Will Blog For Plumbing Work
By: Mark W Adams

The theory holds. The internetz IS a series of Tubez, that are now irretrievably clogged with the story of Joe the Not Really a Plumber from Toledo. Seriously, there's so much shit out there on Joe right now, you'd think we were vetting a vice Presidential candidate. Lord knows he took more questions, answered them more frankly if not honestly, and held more extensive press conferences than Sarah Palin.

Such is the tabloid nature of our political discourse. Biden was on Leno, McCain made up with Letterman, SNL went at it again. These venues will no doubt sway the few, the proud, the completely ignorant undecided voters that are left.

I caught McCain and Obama at the Al Smith Roast last night ... and I gotta tell ya....

I was wrong in my previous claim that John McCain reminded me of Don Rickles, even though they bear a striking resemblance. McCain came out in best tradition of Bob Hope. For you Gen Y'ers out there, ask your parents. Trust me that McCain really can clown it up and deliver a deadpan punchline as well as any professional comic.

Frankly, they got the billing wrong. Based on their sense of comic timing alone, Obama should have been McCain's warm-up act and not the other way around.

Not that Barack didn't bring the funny, he did. But as we saw in the last (thank god) debate, McCain is a natural clown. That's clearly evident in the completey unserious way he has managed his campaign and approached the issues of our time. Fortunately, judging by Obama's overwhelming lead in the polls, America is not looking for a Comic in Chief right now.

A couple of folks out there observed, I think Olliver Willis was one, that Barack Obama needed to reach a tipping point at one time or another, nudge past 50% in the polls or so where the people would find him acceptable, before we actually could elect an African-American president. That even the non-bigots out there wouldn't support him due to his race out of fear that he would lose because there simply were too many racists out there for him to overcome. Once he reached that electability threshold, the dam would burst, allowing those who otherwise liked everything else about him and had no personal reservations holding them back on account of Barack's background to support him knowing that the racial barrier had been minimalized enough for him to actually win this thing.

I think one part of Obama's surge in the polls can be attributed to that phenomenon, those Americans who regretted that Obama was not electable due to other American's bigotry now understand that we have overcome. There's still a lot of ugly out there, but not enough to keep a good man down. And of course, the economy helped Obama more than any model could overestimate, but he's kept that lead consistently.

Going back to the Al Smith performance, the dueling stand-up candidate/comics, it's just not Barack's thing. While McCain reminded me of funny-men who got their start in the Catskills back in the 40's or 50's, Obama was much smoother, cooler, but stilted. He's a great speaker, comfortable in front of a crowd -- which is no small thing folks. Public speaking is one of the most terrifying things there is, and Obama is a natural. But he's also something new when it comes to comparing him to the treasure of comedians we've known through the years.

There's been no dearth of black comics over the last 50 years, but Obama simply doesn't fit that mold. He's certainly no Redd Foxx or even a Bill Cosby, and he can't be compared to the likes of Richard Pryor or even the cleaner yet clownish Flip Wilson by any means (again kids, ask Mom). Nor did he remind me of a younger stable of comics of any race. He's no Chris Rock any more than he's a Darrel Hanna or Dane Cook. Maybe I'm being unfair, trying to compare black and white comics. Jim "Beyond the Pale" Gaffigan is whiter than white, and has no more in common with Obama than Lewis Black, who's not black and doesn't remind me of Obama either.

But it is a black thing, this idea that despite admiring all his talents, there is (or was) a segment of the people who might have held back their support for him fearing he couldn't break through because there sadly exist an undercurrent of irrational hate in the country that we just don't talk about in polite company. There's also another entertainment venue that has been a barrier to black entertainers until recently, movies.

So stand-up isn't Barack's thing. That's okay. He can deliver the lines, and they're funny, but his talents lie elsewhere. Just like he's no Jesse Jackson, he's no Martin Lawrence either. But Lawrence's co-star in Bad Boys, Will Smith, is not exactly known for his one-liners and stand-up routine. He's entertaining, often funny, but there's a little more gravitas to the Oscar nominated and golden Globe winning actor who's more in a league with Academy Award winners Denzel Washington (talk about your funny names) and Jamie Foxx than anyone on the stand-up circuit.

Small wonder that Obama himself said that Will Smith should play him in the movie of his life. Not a bad guy to be compared with when you consider Smith holds the record for the most consecutive films grossing over $100 million, ever.

Barack certainly can be funny, but there's more to him than that. He's a leader, a leading man if you will. Save for the occasional Sydney Pointier, there weren't too many black leading men who America would embrace 40 years ago. America is ready, more than ready as a culture to accept the skinny black guy with the funny name -- the Change Candidate. We've changed, and I for one cannot wait for the political change that's coming, reflecting the social change we've accomplished.

This is merely one step, but a big one. We've got a lot further to go and may never eliminate entirely the divisive nature race plays in our society, at least in my lifetime. But as a landmark along the way, "President Barack Obama" is a phrase we all should be proud of.