Keller @ Large: What Jokes About President Obama Are Appropriate?

BOSTON (CBS) – This past weekend, comedian Reggie Brown impersonated President Barack Obama at the Republican Leadership Conference.

Here is a link to C-Span’s coverage of the events.

The subject itself is very touchy, and with a tough campaign looming, it’s a relevant question: Which Obama jokes are appropriate and acceptable and which are not?

You’ve got to admit, Brown does resemble the president. And for the most part, he aimed his jokes at standard presidential targets.

WBZ’s Jon Keller is at large:

“I figured I’d do what any great president would do in these trying times: head down to Louisiana and polish up on my golf game,” said Brown, during the performance.

It’s not hilarious, but an OK joke, the kind of crack the president himself might laugh at.

“My favorite month is February, Black History Month. Michelle, she celebrates the full month, and I celebrate half,” said Brown.

That’s a reference to the fact that the president is the product of a racially-mixed marriage, a topic Obama himself has joked about in the past.

But, there’s a way to joke about that appropriately, and this isn’t it:

“My father was a black man from Kenya. My mother was a white woman from Kansas. So yes, my mother loved a black man, and no, she was not a Kardashian,” said Brown.

That strikes me as not OK. It’s a crass remark that borders on demeaning. A politician’s deceased relatives are never a tasteful topic for humor.

Add your own take below. Caveat: no one (in their right mind) is calling for censorship; just a voluntary committment to good taste, an increasingly rare commodity these days.

More from Jon Keller
  • J Healey

    Come on John…really? After the SNL’s Will Farrell imitating GW on national TV and Tina Fey doing likewise to Sarah Palin you begrudge a private function from poking fun of Obama? Slow day at the blog?

  • ella

    i think it was innoproperate to make fun of our Obama it was not funny to make fun of him at all and i understand your a comediane and all but there’s a thing for going to far with a joke.Plus your making fun of him for a mess he didn’t even did even do he got voted in to this mess it took 12-16 years to take us that far to where we are today.Personaly I ‘am very proud of our president for taking us this far.

    • Disappointed mike

      REALLY???Obama is the joke. From the man who hides his college transcripts and has an incorrect Social Security Number that did not exist when he started work. The joke is on the American people.
      KNOCK-KNOCK,Who’s there? We do not know!!!!!

  • nunya business

    your a moron who do you think you are about telling what’s appropropriate and whats not. Those jokes were the truth and if someone can’t deal with the truth, TOO BAD. the three of you looked obama like suck ups even before the video and continued to get worse after it. im glad i don’t watch your news broadcast it would make me puke you guys are way to anal

  • mikey

    What jokes about President Obama are appropriate? Obama being elected president for starters.

  • tsal

    There is never an appropriate time to tell an inappropriate joke about anyone – president or your every day individual. Sadly, that is something too many do not understand because making others look bad somehow seems to make them feel they look better.

  • StanleyRamon

    I’m big on having respect, particularly for the office of President of the United States. Unfortunately, these days everything goes. The problem with this comedian’s skit, is that it is paid for by the “Republican Leadership”. The real comedy comes from real Republicans that actually take themselves serious, like Palin, Trump, and that debate last week. Now that’s funny stuff.

  • Frank Davis

    Up to 2008 we didn’t have to tiptoe around any types of jokes aimed at the President. If they wanted to make fun of them for being a moron, philander, flip-flopper or anything else they did with no worries about repercussions. But now we have a President of mixed race in office & things start to get a bit dicey on what to say? Like look at the three examples Jon posted:
    1) They’ve been making golf jokes about Presidents since the sport reached these shores and was popular with the Washington Elite.
    2) Thought the Black History joke was funny because it plays on his mixed heritage which he jokes about also.
    3) That’s more a shot at the Kardashians than anyone else.

    My question is: Did or would the President think these were funny? If he gets offeneded by them then the comedy world knows where the limits of teasing him is. If he rolls and likes them then let them come. We have reached a point now where we can’t do or say anything that someone will find offensive. Are we being reduced to having to walk on eggshells around others so we don’t offend? You want to get an idea on how prudish we’ve become watch Graham Norton on BBC America & see how far he will go for a joke about someone even the Royals.

    Lighten up America! And to quote Heath Ledger’s Oscar performance “Why so serious?”

  • RopeyarnSunday

    Boy, you liberals have a short memory!

    Just think back during the Bush administration when a look-a-like actor’s calendar was full of bookings on Leno and many other shows. They made the President of the USA a laughing stock and attempted to show how dumb he was. Now, that’s demeaning and downright mean.

    Liberals will always say how dumb George W. Bush was because of these skits, but history will show that indeed, he was not dumb enough to have to read from a teleprompter like Obumba does.

    • tsal

      RS – since the majority of comments here have been mocking Obama, which liberals are you referring to? I agree that the skits with regard to Bush were inappropriate. I had actually posted here that there was a time when people actually knew what a joke was and that it did not include belittling anyone. That post never showed up. Frank Davis said we have to lighten up. I disagree. I think we have lightened up – to the point where we have no clue what the definition of respect is. In the past a joke may have been made about a person’s golf game but never would a joke include disrespect for a person’s character.

    • Stephen Stein

      You think W didn’t use teleprompters? Google “Bush Teleprompter”. He used teleprompters in the Mission Accomplished speech. He used teleprompters for his SOTU speeches. He used teleprompters for his convention speeches. He used them all the time.

      • BostonIrish

        RS, you’re off a bit. W did use teleprompters a lot. But I agree that W was slammed pretty hard, and still is. I think we will always be warned about how much joking you can get away with regarding Obama before you crossed THAT line. But for Bush and Palin, the sky’s the limit. Just the way it is.

