Analyzing Jokes may not be all That Funny

Here’s a wonky contribution for the day, complete with boring statistics and a dry as dust quote from the president of the organization.

A new unfunny study by Center for Media and Public Affairs is out on late-night talk show hosts and who they tend to target. Jon Stewart and David Letterman tend toward Republicans and conservatives while Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon lean toward Dems and liberals (such as Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), pictured here, who we think might not find this study the least bit interesting). The study found that Stewart stood out for his Glenn Beck jokes, Leno by his Al Gore jokes, and Letterman by his jokes about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

CMPA President Robert Lichter concluded: “Just as conservatives get their political news from Fox and liberals from MSNBC, conservatives are getting their political humor from NBC and liberals from Comedy Central.”

To further bore you, CMPA explained how they reached their conclusions: For the period from January 1 to Labor Day (Sept 6) 2010, CMPA analyzed all jokes about public figures by John Stewart (“Daily Show”), Jay Leno (“Tonight Show”), Jimmy Fallon (“Latenight”), and David Letterman (“Late Show”) in the monologues and opening segments of their shows prior to their interviews with guests. Then we selected out the 1625 jokes directed at political partisans, including Democrats and Republicans as well as liberal and conservative commentators, such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow, and Keith Olbermann.

Sample jokes (actually funny) and “major statistical findings” (not funny and boring) after the jump…

Stewart: Glenn Beck and his magic erasable truth board.
This is a guy who uses more swastika props and video of the Nuremberg rallies than the History Channel. [Glenn Beck] Damn you, President [George W.] Bush, I can’t even comically debase you. It’s not fair.
The Kennedy legacy goes down to a naked guy who owns a truck. [Scott Brown]

Leno: The economy is so bad Al Gore had to give himself a massage.
This Gore divorce could prove to be expensive. Al Gore has begun to talk of saving only half of the planet.
Bill Clinton [said] his only involvement in Chelsea’s wedding is paying the bill. Since he’s a Democrat he doesn’t actually pay the bill himself, he leaves it for future generations of Americans.

Letterman: Iranian President Ahmedinejad is in town. So for one day Mayor Bloomberg is not the shortest dictator in New York. George W. Bush is writing a book….It’s all part of his war on literacy.
Sarah Palin made her debut as a Fox News analyst. They finally found a job that she’s not under-qualified for.

More from CMPA (if you’ve read this far you might as well finish to the bitter end): Jon Stewart and David Letterman both aimed nearly three out of five partisan jokes at Republicans and conservatives, while Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon aimed at least two out of three jokes at Democrats and liberals. Specifically, Stewart aimed 59% and Letterman 58% of their jokes at GOP/conservatives, while Jay Leno aimed 67% at Dem/liberal targets, and Fallon devoted 78% of his jokes toward Dem/liberals. (Fallon told fewer partisan jokes than the others.)

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