Comedy Central Needs a Conservative Counterweight

It's time for Comedy Central to go right. If its appeal is mainly in Democratic forts such as Boston or San Francisco, it's time to go red state. It's time for the network to give conservatives, who in Jon Stewart's words, feel they've been "victims of a witch hunt," a place of refuge.

Forget ideology. Like drill baby drill and tax cuts, there's money in it. It's a ripe chance to expand viewership. The tack worked for Fox News.

Comedy Central's late-night block of Stewart and Stephen Colbert needs an addition coming out of right field. It needs a show starring a comedian who loves guns; says the heck with the UN; wonders what's the big deal with global warming; and wants Medicare atomized.

Let's submit there is a liberal bias in the media and Stewart and Colbert carry water for the left. Let's agree that, as Fox News' Chris Wallace suggested to Stewart on Sunday, there is a hunger for a counterweight.

In a discussion with MediaPost marketing chief Robert McEvily, it became clear a show with an unabashed conservative comedian offers low hanging fruit for Comedy Central. 

After all, there is plenty of activity on the political left to poke fun at. So much ludicrousness that even ardent liberals would be laughing.

Start with anything Dennis Kucinich says.

How about Keith Olbermann on Cuurent TV railing against corporate exploitation, while Comcast owns up to 10% of the network (per the Los Angeles Times).

How about this one from 2007: New York Senators pushing for $1 million in federal funds for a museum commemorating the Woodstock bash.

Many in the conservative movement are looking for a sunnier image. They want a front-person divergent from the dour, glum, block-everything Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. They want someone without the anger of some Tea Partiers.

They need help from the hated media.

Who better than having their own Stewart? Someone brilliant, likeable, hilarious and trustworthy.

This Comedy Central jokester doesn't have to be a uniter. Heck, a divider might be more funny.

The conservative humorist should be anything but fair and balanced. Probably slyly titled and taking a cue from what Stewart says he is: "I'm a comedian first. My comedy is informed by an ideological background. There's no question about that."

Trouble is, where will Comedy Central find this breakout right-winger? Liberals just appear to be more funny. (Insert your reason here.)

Fox News actually has a right-leaning talent in Greg Gutfeld. You didn't know Roger Ailes is in the comedy business? That's because Gutfeld is on at 3 a.m.

So who else to join Comedy Central and debunk climate change?

Maybe Dennis Miller, who weirdly went from the brilliance of hosting "Weekend Update" on "Saturday Night Live" to an outspoken conservative, but he's been around a while. Same with Ben Stein, who had a Comedy Central show.

Adam Sandler is apparently a registered Republican and would be ideal, but that isn't happening.

Maybe Comedy Central needs to troll open-mike nights in Topeka?

Tags: television, tv
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22 comments about "Comedy Central Needs a Conservative Counterweight ".
  1. Andy H , June 21, 2011 at 4:11 p.m.

    This is ridiculous. It isn't about a left/right ideology. Which is why those shows have tried and failed. You completely missed the point of Stewart's interview with Chris Wallace. It's not about an ideology, it's about addressing laziness and hypocrisy, which the Daily Show does on both sides of the aisle.

    If you think it's liberal, it's because you think hyperbole and self-serving agendas belong only to one side of the spectrum.

  2. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing , June 21, 2011 at 4:47 p.m.

    Its about comedy. They roasted Larry the Cable guy and Donald Trump. isn't that enough. what about stephen colbert?

  3. Joe Jacobs , June 21, 2011 at 4:53 p.m.

    There's not much that's funny in protecting tax cuts for the richest among us while attacking the funding for Medicare and Social Security that was intended to protect the weakest among us.

    The Right Wing has to go after the Liberals because they're actual policies are pretty cold and heartless.

    Although most of them purport to be Christians, they see to have forgotten that "Whatsoever you do unto the least of My brethren, you do unto Me."

    I, for one, would be extremely surprised if Comedy Central goes Conservative on us anytime soon.

  4. Le Bronze from Baton , June 21, 2011 at 4:57 p.m.

    Doesn't Stephen Colbert play a conservative on TV? He's funny and conservative. Some people are never satisfied.

  5. Mark Walker from aka Media Mark , June 21, 2011 at 4:59 p.m.

    Oh my goodness. Is someone on the "right" begging for a little "Fairness Doctrine" here?! It's amazing how a few rating point gains, and suddenly TV isn't so funny anymore...

    I'd say CC will introduce some conservatism about the same time FN adds a little sanity (uh, sorry- I meant liberalism).

  6. Thomas Jones from XYZ , June 21, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.

    "Submit" all you want, Davey, your premise is flawed. Stewart and Colbert do nothing more than remind us again and again that the emperor has no clothes, while on the other hand, Fox imagines itself the emperor's cod piece.

