Aaron Goldstein: Tina Fey Isn’t Funny

By Josh Painter
Aaron Goldstein writes at The American Spectator that when he heard The Kennedy Center had named Tina Fey the 2010 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor last week, his first thought was, "Are they kidding?":
In 2009, the award was bestowed upon Bill Cosby. The idea of honoring Tina Fey the year after Bill Cosby is kind of like the Baseball Hall of Fame enshrining "Marvelous" Marv Throneberry the year after inducting Mickey Mantle. The Mick and Marvelous Marv were both baseball players but the similarities end there. Cosby and Fey are both comedians but there too the similarities end.

If Fey is being honored for creating humor from her uniquely American experience, then the best that I can tell it is because of her imitation of Sarah Palin. Not that I object to her impersonation because Palin certainly doesn't. Of course, Palin was such a good sport about it that she went on SNL to meet her mimic. In Going Rogue, Palin recounts dressing up as Fey during one Halloween. Palin writes, "I was Tina Fey before she was me."

But let's not kid ourselves. When Fey receives the prize in November, a week removed from the midterm elections, the ceremony will turn into little more than yet another opportunity for the so-called sophisticates from D.C., New York and Hollywood to pillory Palin. If not for the former Alaska Governor, would Fey have been honored this year? In which case, it would merely confirm that Fey is being honored for all the wrong reasons.


By this point, some of you might accuse me of not finding women funny. While I generally find women less funny than men the argument doesn't apply here. Because if anyone should be honored with the Mark Twain Prize it ought to be Carol Burnett, a woman who with the tug of her ear could tug at your heart. How can she not be recognized for her contributions to American humor? She was the first amongst equals on one of the greatest shows in the history of television. How can she not be recognized for her contributions to American humor? Granted, Burnett was presented with the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003. However, this hasn't prevented Bill Cosby, Steve Martin and Neil Simon from receiving both the Kennedy Center Honors and the Mark Twain Prize.

Humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I am well aware there are many people who consider Tina Fey to be funny. But the idea of honoring Tina Fey for her humor seems like a bad running joke in a comedy sketch that just won't end. As Mark Twain wrote in one of his many letters, "Humor unsupported rather hurts its author in the estimation of the reader." It might only be one man's opinion, but Tina Fey just isn't funny.
No, it's not just one man's opinion...

- JP

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