Franken Plays It So Straight It's Funny

But doggone it, people like him
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 7, 2009 9:25 AM CDT
Minnesota's Democratic Senator-elect Al Franken, right, is introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Monday, July 6, 2009, in Washington. Franken,...   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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(Newser) – Al Franken the comedian is finally becoming Al Franken the senator, and his Senate colleagues were quick to demonstrate yesterday that, doggone it, they like him, writes Dana Milbank in the Washington Post. The only humor at a welcoming press conference was (apparently) unintentional, as Majority Leader Harry Reid intoned, “When people find out he's a smart guy who's serious about issues and a hard worker, they'll be pleasantly surprised.” As for Franken, Milbanks says, "His brief speech was so boring it was laughable."

While the new senator might be tempted to use his wit, he’ll have to be careful about it, other Washington funnymen tell NPR, though political humor isn't quite as risky as it was before the era of Stewart and Colbert. And NPR notes that Lincoln is on the short list of the nation's funniest politicians. Still, journalist-comedian Matt Cooper observes that before he does anything funny, Franken will have to pay some dues. "He can't act like he's bigger than his breeches, He will have to be reverential to Robert Byrd. He will have to build up his constituent services." Those, notes Cooper, "are not funny things."