I was on Twitter recently and I noticed that Dennis Miller was trending. I remembered him from when he had a series on HBO. He would go off on his little rants about current events that grinded his gears. He could be funny at times. Then he got canceled and seemingly vanished off the face. I never read anything about him dying so I just assumed he faded to complete irrelevance in the entertainment world. It happens to a lot of performers. Isn’t funny sometimes when you see a news clip about some old celebrity dying and you’re thinking, “Wow, I thought they were already dead.”
Well, it turns out that Dennis Miller is still alive and apparently many even have a couple dozen or so fans left. I don’t even remember what the topic was. It was no doubt some political issue. Dennis Miller was able to stand out due to taking conservative positions on most issues. It can be an advantage to be different. It’s easier to stand out and attract attention to yourself.
What I remember most about Miller was the rants. I think I may have even forked out 4 bucks to buy a hardback copy of his book in a clearance sale. The rants were largely a masturbatory exercise. He would go off on his topic complete with obscure references and peppered with archaic words or words with more than 3 syllables. I guess he needed to make sure we all knew he was smarter than us. He could be quite clever and funny at times. But I always came away with the impression that he had an inordinate proclivity towards jacking off. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with jacking off but most of us have the decency to do it in the privacy of our own bathroom. It’s a little awkward for everyone involved when you do it in a crowded room.
Being a conservative comic in the age of trump can’t be easy. You ‘re trying to be an intellectual for an audience that struggles with spelling basic words on protest signs and other than Kentuckians think Frankfort is the capital of Germany. He’s similar to Bill Maher in that he’s really a smarmy douchebag. Bill Maher has been able to succeed by being able to connect with audiences on a visceral level. Even when he pisses people off, they usually go back. Bill Maher is equally guilty of thinking he’s smarter than everyone else but he at least knows when to tell a joke. You don’t always have to find some obscure, barely relevant reference to be funny. Sometimes what’s right in front of your face is funny enough.
There is something to be said for directness. If I want you to turn left I should probably just tell you to turn left. If I spend 30 minutes trying to find the Amharic word for left and pronounce with the accent of a Mongolian warrior from the 14th century, we may end up missing our exit and ending up in Virginia. I’m sure Miller views Maher’s success as a liberal conspiracy. In all likelihood, it just comes down to a more direct comic speaking directly to an audience is funnier and more entertaining.