"There's Always A Grain Of Truth"

by Conor Friedersdorf

Interesting Rush Limbaugh monologue here:

I love mother-in-law bashing. It's a stereotypical form of humor that I have always enjoyed.  I find as I grow older that fewer and fewer people like stereotypical humor.  It offends them.  They don't really like it.  But I do.  I just (laughing) In the stereotypes of relationships, stereotypes of in-laws, stereotypes of kids, stereotypes of whatever, I love the jokes.  Because there's always a grain of truth in it.  Always a grain of truth. (interruption) Now, my in-laws are cool, I have to tell you...  If I told a joke or made a funny comment, stereotypical comment about my in-laws, it would be a joke, not because they're really that way. 

...I'll give you an example.  I mean, just off the top of my head.  I can't remember how this joke actually goes. Mixed emotions: You see your brand-new Mercedes driving off the side of the cliff; your mother-in-law is driving.  Okay?  Mixed emotions.  Now, I would never want to see my mother-in-law drive off a cliff in any car, hers or mine, but it's a funny joke.  But I don't tell it because it relates to me personally. I just think it's funny, and I am not gonna back down from my sense of humor. I'm not gonna make people make me back down from my sense of humor.  Too many people are forced to back down from who they are.  I mean, the inner Limbaugh is on display here each and every day.  Those people who think that I'm hiding something? Ha!  You don't know the half of it. 

It might interest the talk radio host to know that it isn't stereotypical humor per se that offends his critics, so much as the fact that the particular stereotypes he invokes are used for the sake of provocation as much as humor, and so frequently offered at the expense of liberals, blacks and women that he isn't able to claim that saving grace of comedians: being known as an equal opportunity offender. Perhaps he could bolster his reputation by doing a monologue about the grains of truth in negative stereotypes about white people, Christians, men, Republicans, Southerners, talk radio hosts, and conservatives.

I wonder if his audience would appreciate his sense of humor as keenly were it directed at those targets. Or if maybe there's something more than a desire for jocular observations keeping them tuned into the show.