Monday, February 09, 2004

Citizen Arcane now Citizen Cohn

Slate and Salon have both had recent articles detailing how Dennis Miller's new eponymous talk show has been affected by the political conversion experienced in the wake of September 11th. To bring you up to speed, he's now a political conservative. We saw the roots of this way back when he supported Ross Perot in his presidental bid, but now he goes out of his way to mention that he plans to vote for George W. Bush, a man (Miller doesn't add) that he would have absolutely excoriated in his younger, more amusing days.

Moreover, he's apparently not just a conservative now, but a mindless right-wing automaton. Says Dennis Cass at Slate, "... it's as if in the process of switching sides, Miller has taken 20 years of conservative ideology and swallowed it rote and whole." Heather Havrilesky at Salon adds, "According to Miller's logic, we may have been open-minded, even-handed folks on the 10th of September, but on the morning of the 11th, we all earned the right to surrender to our least enlightened selves, to fall prey to our worst impulses, to vent enough spleen with such righteous outrage that it almost matches the fury of our fundamentalist oppressors."

What makes Miller's new ideology a real shame though, is that there haven't been any funny conservatives to date (sit back down, P.J. O'Rourke -- I know who you are, and I don't care), and Miller apparently isn't going to be the first one. The new show has reportedly been weak so far, with Miller relying more on the novelty of having a chimpanzee on his desk and on schoolyard namecalling rather than his trademark barrage of arcane pop-culture references. The result is barely more than the odd awkward chuckle trickling back from the audience.

It's a shame. Dennis, if you're not going to be thoughtful, at least be funny. And if you just don't have what it takes anymore, I'm here to help you. Here's a guide I wrote years ago on how to write a Dennis Miller comedy routine without even trying. And it's becoming obvious that you're not trying anymore. Don't worry. By just following the guidelines, anyone ought to be able to cobble together a pastiche of your old funny style -- even the chimp on your desk. Surely you can still do it.


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