The joke is on Mitt Romney, according to a survey of monologues by late-night comedians, and not in a good way. The study found that the Republican presidential nominee has been the butt of TV’s top funny-men more than twice as often as President Obama.
The monologues of the top nighttime talk shows have targeted Romney 148 times since the political party conventions this summer, compared with 62 jokes aimed at Obama, said the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.
“Romney is leading in the humor race,” said Robert Lichter, president of the media research organization, “but being the biggest joke is a race nobody wants to win.”
From Aug. 27 to Oct. 3, the group cataloged jokes about public figures told by Jay Leno on the “Tonight Show,” David Letterman on the “Late Show,” Craig Ferguson on the “Late Late Show” and Jimmy Fallon on “Late Night.”
Letterman’s routines tilted most heavily toward Romney barbs. He told 44 jokes about Romney and nine about Obama. But all four of the comedians told more Romney jokes.
Comedians said during and after the 2008 presidential race that they found Obama a difficult figure to caricature. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd found a way, though -- she pegged him as a bloodless technocrat, not unlike Star Trek’s Spock.
In 2008, Obama was only the fourth most popular object of late-night TV monologues, the media group found. Leading the way were Republican nominee John McCain (658 jokes), his running mate Sarah Palin (566), exiting President George W. Bush (244). The comedians told 243 jokes about Obama in that campaign.