One of the great mysteries of our time is why so few professionally funny people tend to be conservative. In searching for answers, you might want to survey what it is that conservatives find laughable. There’s Milo Yiannopoulos’s faux-ironic shock humor, Piers Morgan’s horrendous hackery, and of course the time when Donald Trump announced that, while he used to call CNN “Fake News,” he now calls it Very Fake News, which a legion of Twitter Eggs had a huge guffaw over. For a master’s thesis in how conservative humor can fall flat, however, one need look no further than the transcendently unfunny Twitter feed of Mike Huckabee.
Mike Huckabee is a former Arkansas governor, multi-time presidential candidate and ersatz host of the Fox News talk show, Huckabee, which amazingly does not bear an exclamation point at the end. He’s also the author of God, Guns, Grits and Gravy, a critical look at the all-time leading causes of death in the American South. See what just happened, just then? It was a joke. Not a great joke, by any means, but there was a set-up and a punchline and everything. Mike Huckabee probably wouldn’t like that joke, but he’s a big fan of the form itself–not just hearing jokes, but making them too. Huck got jokes, alright. He’s got so many of them. Mike Huckabee’s main job these days seems to consist of armchair open mic-ing the events of the day.
For instance, it was a particularly big afternoon for the man who was once in charge of governing the state of Arkansas, as he livetweeted the Gorsuch confirmation hearing like it was the Golden Globes.
Every day is a day for topical jokes, though, when you’re former presidential candidate and least funny person on Twitter, Mike Huckabee.
It wouldn’t be so excruciating to read Huck’s Twitter if it were merely filled with hacky dad jokes about the Super Bowl and daylight saving time, which it is. It’s that his constant stabs at topical humor are coming from such a prominent person that they wind up in the overlapping echo chamber of both Media Twitter and Political Twitter. If you’ve spent time in either of those hallowed hellmouths, you know just how hard it is to stand out as being bad at making topical jokes. Huckabee always manages to make it look easy, though. Not only are his jokes unfunny, they’re almost aggressively antifunny.
It’s the smugness that’s galling. Also the reiteration of far right talking points, officious deference to the president, and animosity toward traditional joke structure. For better or worse, people actually listen to this man. His words carry weight. So it’s especially dispiriting that his terrible jokes also function as propaganda. He especially has a soft spot for reiterating how implausible it is that there is anything suspicious about either Russia or Trump’s many, many connections to Russia, despite massive, mounting evidence to the contrary. Our president is under investigation by the FBI… and that’s HILARIOUS.
Like many amateur comedians, his sense of humor often leads to offense. He’ll tweet using rap cadence, offending the sensibilities of anyone who has ever enjoyed even one Biggie bop. Or he’ll insult the memory of slain trans martyr, Brandon Teena, achieving the impossible by briefly making Zach Braff look cool and spurring Cameron Esposito to raise thousands in Teena’s honor with just one tweet.
Whether he deserves that kind of attack or not, one thing is for sure: Mike Huckabee is very bad at jokes. Of course, the worst part about his jokes, similar to Milo and other far-right funnymen is that when critics suggest they aren’t funny, they insist that those those critics just aren’t advanced enough as humans to get their jokes.
Trust us, Mr. Huckabee, your humor is not over our heads—it’s beneath our contempt. Well, almost beneath it.