Comedy in the age of Obama

Will the new president be a wide enough target for humor?

NEW YORK -- Will political comedy be easier or more difficult under President Obama? That was a key question discussed by a panel of experts here Wednesday night.

"The Daily Show" co-creator and political humorist Lizz Winstead, who hosted the debate, shrugged off the suggestion that the president-elect was too tough a target for real punchlines. She said likely jokes about Obama in the White House would revolve around how he handles power.

Roseanne Barr argued that the level of comedic sophistication will rise compared with the Bush era. "Obama is going to raise the level of intelligence (of jokes)," she said.

Cartoonist Ted Rall even predicted the age of Obama would be similar to the presidency of John F. Kennedy. "JFK was a good time for comedy," he said. "Obama is so stuffed and uptight. Maybe he is asking for it."

Conservative commentator Monica Crowley, however, said she has generally heard from comedians that they find little fun in Obama. She can't wait to see how things will work out once Obama moves into the White House, she added.

Baratunde Thurston from "The Onion" and conservatve blogger and pundit Robert A. George also participated in the post-election debate that was part of the New York Comedy Festival.

The panel, under the title "We Have a Winner," took place at the 92nd Street Y on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

For a long time, the panel's discussion revolved around the question of how the U.S. media covers the news and whether they provide a representative picture of the world around us. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also took up much time. Repeatedly, groups of audience members got up and left.

In an emotional moment during the Q&A session, one woman in the audience picked up on that and said that she enjoyed the comments, but she had expected more punchlines and fun. "This was marketed as part of the comedy festival," she said and earned applause from much of the remaining crowd.

"I'm not disappointed!" yelled a man in the audience, and he also got some applause.

Barr ended that awkward moment and earned some chuckles when she offered: "I really had no clue that this was supposed to be comedy."
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