Monday, August 23, 2010

I Was Wrong About This Guy

A long time ago I gave Dennis Miller a hard time. I still believe that the "Just For Men" thing in the beard was bad and made him look like a Saudi royal walking through a flowerbed holding hands with George W. Bush, but I have adjusted my views on his talents. I thought of Miller in the same way you think of a washed-up rock act that turns to country music because it's easy money; kind of like what Skynyrd is doing hanging around with Hannity. I thought, "Oh, failed comedian turns to the right wing for an audience that will lap up some easy jokes and give him a paycheck."

He didn't work out on Monday Night Football, where his obscure cultural references and intellectually-tinged asides were lost on his co-hosts and most of the audience. He didn't work out in his own late-night TV talk show. So it seemed like Dennis was grabbing for whatever he could when he showed up as a right-leaning talk-radio host.

But I've been listening to him every day during "exercise time" on the Blowflex out in the garage, and the guy - as he himself might say - "has some chops." He still has that funny habit of referring to men as "cats" and addressing women as "doll-face," but those idiosyncrasies are as endearing as they are goofy and they're part of the Miller shtick. What makes his show unique is that he (for the most part) refuses to tow the party line. He still comes from a conservative POV and is as critical as any pundit on the right of the administration and its allies in Congress, but he won't do the knee-jerk thing, and more importantly, he doesn't stoop to the demonizing rhetoric so popular among his right-side cohorts like Hannity, Crowley, Levin, Ingraham, Savage, Beck, Bortz or Limbaugh. I think that's because he's smarter than them and can actually think through an issue or the daily talking point issued by the spin firm of Gingrich, Rove & Associates. What's more, he hasn't lost the cutting-edge humor that made him popular years ago on SNL. He's almost like a Jon Stewart for the right, where politics and entertainment meet at that great intersection called comedy. 

There need to be more Dennis Millers. He can make you think, and he will engage someone with an opposing viewpoint without calling them names or labeling them insane. It's a shame his show isn't more popular. It sure should be.

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  • Totally with you there. I think he had his own show on CNBC a decade or so ago. I thought it was good, probably too good. He isn't afraid to admit when he's wrong, nor is he afraid to apply common sense and logic to prickly issues. He's obviously sincere and authentic, and that's always a viewpoint I want to hear.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 23, 2010 at 1:11 PM  

  • Was Denis always such a right winger? I remember him as a more liberal comedian. I lived in France for a while, and when I cam back he seemed to have jumped right. I agree with your thought that he did it for the (easy) audience. I might give him a try again, just to check in.

    By Blogger Joe Murray, at August 23, 2010 at 2:34 PM  

  • He commented the other day that he has been liberal at times and he has been conservative and that he's not very "pinnable" by either label.

    Even if you disagree with his politics, and I usually do, the point is he can make his side's arguments without pissing you off - and usually making you laugh - much like Stewart.

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at August 23, 2010 at 3:08 PM  

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