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Comedian or politician? “It’s complicated” with Al Franken (Free Republic mentioned/quoted)
The Mac Weekly ^ | October 13, 2006 | Alex Park

Posted on 10/14/2006 2:43:57 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger

Speaking with Al Franken, one gets the impression that he likes to laugh at you. No, not in a really out loud kind of way (at least most of the time), but in a more subtle version of the kind of way he talks about his rivals, GOP candidates and anyone else inside the Beltway who doesn’t vote Blue. It’s the kind of laugh that gets under your skin, as if he likes to have you annoyed with yourself.

“Are you still considering running for the Senate,” I asked, meeting him at the end of the stage in Kagin Commons following his closing speech at the Democratic rally.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Is that official now?”

“You asked me a question, which was ‘are you considering running for the senate?’ and I said ‘yes,’” he said, laughing hysterically. “It’s official that I’m considering it.”

February 2006 marked the beginning of The Mac Weekly’s on-again off-again fling with Al Franken—an incident, which, in its own right, serves to demonstrate both the uniqueness of his style and one reason why some have trouble taking the comedian-turned-politician seriously.

Following a speech in Minneapolis, Franken sat down to an interview with then Managing Editor Matt Stone. On the table were several topics, including the role of money within the Democratic Party, an issue brought to light by the Abramoff scandal, which was at its height at the time of the interview.

The interview was a bomb. Franken maintained staunch support for all Democrats, citing evidence that came off as suspect at first and turned out to be completely wrong by the time the interview was published. They weren’t all “lying lies,” to borrow a phrase from his first book, but at the very least it came off as incompetence on Franken’s part.

The Right-Wing Blogosphere had a field day.

“Franken Takes on Interviewer, Lacks Facts,” read a headline the following day on radio pundit Brian Maloney’s blog, Radio Equalizer; (and you thought no one but you reads The Mac Weekly). Maloney and others praised Stone for exhibiting the kind of journalistic integrity not seen in print media for years, standing in shear defiance of the perverted incursions of the “nasty bear” himself.

“I just think it's amusing that Franken didn't know what anybody who reads the news does,” one of the 21 comments on the Radio Equalizer piece read. Claiming to be a Mac alumnus, another commentator on the ultra-conservative blog, Free Republic said “I'm sure the school's liberal reputation is what made [Franken] agree to do the interview in the first place, and then he was shocked when they had real questions for him ...”

Currently, Franken is at the height of his political celebrity. With three books to his name, all of them bestsellers, and a documentary titled God Spoke, about his transition into politics, Franken has demonstrated that he knows very well how to work the liberal end of the gray zone between politics and entertainment while even making serious, often successful, ventures into straight politics.

Last fall saw the launch of Franken’s Midwest Values PAC, a formidable fund raising organization that caters exclusively to Minnesota Democrats in tight races.

Norm Coleman, the GOP senator whom Franken may challenge in 2008, has complained that the PAC’s source of revenue so far has come from celebrities Franken knew through his previous line of work.

“Hollywood values aren't Midwest,” Coleman said in a recent interview with the Star Tribune, “and the money isn't Midwest.”

But money talks, and whether it be Hollywood, Minnesota or Washington, the language is universal. With no prior fundraising experience on Franken’s part, MVP has already funneled more than $800,000 to candidates, easily making it one of the top five PAC’s in the state.

If Franken does choose to run for Senate, legally he will not be able to use funds from Midwest Values. But Democrats who benefit from his help this term will probably be willing to return the favor anyway.

“The fact that I’m not an office holder or candidate made it sort of like we were going into uncharted waters for the PAC,” Franken said. “But we’ve done incredibly well.”

But even after his recent ventures into straight politics, Franken has remained true to his comedic roots. Sunday’s appearance showed him comfortably in range of both roles of sarcastic pundit and political actor. Wearing a blue blazer and blue jeans, he talked seriously about removing Republicans from office, but loaded his speech with jokes about Rush Limbaugh’s pills and Sean Hannity’s ego just the same.

He ridiculed GOP congressmen for their choice of words as much as he criticized them for their legislative agendas, playing the issues like a xylophone, tapping one and then other, lightly, but just enough to make them sing.

Of gay marriage he relayed an anecdote about a conversation with Newt Gingrich. “I said Newt, wouldn’t you want a gay couple to have the same kind of happiness that you had with your first wife?”

