I hear it all the time from fellow Jon Stewart fans: why does he always take such long vacation breaks? We are in the middle of one of Stewart and Stephen Colbert's seasonal sojourns, which can last as long as three weeks. Perhaps the two should align their time off with congressional recesses, so as to keep young people up to date on the political news of the day. For alternative sources of laughter, politically-minded young Americans have these entertainment options, many of which you may have already seen on your friends' Facebook feeds.
Who Is That Text From?
Political satire is alive and well online. For example, Texts from Hillary, a Tumblr site founded by Adam Smith and Stacy Lamb, was an immediate success last spring, seeing 83,000 shares on Facebook alone. Inspired by a photo of Hillary Clinton looking cool in sunglasses while using her Blackberry on Air Force One, the site riffed on who she was conversing with online, including fictional social media exchanges between Madame Secretary and Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin, and Meryl Streep. After Clinton herself submitted an entry to the site, signing herself "Hillz," Smith and Lamb wisely (but disappointingly) decided to quit while they were ahead.
A Million Years Old By Internet Standards
The Onion is a classic source of ridiculous headlines and stories that mimic the vapidity of political reporting. A couple recent examples include Romney Spends $600 Million on Top-Tier 'Soul Searching' Team and Obama: Second Term Will Be Like Breaking Bad Times Homeland Plus The Sopranos. But The Onion can also be surprisingly serious: in the wake of the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, the site managed to stay witty while expressing outrage, shock and profound sadness.
The Sincerest Form of Flattery
Political impersonations have long been popular expressions of satire. Saturday Night Live has made a habit of spoofing the White House's inhabitants ever since the 1970s, when Chevy Chase's absurdist, pratfall-filled take on Gerald Ford cemented the president's largely-undeserved reputation as a bumbler. Since then, Dan Aykroyd's Jimmy Carter, Phil Hartman's Ronald Reagan, Dana Carvey's George H. W. Bush, Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton and Will Ferrell's George W. Bush were so popular that it became wise for the presidents themselves to make a show of meeting and being a good sport about their doppelgangers. That was the thought process in 2008 behind then vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin appearing opposite Tina Fey's devastating portrayal of herself. More recently, current cast members Jay Pharaoh and Jason Sudeikis played Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to excellent effect during the recent campaign, and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers is always a reliable source for snarky political one-liners.
Finally, but perhaps most democratically, Twitter provides a humorous forum for journalists, politicians and comedians, as well as everyday citizens. The medium is a great opportunity for anyone to put out witty lines that give a joking spin to serious issues. On election night, when New York Times political blogger Nate Silver was proven correct in all his predictions, his tweet along the lines of I suppose I should put a link to my book at this point was a tongue-in-cheek bit of light gloating. Twitter parody accounts and hashtags provide even more, and often sharper-edged, satirical commentary. In the days following the election, the satirical account Drunk Nate Silver detailed how the suddenly famous statistician was celebrating his success, such as "Updating the Wikipedia page of the 8-year-old who will win the 2052 election."