Thursday, May 29, 2014

Two degrees of Al Franken

I realized that Al Franken's son Joe is on Linked In, so I requested to connect to him and he accepted! Weee I am two degrees of Al Franken! Not that I ever expect to actually meet Joe, let alone Al, but I just like the concept.

I've blogged about Franken here many times - he was a huge influence on my early teen years via Saturday Night Live which I loved when it first aired. It took me years to realize how much Franken's political input shaped SNL in the early days. And it became a much less political, and less funny after Franken left.

What really made me appreciate Franken was the way he went after Rush Limbaugh. His best-seller "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" was published in 1996, almost twenty years ago.

Thanks to the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, getting laughs at the expense of the right-wing media seems perfectly unremarkable, but it was Franken who did it first. The extreme right didn't really dominate broadcast media until the Fairness Doctrine was struck down in 1987, so cable and radio talk shows were pretty tame politically, before then. It didn't take long for the right to take full advantage of the end of government-mandated reasonability. And once they started to fill the airwaves with Republican talking points and hate, comedians like Franken were among the first to take note. I like to think of comedians as an early-warning system against extremism.

To this day, the only book that had an index that could make me laugh aloud is Franken's Limbaugh book (see excerpt of below.) He's a genius. I have an autographed copy of the book, which I got from attending a personal appearance by Franken in Cherry Hill NJ not long after it was published.

And in case you are wondering what Franken's Bacon number is, it's 2.