  • beekeepingbug

    Interesting, I’m pretty sure no one had the ‘appropriate joke’ discussion when Bush was president. Anything was fair game when it came to him. I’m quite certain the constant jokes about his intellegence were ‘not appropriate’. Why is Obama any different, because he’s black?? Now there’s a double standard for you!!

    • tsal

      Beekeepingbug – has anyone said that the jokes about Bush were appropriate? And really – the race card? Perhaps, the jokes are inappropriate because they are tasteless – just as they were in regard to Bush and would be with regard to any other human being.

  • Stephen Stein

    Some of the websites I read were complaining about the racial nature of the Obama jokes, but I didn’t find anything that offended me. (I confess to not getting the Kardashian reference – not hip enough I guess.)

    But the event organizers eventually pulled his plug – not, apparently, for his Obama jokes, but when he started making fun of Republicans.

    What I *do* find offensive (or maybe just ridiculous) was that FOX News hired this guy to be “Obama” in a “debate” with presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

  • BostonIrish

    After seeing what the liberal comedians have rolled out as “funny” these past several years ridiculing the right, I’d say it’s VERY obvious to me that they can dish it out but they can’t take it. Jon Stewart hides under the umbrella of comedy. Tina Fey, Will Farrell, and don’t leave out Kathy Griffin do much of the same.

  • Alces

    Why are people in the media upset because they never got upset or reported jokes about Bush as being inappropriate.In fact, every chance they got they would show and repeat the jokes about Bush by comedians.They would justify the jokes by saying they had an artistic licence to do so.I’m just glad the comedian was black.Just imagine if the comedian was white.We still have the double standard going on in this country by the media. If a black person or a black comedian uses the “N” word, it is OK but don’t let a white individual use the “N” word.If the “N” word is an offensive word then it should be wrong for all individuals to use it.When black comedians referred to Bush as a white “honky” the media never said a word or reported it.If one makes a joke about Christians it is OK with the media but heaven forbid one make a joke about Muslims.The problem lies in the eye of the beholder.The liberal media certainly are not fair and balanced on the issues.

  • hojo

    On the subject of inappropriate humor, let us not forget the President’s reference to his I forget which athletic skills as those of a special olympian. Oops!


    Our “roasting” or telling jokes about our political leaders is mild compared to the British. But as we already know, Obama has a newly created agency in place that tries to negate or “influence” any attempt at ridiculing Obama. Sort of like Goebels Ministry of Propaganda in WW2.

  • massman

    I am a supporter of President Obama. With that being said, I am an even bigger supporter of free speech. If we were living on some other planet, in which Sarah Palin somehow was elected President, then I would be first in line with the jokes. I think my bigger problem is with the fact that the Republican Leadership Conference is responsible for this comedian. Jokes on SNL about political leaders are funny. Hiring an impersonator to mock the President at a Republican conference seems irresponsible, and in poor judgement. And lastly, at least be funny. The guy is dead on with the impersonation, but the “jokes” weren’t funny.

    • Stephen Stein

      Hey, I’m an Obama voter, too, and I thought the half-of-February joke was kind of funny. I think Obama has told that one himself, or would at least chuckle at it.

    • GOP Hack

      Actually, in 2008, the Congressional Democrats hired a Bush impersonator as entertainment. And that wasn’t a caucus of activists – that was the elected, sitting Democrats.

      And yet there were no comments about disrespect or poor judgement at the time. Face it – Democrats created this culture of crass disrespect, and don’t like it when it’s used on them.

      • Stephen Stein

        According to the link (nice find, BTW), this wasn’t for entertainment, it was for political ads. Still a straw-man attack, which I loathe, but not nearly as reprehensible as using it for a news program, as FOX did with their “Obama”.

  • tsal

    I was checking to see who had censored Brown and what the complaints were. In many reports I read that the GOP found it hysterical when Brown showed pictures of Weiner and made fun of Obama. However, when the jokes turned to Gingrich and Pawlenty and then Romney’s mormon faith, the crowd became quite uncomfortable and finally cut off Brown’s microphone.

    Interesting in view of some of the comments here.

    Massman, I am also in favor of free speech as long as it is respectful. There is a definite line and I believe one our founding fathers intended to be there – much of which is proven by their association with freemasonry. I think you are very right about his ability to impersonate but that there was nothing funny about what he said.

  • andyme

    I just love Liberals, shades of gray all through life, short memories. It’s not appropriate to demean the office of the President or Vice President. Not only did they attack Bush’s character and intellect, look at what they did to Cheney. I feel real secure that we have the world’s number one “Used Car Salesman” as a VP. Get a life Jon, this is the way things are today, it started many moons ago, by the Liberals.

  • The Owl

    It would seem that Jon Keller has more of a sense of personal ethic than the liberal.

  • tsal

    Andyme and Owl, maybe the explanation wasn’t clear. The republicans hired this Reggie Brown for their conference entertainment. He made fun of Weiner and Obama and Obama’s wife and more. The GOP thought it was hysterical. Ok – they hired him – I supposed lack of taste is ok. THEN brown turned to making fun of Gingrish, Pawlenty and Romney. The GOP finally shut off his mike, turned on music and escorted him out of the building before he was finished.

    I’d say it wasn’t the liberals unable to take a “joke” if that’s what you think it was. Look it up – -try the WSJ – I didn’t have any trouble finding it so you should not either.

    andyme – want to repeat your theory that this was started by liberals? Can you pinpoint that date? The saddest of all is that some are so biased in one direction only that they cannot see it is on all sides of the aisle and frankly it’s the people who can’t grasp that who are doing the most damage to our country.

  • Stephen McGinn

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