On the topic of religion in politics, he said that if you take out all the parts in the bible about helping other people, “you’ll have a box just big enough to fit Rush Limbaugh’s drugs.”

So far, it’s a strategy that keeps things running with a foot safely in both worlds of entertainment and politics. It’s not too jocular, but not too serious, either. It even gets the audience to laugh a little. Nonetheless, with a still looming 2008 Senate bid and a few other big-name projects to his name, “real questions” (and real backlash) are the sort of thing Franken may be getting a lot more of.

Right now, Franken is still in charge of the nationally syndicated Air America Radio network. Barely two years old, the network, which was troubled with financial woes from its inception, is said to be in decline with rumors about the network’s inevitable bankruptcy circulating.

Nonetheless, if Franken has his way, he will probably trade the radio job for a Senate seat, anyway.

The tagline for God Spoke is “Taking America back one laugh at a time,” which almost suits its preview throughout. That is, until the end, when the music cuts, Franken drops his grin for a second and we witness him announce to an audience of a few hundred people that he’s considering a 2008 Senate run against Minnesota’s Norm Coleman.

Immediately after, a clip shows Franken suggesting that if he opts to run, he “would be the only New York Jew in the race who grew up in Minnesota.”

On Sunday I asked nonchalantly if that meant he considered himself a New York Jew as well as a Minnesotan. “That was a joke,” he said, laughing hysterically once more.

Looking back, it would have been reasonable to assume that beforehand. But if Al Franken is going to save America, it’s also fair to ask for help, or at least directions, in making the grey zone between politics and entertainment he’s mapped out for himself more defined for potential supporters in the voting population. After all, can the Senate be taken the same way he’s chosen to save America until now, one laugh at a time?


TOPICS: Free Republic; Miscellaneous; Politics/Elections; US: Minnesota
KEYWORDS: alf; alfranken; chapter11; franken; unsecuredcreditor
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Wow, that's nuts. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I didn't just "claim" to be a Macalester alum, I am, and I have the diploma to prove it! The columnist may not want to admit that a conservative does attend every so often, but we do. I was actually a bit of lib when I got there, more of a moderate I guess, but the left-wing extremism and stupidity drove me to being more conservative.
61 posted on 10/15/2006 7:29:06 AM PDT by MinnesotaLibertarian
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Franken's idea of "comedy" has always escaped me- never found him to be funny. I DID laugh when I heard he was taking up political comentary and in THAT he ALWAYS makes me laugh. What he actually knows about politics is a mystery to ANYONE with half a brain. I still laugh when I walk past a WalMart sale table and see his STACKS of books there....


62 posted on 10/15/2006 7:32:39 AM PDT by 13Sisters76 ("It is amazing how many people mistake a certain hip snideness for sophistication. " Thos. Sowell)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Resume article in order to build presence for him to move on to new job.

This is about helping Al find a new job.


63 posted on 10/15/2006 7:38:17 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: Valin
Every night as he goes to bed Norm Coleman says a little prayer "Please Please Please let it be Al Franken for the DFL."

...or Walter Mondale?

64 posted on 10/15/2006 7:53:35 AM PDT by justiceseeker93
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To: DaveLoneRanger

No he is just a clown.


65 posted on 10/15/2006 7:56:30 AM PDT by mad_as_he$$ (Never corner anything meaner than you. NSDQ)
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To: martin_fierro

Wonder how teed off Franken may be about being stiffed by Air America.


66 posted on 10/15/2006 7:56:31 AM PDT by justiceseeker93
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Al Franken.

There's nothing more pathetically annoying than someone who thinks they're funny when they're not.

67 posted on 10/15/2006 7:57:46 AM PDT by Psycho_Bunny
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To: justiceseeker93

He's yesterdays news.


68 posted on 10/15/2006 8:18:32 AM PDT by Valin (http://www.irey.com/)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Since SNL sucked under Franken's strong presence in 1979-1982 and Air America failed under his leadership for the same reasons, I'd say he is not a good comedian, not a good writer, and he is certainly a political retard.

Hope this is not the sum total of his life's work.


69 posted on 10/15/2006 11:01:10 AM PDT by sully777 (You have flies in your eyes--Catch-22)
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To: sully777
I'm a professional comedy writer myself (I do a daily topical humor service for radio and have written two books), and I'm old enough that I've watched SNL since the debut show, which I remember watching in high school. I also remember that it was so exciting to watch it back then that the Franken & Davis segments were the only times I'd run to the bathroom or kitchen without fear of missing anything funny.

From what I've heard and read, Franken didn't have much choice but to become the official DNC court jester. Check out Jay Mohr's book about his time on SNL in the late '80s. It depicts Franken as a nasty egomaniac who insisted on rewriting all the younger staffers' sketches because only he knew how to make something funny. He was also very bitter that all his earlier castmates had gone on to stardom while he was still just a writer/featured player, not even good enough after 15 years to become a "Not Ready for Prime Time Player." There's a great scene in which Rob Schneider advises Mohr not to let Franken do a part in any sketch he writes because he'll ruin it with his constipated unfunniness.

What saved Franken was the election of Clinton and the discovery that rich Democrats would pay big bucks for an after-dinner speaker who was semi-famous, even if his "jokes" weren't very funny. All he had to do was slam Republicans and reinforce their preconceived notions. And by sucking up to the liberal media machine, he at last enjoyed the applause, "stardom" and wealth that his level of talent could never have achieved for him.

So is he a politician or a comedian? Well, as far as politics, he's more of a wannabe or a suck-up. And since comedians are supposed to make people laugh, he's certainly not the latter (I make a game of reading his books whenever they come out, to see how far I have to get into them before I find something I can even identify as a line that's supposed to be funny. With one, I made it all the way to chapter two. The line wasn't funny, but I think it was supposed to be, so I gave myself a break and stopped reading there.)

70 posted on 10/15/2006 4:44:45 PM PDT by HHFi
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Well if FR is to be characterized as "ultra-conservative" (the usual tactic of leftie journalists to say "beware, don't take them seriously, folks") then surely people like Al Frankenstein should always be described in the MSM as "ultra-left".... in fact I'm waiting for the day when journalists will feel ethically bound to refer to all the liberal and socialist twits they bow to every day as "the ultra-leftist Dan Blather" and "the far-left crusader for killing babies Nancy Pelosi" or how about "the angry leftist loon Howie Dean"..... now THAT would be some journalistic balance and accuracy!

Claiming to be a Mac alumnus, another commentator on the ultra-conservative blog, Free Republic said “I'm sure the school's liberal reputation is what made [Franken] agree to do the interview in the first place, and then he was shocked when they had real questions for him ...”
71 posted on 10/15/2006 6:07:11 PM PDT by Enchante (There are 3 kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and the Drive-By Media)
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To: DaveLoneRanger; All

The greater question should be: what is the diference between Al Franken, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and
finally Kieth Olbermann ? ?

They all begin to sound the same to me .

It is amazing what Olbermann and Stewart have gotten away with . .


72 posted on 10/16/2006 4:28:16 AM PDT by marc costanzo
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To: DaveLoneRanger
“You asked me a question, which was ‘are you considering running for the senate?’ and I said ‘yes,’” he said, laughing hysterically. “It’s official that I’m considering it.”

It doesn't take much to amuse Al.

73 posted on 10/16/2006 7:41:52 PM PDT by pcottraux (It's pronounced "P. Coe-troe.")
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Franken is the only person alive who laughs hysterically at anything he says or writes. How he has been considered a 'comedian' for all these years, or that he is even still employed as one, is beyond me.


74 posted on 10/16/2006 7:53:00 PM PDT by CaptRon (Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead)
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To: Man50D

Franken is no comedian and less of a politican


75 posted on 10/16/2006 10:13:42 PM PDT by bybybill (`IF TH E RATS WIN, WE LOSE)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Comedian or politician? “It’s complicated”

As Will Rogers once said, "And the thing about my jokes is, they don't hurt anybody. ... But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it's a law. And every time they make a law, it's a joke!

Al Franken, you're no Will Rogers, that's for sure.

76 posted on 10/19/2006 9:27:46 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: marc costanzo

Flipping past Olbermann's show tonight, I noticed he was introing a segment about Rush Limbaugh's comments on the Micheal J. Fox ad. I thought to myself, "This guy's going to act like some great moral muckity-muck for the next five minutes, but he's a firm supporter ofpeople who kill babies for a living." What a genius.


77 posted on 10/25/2006 9:56:21 PM PDT by Mr. Silverback (People who say there are jobs Americans won't do haven't seen "Dirty Jobs.")
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