Satire gets sidelined as Dennis Miller's show has an identity crisis
Miller's jokes have always been as snappy and spontaneous as a valedictory speech, but they now require a five-minute explanation: His withering scorn will be reserved henceforth exclusively for Democrats, people he finds physically unattractive and their unholy amalgam, Dennis Kucinich.
"I guess you've heard I'm not nearly as liberal as I used to be," Miller said last Monday night, as he launched into a remarkable Howard Beale-ish, mad-as-hell-style diatribe, which followed a bit with a chimp. "I still consider myself a liberal to the extent that I really do believe in someone's right to think and act as conservatively as they want to."
Cute. But, seriously, Miller has chosen to exercise this right by giving President Bush what he himself called "a pass." ("I like him," Miller told the Associated Press last week. "I take care of my friends.") By this he means there will be no criticism of the president on his show — which, due to an overwhelming lack of jokes, a rather somber set, and long, fawning interviews with prominent political figures, looks a lot like ... a real news show.
The decision is also baffling in light of Miller's other stated goal: namely, to "convey just how insane the public discourse has become in this country."
Miller makes up for his intellectual leanings (for which he basically apologized to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who assured him that he "communicates very well") with tricks like the "Dean scream button," a handy buzzer that emits the shriek heard 'round the world every time he punches it.
Last week, the sincere people consisted of Schwarzenegger (returning the campaign-stumping favor by appearing on episode one), former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sen. John McCain. Needless to say, Miller's fawning interview style made Jiminy Glick look like Mike Wallace.
Monday, February 2
This Fall He'll Host The 3am Upper Left Hand Corner Show On Bloomberg
That is, after this gets cancelled. This morning's L.A. Times reviews Miller's latest: