Working the Room

Politics,Reading — Zac Townsend @ October 31, 2012 9:09 am

An essay in Lapham's Quarterly about politicians being or not being funny.

The paradox of democracy is that we elect someone on the basis of being just like us and then criticize them for not being better than us. To be elected as a political leader in a democracy is to occupy three positions relative to the other citizens: they must be better than us, for they must lead us; they must be less than us because they err greatly and publicly; and they must be one of us, a citizen among their peers. Comedy can be a way of coping with such conflicting roles; rhetorical humor is a tool to help master them.

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