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Late Night Hosts Lay Off Obama

12:03 PM, Jul 15, 2008 • By JAIME SNEIDER
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So the late night hosts are laying off Obama ...

There is no comedic "take" on him, nothing easy to turn to for an easy laugh, like allegations of Bill Clinton's womanizing, or President Bush's goofy bumbling or Al Gore's robotic persona.

"The thing is, he's not buffoonish in any way," said Mike Barry, who started writing political jokes for Johnny Carson's monologues in the waning days of the Johnson administration and has lambasted every presidential candidate since, most recently for Mr. Letterman. "He's not a comical figure," Mr. Barry said.

"A lot of people are excited about his candidacy," Mr. Sweeney said. "It's almost like: ‘Hey, don't go after this guy. He's a fresh face; cut him some slack.' "

Justin Stangel, who is a head writer for "Late Show With David Letterman," disputed that, saying, "We always have to make jokes about everybody. We're not trying to lay off the new guy."

But Mr. Barry said, "I think some of us were maybe too quick to caricature Al Gore and John Kerry and there's maybe some reluctance to do the same thing to him."

The notion that Obama hasn't provided sufficient fodder -- have they forgotten the campaign seal, his love of Honest Tea, his passed out Body Man -- for comedy writers is laughable. More laughable than their programming, in fact. If they need some help, they should call up Rob Long at National Review. But to say there is no joke in Obama talking about the price of arugula at Whole Foods in a speech in Iowa -- a state that doesn't even have a single Whole Foods -- is a ridiculous lie. They may think it's good politics, but it's certainly not good comedy.