Thursday, April 21

Dennis Miller Time

Dennis Miller was the guest on The Daily Show last night and raised a couple of interesting questions, such as why he was given two segments and WTF does he think he's doing with his career, if any.

Miller's schtick was wholly scripted, which allowed him to follow the time-honored showbiz tradition of bringing the show to a screeching halt right off the bat. Sal Mineo's chalk outline? Popeye Doyle and the Peter Principle? He righted himself momentarily with a Pope joke ("I don't know about you, but when I see a German guy on a balcony and cheering throngs below, I get nervous") before lurching into unwatchability. Then came the moment I tuned in for in the first place: "I know a lot of you think I'm a right-wing nut because I backed Bush and the war, but I'm a libertarian." This, by way of explaining that he was actually personally opposed to child molestation by priests (!). Really? That's what distinguishes the libertarian wing of the party now--it believes that child abuse laws should extend to religious figures?

Then came the second segment. Lordy. They should have booked the chimp. "I'm a libertarian" about three more times, apparently playing to TDS's dope-smoking demo, a defense of the war on Iraq based on the fact that it was a handy target, and a riff on the ridiculousness of global warming. Sheesh, Dennis, is that CNBC audience too big for you? The fall from C-list comedian to no-list comedian to Netscape pitchman hasn't been rapid enough?

I switched over to the last few minutes of his own show, which I hadn't seen since day two. His skills are not improving, but I noticed something which also happened when he was with Jon. Miller now careens into people on stage, fist-bumps guests, etc., in what comes across as a desperate attempt to demonstrate that he's not a right-wing nut. He's a libertarian. And zany.

I don't get it. It has nothing whatsoever to do with his political views, for me, but the violation of a cardinal rule of comedy: you can't expect us to laugh at your view of the world's foibles unless you include your own. Otherwise you're like Jack E. Leonard peaking though the curtains at a half-empty house before a dinner theatre production of Waiting for Godot. Babe.

12 comments:

Drew said...

Damn straight. I saw him interview Patton Oswalt on his own show last week and talk about patronizing. Here's a comedian that's 10 times funnier than he ever was and he's lecturing him on the benefits of doing 'King of Queens' so he can get a regular check.

Spare us your 'grandfather of all things funny' routine Dennis. You never were and never will be remembered as fondly as someone like George Carlin or Rodney Dangerfield. You're about as relevant to today's comic scene as Yakov Smirnoff.

Thorlac said...

Regarding Miller, all I ever wanted was for someone to accidentally crush his larynx. While it appears that I'm advocating violence, I'm really not; I'm libertarian.

D. Sidhe said...

My sense was less that he's a libertarian and more that he's, well, ignorant. I mean, he spent a while on mocking global warming and on proposing that the new pope will do something to stop kids from being abused by the clergy, and to me it said nothing so much as "I don't read anything more than headlines".
If you're honestly paying attention, and, for example, your paycheck doesn't depend on your determined ignorance, it's not that complicated to figure out where his stances on either of these issues fall apart.
Sure, you can get some okay laughs forcing idiocy for a joke, but how long can you make it last? And how compatible is it with the spastic cultural references?
One or the other seems doomed to be wasted on any given audience. I'm just a little surprised at the fact that *both* seem to be wasted on his CNBC audience.

OGeorge said...

People are simply finding out that Dennis Miller is the most overrated "intellectual comedian" ever. Funny (peculiar, not ha ha) but I may be the only person in America who thinks he did his best work on Monday Night Football. But then I'm not the brightest candle on the chandelier on humanity either.

KathyR said...

I'm not sure which was harder to watch, Miller's scripted unfunny riff/rant, esp. the global warming stuff, or Stewart's laughing at it all.

doghouse riley said...

Ogeorge, I liked him on MNF too, the two or three times I saw him (I'm married to a light sleeper and an early riser, so the only way I can actually listen to something that runs past midnight is with headphones, and I move around too much for that. Plus most of the games suck). But it overexposed that schtick of his, which is too thin to begin with.

And kathy, yeah, that distinct "commedians' table" feel was all wrong. If he wanted to come on TDS and rehabilitate his image he should have submitted to an interview instead of doing ten minutes of standup. And Jon should have grilled him.

Cynthia said...

TDS is funny because it's intelligent. They use the facts to skewer their victim. I sat through Miller's segments wondering "WTF? Why is Stewart laughing at this?" Especially, the global warming bit. I kept thinking, "that's not true. That's not true! THAT'S NOT TRUE!!" I couldn't even muster a smile.

DonnyGull said...

Its about time that I found fellow mockers of Miller. He was voted "Rectum of the Week " several times , at a now defunct web site. They considered him for the Yearly title but decided against it as he would no doubt take it as a compliment. First trip here and am greatly enjoying the thoughts.

SuzanH said...

Thank you! I can't believe Dennis Miller is still finding work. I missed TDS, and I don't watch his show, but I did hear him on the XM comedy channel and I basically just sat in the car going, Huh? Is that supposed to be funny?

I will laugh at something that skewers those tenets that I hold dear, if it is in fact FUNNY. But he's not funny. And it's got nothing to do with being a libertarian.

Glad to know he's against child abuse by preists, though. That makes it all better.

Anonymous said...

Miller has it right. He'll be hit, unlike that jackass so-called comedian now senate hopful that ranted on the network that nobody cares about.

Anonymous said...

I heard his show on "Intelligent Conservative Talk Radio"

Why did they feel the need to assert intelligence in the title? It sounds like boasting with confidence and assurance to the audience of the quality of the broadcasting. But it may very well reflect the deep sense of intellectual inferiority to force onto the listener what I deem to be a statement that bears a contradiction. There is nothing intelligent about a conservative mind that doesn't dare to explore beyond the frozen pre-set limits, the opposite of which defines a liberal mind.

- HERCULES, THE GREAT <--- A self serving statement that is no less propagandistically powerfull than the phrase "Intelligent Conservative Talk Radio" :)

Anonymous said...

Thinly disguised hate of a person who woke up from the mental illness known as liberalism. Come on people, you can do better than this, oh wait, you can't. Stop drinking the koolaid and think for yourselves, but I know thats hard with the mental illness and whatnot. ROTFL