If politics isn't a joking matter, why do so many pols crack wise? A defense of Stewart-Colbert rallies.

Media criticism.
Oct. 27 2010 6:44 PM

If Politics Isn't a Joking Matter, Why Do So Many Pols Crack Wise?

An oblique defense of Stewart-Colbert rallies on the Mall.

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Compared with the politicians' trespasses against humor, the comedians' sins are slight. Let the Stewart-Colbert show go on. Unless, of course, the pols promise to give up comedy.

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Landon Parvin, joke maker to the Republicans, is famous for saying that the purpose of all that political joke-telling is to make the politician "better liked when he sits down than when he first stood up." I can think of no better reason for a constitutional amendment against political humor by politicians. Send your amendments to slate.pressbox@gmail.com. My Twitter feed is joke-free. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Track my errors: This hand-built RSS feed will ring every time Slate runs a "Press Box" correction. For e-mail notification of errors in this specific column, type the word jokes in the subject head of an e-mail message, and send it to slate.pressbox@gmail.com.

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Correction, Oct. 28, 2010: This article originally misspelled Barack Obama's first name. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.