As we suspect in other cities, Philadelphia comedians, for the most part, have not talked about the Bush administration on stage for a while now. For some, with the gradual decrease in popularity of President Bush (especially in this city), the subject just may be "too easy". For others, perhaps the results of the war and the economy are too depressing to even make fun of. Occasionally an open miker will discuss their unemployment because of the economy, but this rarely leads to big laughs.
But race is always a topic of discussion on the mic and in Philadelphia the viewpoints can be varied, complicated and not quite stereotypical. There's no doubt that race will continue to be brought up on stage, but as Tracy Morgan recently said on white comics making fun of Obama: "If you go down that road, you better be funny."
Ultimately, it's too early to tell. It's impossible to predict how comedians will react to the Barack Obama presidency, because, as Obama has been clear in stressing, that presidency hasn't begun yet. But perhaps the bigger question is, will stand-up (and to a point, sketch) comedians talk about politics? Will politically-conscious (for now?) audiences clamor for such material? Or will such opinions be better of left at home?
Certainly there will be other mediums for such humor: 1812 Productions' This Is The Week That Is is an excellent example and the late-night Comedy Central shows will talk about it daily. But what about on stage, live in comedy club in Philadelphia? Doesn't politics offer a tension-release that is perfect for comedy? Or does nothing change at all post-Bush?
Or, perhaps, the change is one of style? Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama has shown that he has a dry sense of humor. Witness this highlight from his first press conference as President-Elect:
Obama's discussion of the new puppy is self-effacing and conscious of the absurdity of such a subject. And it's funny. The way that Obama delivers it all is emblematic of his campaign: poised and confident without seeming to try hard. Trusting that the words on their own will ring true and correct. Exuding a presence without forcing it down the audiences' throat. Are more subdued, dry one-liners in our future? And (taking it to an absurd degree), is this not a dramatic change from President Bush's style of smiling and leaning into the microphone to signal that he is telling a joke?
Or are we just completely crazy? Feel free to comment below.