The Failure of Right-Wing “Humor.”

Ty Unglebower
3 min readJan 25, 2022

Much is made about how Conservatives are not funny. And by and large, they aren’t.

Oh, people of like mind laugh at what passes as “a joke” to most on the Right, but that hardly classifies them as being truly funny.

The wherefore and why of the Right’s poorly received attempt at yuks is often, and rightly attributed to their tendency to not only punch down, but way down when it comes to their targets. Marginalized, or even oppressed people are the brunt of some of the most toxic vitriol one can devise within Conservative “Comedy” as we know it today. And though, as I said a certain common bitterness encourages something akin to laughter in the base of that social-political class, the offense it causes is more of the focus.

“Liberals, and gays, and black people can’t take a joke! Everything is cancel culture!” (Says someone who thinks dressing up a child in blackface and having them pick cotton for Halloween is “just a joke.”)

Punching down. It isn’t actually a joke. It’s frightened, hateful bitterness directed at minorities that are perceived as inferior yet threatening.

There isn’t much I can add to the concept. Much has been said about this punching-down-humor already. I wholeheartedly agree with the thesis.

Yet I would also add something to the mix if one wonders why Conservatives are not truly funny to most of a mainstream audience. (And no, it isn’t a liberal Hollywood conspiracy to censor actual comedians, even though the Right will claim that it is.)

No, in truth, it’s that the vast majority of people who are funny at least pay lip service to earning the laughs they get. This entails considering the time, the place, the impact, the target of their bit, whatever it is, from conception to execution. Potential reception and appreciation by an audience isn’t forgotten, even if someone’s material is still very much their own.

But entitlement is such a large part of the Right Wing psyche, it extends to their humor. It’s just like “free speech” to such people means that nothing they ever say, no matter how vile or incorrect should ever be responded to in public, because they “have the right” to do whatever and say whatever they want without consequences. It’s not about the government putting them in jail for their thoughts, no. It is about being able to say the nastiest of shit, and then complaining and crying about being “canceled” for it when others with just as much free speech call them out.

Freedom means no accountability to the Right. They feel entitled to absolute comfort to say and do anything they desire, no matter who it hurts. The rest of the world owes them silence in the face of their public hatred and mean-spiritedness. Otherwise they are being “canceled.”

Well, I submit that Right Wing “comedy” consists of people who feel they are entitled to laughs merely because they declared themselves a comedian. The fact that something they vomit out is labelled a “joke” means they expect people to see it as funny. Never mind there is an audience to win over. Never mind that they do what they do on YouTube where anybody unhappy with it is free to reply or replay it. Never mind that they simply may not be any damn good at what they do. They have no concept of earning the good faith of a potential audience. They are owed laughs because they said they are funny.

Entitlement. No consequence.

You have racists and masochists who thrive on pain, sure. But that never seems to be enough for the so-called comic performer in Right Wing Land. It’s never complete until they both cause people pain, and be loved for it, AND face no backlash, ever from any party. They feel entitled to tell whatever jokes they tell, and anybody who is not amused needs to be silent.

Call me crazy, but most normal people don’t like being made to feel like they owe someone laughs. “Up yours,” though effective with a narrow demographic is not embraced by most people who want to be entertained, believe it or not. It’s an even smaller pool of people who applaud stereotypes and bigotry against their own kind.

Even “edgy” comics have to answer at some point to this truth; the people’s reception make or break a performer. Those on the Right trying to be “funny” would be well off to just be satisfied with the overall smaller audience, and grow up and accept the controversy they cause. Nobody who complains about being called out is truly “edgy.” They’re just whiny.

And in the wrong line of work.

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Ty Unglebower

Freelance writer, sometime actor and introvert living and working in Frederick County, Maryland