June 2, 2010


Tina Fey Isn't Funny (Aaron Goldstein, 6.2.10, American Prospect)

When Fey receives the prize in November, a week removed from the midterm elections, the ceremony will turn into little more than yet another opportunity for the so-called sophisticates from D.C., New York and Hollywood to pillory Palin. If not for the former Alaska Governor, would Fey have been honored this year? In which case, it would merely confirm that Fey is being honored for all the wrong reasons.

Now some might argue that I am merely objecting to Fey's liberal politics. That is hardly the case. Robin Williams is as liberal as they come. Over the years, he has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party. But whatever his politics it would be foolhardy to deny his comedic genius. If Williams's contributions to American humor aren't unique, it would be impossible to imagine someone fitting of the word. The Kennedy Center, however, has yet to honor Williams. Can anyone honestly tell me that Tina Fey is more deserving of the Mark Twain Prize than Robin Williams?

Others still might argue that there's more to Fey than Sarah Palin. They might point to her being the first female head writer at Saturday Night Live. They might also point to her success as the star and executive producer of the NBC show 30 Rock, which is loosely based on her experiences at SNL.

Well, being the first female head writer at SNL is all well and good but it doesn't amount to a pinch of salt if the show isn't funny. Admittedly, I haven't watched the show nearly as much as I did in the 1980s and the early 1990s (not to mention the reruns from the 1970s). But there's the Catch-22. Why would I watch a comedy show week after week if it doesn't make me laugh? Why would I watch a comedy show if I cannot find amusement in it? Why would I watch a comedy show if it can scarcely make me crack a smile? Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said of Fey, "Like Mark Twain, Tina Fey offers her brilliance unconditionally." Yet when I watch Fey I have to ask myself, what is the brilliance of which Rubenstein speaks?

I did watch part of Fey's recent turn as SNL host back in April. Oy Fey!!! Sorry, her skit with Justin Bieber gave me the creeps. Perhaps some people find the sight of a middle-aged woman fantasizing about a barely adolescent boy funny, but I sat on the couch stone-faced. I had to flip the channel by the end of the first half hour.

As for 30 Rock, outside of Alec Baldwin, isn't it little more than a pale version of The Larry Sanders Show? Yet I haven't seen The Kennedy Center place a call to Garry Shandling.

...would think that Ms Fey is liberal. The show allows her to make fun of everything she's supposed to believe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 2, 2010 6:00 AM
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