  7. Shelli Strand from STRAND Marketing, Inc. , June 21, 2011 at 5:07 p.m.

    You may want to look at viewership (you're in media?) Fox = older, mainly white, mostly affluent. Comedy Central, just about the opposite. CC 'needs' a conservative like a hole in the head, as proven by Dennis Miller, to your point.

    The Stewart/Colbert formula is about satire and exposing hypocrisy. The exclamation being news media is NOT fair and balanced. I doubt the right could play in this ball game, since unfair and unbalanced communication seems one of their scant strengths of late.

    No, I think the last thing that would work with the CC viewership is more hypocritical 'counterweight', to use Wallace's words.

    Besides, the right has their very own whole network (Fox), if they can't win with that, perhaps they are unwinnable.

  8. Robert Quaglia from GonzoMedia, Inc. , June 21, 2011 at 5:45 p.m.

    i see no reason for CC to have a right slanted program. FAX News has no left focused one. It seems the right is always "misunderstood" anyway - the left leaning media is anything but. Fagitaboutit....

  9. Brent Walker from Soundscapes , June 21, 2011 at 5:47 p.m.

    David...your politics are showing.

  10. Paula Ernst from Message Matters , June 21, 2011 at 7:36 p.m.

    I suspect many folks are more eager to see news organizations that are balanced than they are comedy shows that are balanced.

    Having said that, have you ever actually watched The Colbert Report? Stephen Colbert portrays a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, and I've never seen him break character. He has a pet name for his handgun and often brings 'her' on his show, he adores Ronald Reagan, scoffs at the concept of more taxes for the wealthy, and cozies up to big business every chance he can get on his show. Yes, it's a parody and yes, it's funny.

  11. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative , June 21, 2011 at 8:10 p.m.

    You want "fair and balanced" humor? Conservative humor? There's always Jay Leno. Not to mention Glenn Beck. He's pretty funny, too.

  12. Dmitry Sinelov from GW Hoffman , June 22, 2011 at 5:35 p.m.

    Wow! There's nothing left for me to add. Hope the DS and CR don't change the format as they are becoming (became) almost the ONLY voice of intelligence and sanity lately.

  13. Marla Goldstein from Around The Bend Media , June 22, 2011 at 6:33 p.m.

    Methinks article is written with tongue firmly in cheek.

    But just in case...

    Conservative-based comedy is an oxymoron. Conservatives aren't funny. Dennis Miller? A barrel of laughs. I scream with laughter, tears running down my cheeks.

    Not.

  14. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , June 22, 2011 at 6:40 p.m.

    I'll take this at face value. This article suggests there is a market opportunity among underserved conservatives who are hungry for comedy.

    I'm not certain I agree. First, there is roughly a 20% segment of the population that is ideologically described here. Read the viewer statistics and it's clear Fox makes it's money off this core plus a small amount of trickle in.

    By contrast, gently moderate/liberal news (like Stewarts ilk) gets it's viewers from both the 50% core of American population and substantial viewing from the highly progressive 25%.

    So, Stewarts show works financially because it has a large market base (let's call it 65%). By contrast, a conservative counterpoint would have to work based on less than half and possibly only a third of the potential viewers.

    That's going to push the show into the 2am hour based on viewership.

    In fact, Fox's supposed dominance comes because it gets the full 20% conservative viewership. So for a major news event, the remaining 80% is spread across 3 cable networks, 4 national networks, many regional cable news outlets and a hundred or so local broadcast stations. (I've checked these numbers a few times. This reflects viewing reality.)

    That fragmentation gives Fox economic power, but is misleading as to the importance of their particular viewpoint across the population.

  15. Kate Lafrance from Hartford Woman Online Magazine , June 22, 2011 at 10:31 p.m.

    Hate to say it but I personally know A LOT of people who believe that the character portrayed by Stephen Colbert IS a REAL CONSERVATIVE. He's saying what they want to hear so often that they completely miss the subtle gleam in his eye and cheer him on. They are faithful Fox watchers who are used to being pandered to by media figures. Put Stephen Colbert (in character) in front of Fox Sunday viewers and he will probably become a hero to them - seriously.

  16. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , June 23, 2011 at 1:23 p.m.

    @Kate - it is interesting how that happens. In "True Enough", Farhad Manjoo relates how research into the show Archie Bunker showed that your response to Archie depended on your starting point. In other words, grumpy bigots tended to admire Archie for his frank observations. Meanwhile the show creators and more balanced people tended to see Archie as a blindingly accurate criticism of bigotry.

    In truth, I think the show DID have a positive impact - but perhaps by influencing the people on the cusp who cleaned up their acts.

    Would love to see similar research on Colbert.

  17. Michael Cornette from Bonten Media , June 23, 2011 at 5:41 p.m.

    That's right Joe, many of us on the right simply pretend to be Christians so we can get votes and fit in at the country club. I believe it was Luke who said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" I have neither the time nore the patience to debate you on the track record of tax cuts and revenues to the treasury (look it up, they work).

    I seriously don't know of one true conservative who wishes Comedy Central had a 30 minute show devoted to ridiculing those on the left. Frankly, it would be too easy. As the saying goes, those who can't, mock. The left has proven their ideals don't work in the real world where concepts like passing a budget is needed. So instead of leading, it is easier to make fun of those they disagree with in the hopes of hiding their failures.

    It's easy to make fun of Fox News, but there is not one other cable television host that would kill for their success and ratings.

  18. Joe Mandese from MediaPost , June 24, 2011 at 4:03 a.m.

    Frankly, I think the humor on Comedy Central is a little too conservative.

  19. Thomas Siebert from WOLFGANG SOLO: Strategic Communications & Benevolent Propaganda , June 24, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.

    @michael cornette --

    Almost everything you write is wrong, yet you feel free to toss out the lazy yet arrogant comment, "I have neither the time nor the patience to debate you on the track record of tax cuts and revenues to the treasury (look it up, they work)."

    So, since I'm not lazy, I looked it up myself. What I found was conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation (then parroted by looney/Moonie Washington Times and recovering drug addict Rush Limbaugh, etc.) make that claim. Non-partisan groups like FactCheck.org point out that while yes, revenues increased, they would increase much much more with them.
    http://www.factcheck.org/taxes/supply-side_spin.html

    In fact, just yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office release a study and statistics that show if the Bush tax cuts expire, the deficit will be gone by the end of Obama's second term.
    http://bit.ly/laOuCc

    Oh, and there'll never be a conservative Daily Show because conservative humor, like conservatives in general, are out of the American mainstream. Doesn't anybody remember Joel Surnow's "Half Hour Comedy Hour"? It aired on Fox "News" for about 20 seconds? It failed. Unsurprisingly.

  20. Michael Cornette from Bonten Media , June 24, 2011 at 6:32 p.m.

    Thomas,

    Would you mind listing out all of the many the countries around the world that taxed themselves to prosperity?

    So while my statement was true about revenues to the treasury increasing with tax cuts (I guess that was the part of my post that was right and not wrong), your point is it doesn't matter, there would be more money if we increased taxes.

    Again, I will gladly wait for the name of a country that has taxed itself to economic prosperity. Surely being sans-laziness, you should be able to knock that out quickly.

  21. Thomas Siebert from WOLFGANG SOLO: Strategic Communications & Benevolent Propaganda , June 25, 2011 at 2:20 p.m.

    There will never be a time when everyone is prosperous. Even Jesus said the poor are always going to be around. It's a matter of having revenues to repair infrastructure, support the education system, provide healthcare, etc., all the things a healthy country needs to support the common good of all citizens.

    On a larger scale, it's about greed and selfishness vs. communal concerns and the social good.

    You clearly don't get that and I don't expect to convince you, Cornette; you're too far gone. I post to threads like to to sway the tipping point people in the middle, who might take the things you say without the shaker of salt it so clearly needs.

    In parting, I'll note that we don't much need to tax anybody other than the uber-wealthy, and you pointedly ignored the facts about how the debt will disappear if the Bush tax cuts lapse. But that's a typical right wing strategy that, again, deserves pointing out.

  22. T Y from Freelance Producer / DP , June 27, 2011 at 9:19 a.m.

    @Michael: Countries that tax themselves to prosperity: UK, Germany and Sweden to name a few. While the economies in UK and Germany are down somewhat, they are not nearly in the situation that the US finds itself. (Oh, healthcare outcomes, quality of life, education are all way better there.)

    Your tax question is specious however. If the tax rate is 100% and you lower it then that economy will probably improve. If the tax rate is 5% and dropped to 0% then the economy will probably founder. The trick has always been to find a "sweet spot" in taxation and government services.

    BTW, Bush II’s two wars are the only wars in American history in which taxes were not raised to pay for them.

    Economics is not called “the dismal science” for nothing. During the Great Depression public spending was increased substantially via WPA etc to get people working and that intentionally drove up deficits. Now some people like to say that WW2 ended the depression. War spending is just another form of public spending that puts people to work but instead of building useful things like roads and bridges, bombs are made which destroy someone else’s roads and bridges.

    On government services… one could argue that the core reason for America’s financial success throughout the 20th century was because of stringent regulations on financial markets that gave people confidence to invest in those stock markets. The laissez-fair, Ayn Rand, nonsense postulates that if people lose all their money in a crooked market system then the next time those same investors should make smarter decisions. If anyone thinks THAT system would yield prosperity for very many people, or national stability, they need to get on some meds.

    Conservatives tend to be a more angry group compared to liberals who tend towards humor in their debates. Generally, but it’s a broad generalization.