I saw Margaret Cho doing stand-up at the Warner Theater last night before making my way to an aptly-named “Scantily Clad” party. She was generally pretty funny, but there was one aspect of the act I found sort of befuddling. At numerous points, she’d just throw out some policy position—”The death penalty is wrong”; “Why shouldn’t gay people be allowed to get married?”—which invariably set off a round of applause and loud cheers. Well, I agree with those sentiments, and with the others she expressed that I can remember. But, like, so what? I’m sure there’s some pseudo-sociological take on how this is about affirming group solidarity, but gosh it gets a bit tiresome. It bled into some of the actual jokes as well: Lots of pretty easy, cliched slams at Bush got laughter and applause that can’t possibly still be funny, even if they were when first uttered. As with the serially unfunny right-slanted Day by Day comic, it seems as though the appeal is just that it’s ideologically congenial. But why does that make it funny?
On a related note: Why do people think there’s some kind of irony or paradox in the observation that pro-lifers when it comes to abortion are often pro–death penalty? (FWIW, I’m both pro-choice and anti–death penalty.) Cho did manage to make this old saw sort of amusing, concluding that “what this tells us is: They like to procrastinate.” But it’s scarcely a weird combination of views to think that a small innocent person (if that’s what you think a fetus is) ought not be killed, while maybe a multiple murderer should be. Again, I’m with Cho on the policy question, but if we’re going to deal in shallow charges of inconsistency, the “paradox” claim running the other way seems at least superficially more plausible.