by Lucas Molandes
Writers of late night television jokes thrive on current events. Some events are so fruitful they exist within the late night jokes for weeks, months, and even years. We saw it with Bill Clinton. We saw it with Tiger Woods. During the Lopez Tonight monologues this past week, we saw how GLo could barely keep Weiner off his tongue long enough to make jokes about LeBron or Snooki. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Lopez might even have a man crush on a A. Weiner. At one point, Lopez referred to the size of Anthony’s package as “the space shuttle Endeavor.” ￼
So what if Lopez has taken a shine to Weiner. When it comes to marital indiscretions, Lopez allegedly knows what it’s like to step outside the box. I could definitely see Weiner and Lopez getting along: kindred drinking buddies, egging each other on to take another shot. You think Lopez’s wife donated one of her kidneys to him so he wouldn’t sit around filling his Leno-sized head full of Dos Equis? Who better to fill the role of the most uninteresting man in the world than George?
Because late night shows thrive on topical humor, the writers work on jokes until moments before the show begins so they can have the latest punchlines. With such smothering time requirements on the writers, can you blame them for tackling the easy targets and making lowest common denominator jokes each and every night? Realistically, who has time to look around and make socially relevant commentary about the world each and every day?
Okay. Forget you saw that. Besides, The Daily Show only comes on Monday through Thursday. Are you kidding me? They get a three-day weekend? Of course they’re going to have time to write deeper jokes about the world. That’s not the issue. The real issue here is: when is the last time you had a three-day weekend? And really, who needs John Stewart prancing around with all of his relevant award winning humor? I enjoy Lopez because he speaks to the common man inside all of us. Sure, Lopez Tonight also only comes on Monday through Thursday, but at least he’s not boring me with jokes about Yemen - whatever that is. All I want is to keep raccoons out of my above ground pool, feed my family and put over-priced gas in my tank. How’s the Middle East ever going to affect my life?
Have you ever noticed that people on television never watch television? They’re always out doing more shit with their fake lives than I’m doing with my real existence. If you ever do see someone on a sitcom watching television, they’re usually wearing sloppy clothing, in the midst of depression, watching the dumbest thing ever. And I’m sitting there watching them, thinking to myself, “ha, look how dumb they are wasting their lives watching television…oh, damn…that’s me.” Is that what television thinks of the people who watch television?
Lopez knows his audience, and thus he responds by giving them the humor they keep coming back for. Lopez didn’t create this model; television has been working with this philosophy for a while now. Does television dumb it down to shows like Lopez Tonight because that’s what people want, or has television decided what people want and therefore they’ve built programs around it? Really, it is a chicken or the egg situation.
This coming week, I will keep an eye on the headlines, and I will watch Lopez Tonight. Whenever he makes a joke that appeals to the lowest common denominator, I will attempt to write a joke on the same topic to counter balance his. At the end of the week, I’ll put what I have into blog form and see if I can put Anthony Weiner where my mouth is. Till then.
Lucas Molandes is a stand-up comedian that has made appearances at the prestigious Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” and CNN”s “Not Just Another Cable News Show.”