If President Donald Trump is comedy gold for political satirists, Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is at least silver or bronze.
The brash Democrat plays fast and loose with the truth, has a skin as thin as a certain commander-in-chief and crowed that shes “the boss” mere weeks into the job. And lets not forget about the cow fart ban in her initial Green New Deal draft.
This week alone, she accused the CEO of Wells Fargo of imprisoning Mexican children.
So wheres the ribbing—good-natured or otherwise?
Late night hosts, who feast on political gaffes, mostly ignore her. “Saturday Night Live” featured her in small roles in two recent skits. The first proved brief and kind, while the second cast her, via cast member Melissa Villaseñor, as part of a progressive “Charlies Angels” group.
U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks about the first few months of her tenure in congress with Briahna Gray at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festivals in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Comedian Dave Landau, co-host of “The Anthony Cumia Show” on Compound Media, noticed the lack of Ocasio-Cortez jokes, too.
“[Comedians] have held their fire completely,” says Landau, a left-leaning stand-up whose routine serves up apolitical gags. “Theres been very little joking, even gentle teasing, towards her.”
Its not for lack of comedic options, though.
“Theres a lot people could joke about her thats not even political, from crazy ex-girlfriend eyes to the fact that she has the millennial symptom of saying like every four words,” Landau says.
Satirists typically pounce when someone hits the cultural radar as hard as Ocasio-Cortez has. Landau suggests other factors are keeping comics from letting loose.
“I think the #MeToo and feminism movements, mixed with the PC culture, has caused comics to be afraid. They only want to bash Trump because its not going to get much backlash from the vocal majority,” he says. “Its very safe.”
He recalls a fellow comics getting grief for mocking ex-porn star Stormy Daniels new stand-up comedy gig. Social media users slammed him as “misogynist” for defending “the art of stand up” against a neophyte.
“If people attack him for saying that, then what might they say to someone else for bashing a woman whos actually so successful that shes made her way to Congress?” he asks. “I think comics dont want to deal with the all the [bleep] that comes with a joke these days, and its sad.”
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) questions Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump, as he testifies before a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Right-leaning stand-up Michael Loftus, part of The Deplorables comedy tour, says politics plays a large role in the lack of Ocasio-Cortez humor.
“Theyre rooting for her. They want her to succeed. You dont make fun of someone whos on your team,” Loftus says. Todays late-night landscape leans heavily to the left, as does “SNL,” despite the shows rich bipartisan history.
For comparisons sake, comics happily shredded former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican, the minute she hit the national stage. Tina Feys Palin sketches proved some of the most memorable “SNL” moments.
“They had no problem tearing [Palin] down because it was in their best interests,” says Loftus, who teases Ocasio-Cortez during his current Deplorables tour.
Loftus misses the days when an “SNL” mainstay like Phil Hartman could cut across the comedy grain. He recalled a Hartman sketch featuring former President Ronald Reagan as a secret genius, rebutting the amiable dunce narrative surrounding the two-term president.
A similar sketch would never appear now, he says. The iconic show “stars liberals, is written by liberals and produced by liberals. They dont make fun of their own,” he says.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 24: Tina Fey attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
Progressive stand-up Nariko Ott suggests another reason for the lack of Ocasio-Cortez routines: Her key initiatives leave little room for laughs.
“Her positions on things arent comedic,” Ott says, adding the fury over her Green New Deal proposal came courtesy of a “disinformation campaign” fueled by the Koch brothers.
The comedy zeitgeist surrounding Trump is about more than just his mannerisms, Ott says.
“When people are making fun of Trump, … what theyre actually doing is bringing up [his] ideas … and taking them down,” Ott says.
Veteran satirist Will Durst says Ocasio-Cortezs “measured, youthful exuberance” makes this “very smart” politician tougher to nail down for many comics.
“The advantage with Sarah Palin was she was such a cartoon … all you had to doRead More