Political humor has come to play an increasingly important role in our election process.
Shows like "Saturday Night Live," "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," "The Colbert Report With Stephen Colbert" and late night comedies such as Leno, Letterman, Ferguson, Kimmel and O'Brien have more impact on framing the political discussions than the news shows do.
Don't be afraid of that — welcome it.
Parodies of political humor can't happen in a vacuum — they only work when they take something that is true and turn up the volume to point out its absurdity or audacity.
A political parody can't create an issue, it can only bring attention to its inconsistencies or its ironies and make us laugh to keep from being mad about it.
The political humor that we get is not a distraction from the truth, it might be the closest thing to the real truth we actually get.
Candidates are carefully scripted — they play it safe within the lines of thoroughly tested words and phrases and will always paint the facts in the most favorable way for the campaign.
News shows are supposed to simply portray what the candidate actually said or did — and that doesn't always tell us much.
Political satire and parodies aren't restricted to playing it straight and can point out the flaws, inconsistencies and outright fabrications of the candidates and make us laugh while telling us what we might not have known.
We also find out something about the candidates in how they react to being laughed at. A person who can't take the criticism of a comedian — even harsh or unfair — can hardly be expected to stand up to the even harsher demands of an office when half the country and maybe more than half the world think he's an incompetent fool.
The person who can't handle the criticism of a comic probably can't handle the threat of a war or even a hostile Congress.
Sure, sometimes the comedy routines go too far and maybe are even unfair, but that's the price we pay for having liberty and liberty deserves — and in fact-demands — some laughs.
That's my view. I would love to have yours. E-mail your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org