trump jokes? No more hair ones? No Melania? WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO FOR THE NEXT FOUR DAYS?
Late nights hosts have long been assumed to be Democrats anyway and if your sympathy lies with your object of parody, than how parodic can your parody be?
Another old question, or charge -- also irrelevant. The Democrats just aren’t funny or much fun this year, especially with the bitterness between Clinton and Sanders supporters.
Which brings us to -- who else -- Stephen Colbert, whose “Late Show” will continue live throughout the week, and which consequently will continue to have first crack at all found comedy such as it is:
In his monologue, referencing Sarah Silverman’s impromptu “you’re being ridiculous” dart at Sanders delegates, he said “wow -- it is rare when the comedian heckles the audience...”
Or his reaction to the Michelle Obama speech, saying she “convinced everyone that it was time to elect a former first lady as president of the United States -- Michelle Obama.”
There were a few halfhearted leaked email jokes, but “Tonight’s” Jimmy Fallon actually beat him out for halfheartedness on that front: “Turns out they rigged it so Hillary could catch all the Pokemons.”
(And let’s take this opportunity to please restate the obvious -- please, no more Pokemon jokes.)
Colbert’s shows are live -- that’s been a boon the show -- but some of his best material has not been: Cold opens that obsessively explore Colbert’s personal predilection for deeply odd, offbeat humor. The best example, maybe the best cold open too, was on Monday’s show -- a dazzling Age of Aquarius-style song and dance number that yoked the ‘late ‘60s Free Love movement to a lifeless, loveless 2016 alt-Clinton platform, of “death. Taxes. Hillary.”
(“...You must rejoice, there is no choice/ she is your destiny/Hillary/Death. Taxes. Hillary.”)
It was as weird as it was good.
Less so: The return of one Caesar Flickerman and his pet weasel Caligula, crashing one more stage, this time at the Wells Fargo Center. Flickerman has been a Colbert character his entire run -- a joke that ran out of gas just around the time the entire “Hunger Games” franchise ran out of gas, which has been a long time now.
Flickerman/Colbert were on a mission -- to crash the podium -- but to get to the punchline, and the conquest, you had to endure a long line of lame one-offs; sadder still, the spectacle of national press photographers actually following him around.
So, on to my what made me laugh:
That terrifically strange cold open on “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” which established -- almost, anyway --that the Democrats and their obsessions may be amusing after all.
What did not: Flickerman. Enough. Already.