Saturday, June 13, 2009

How Should David Letterman Have Worded his "Palin Daughter" Joke?

Last Monday night, David Letterman, who is the host of a late-night comedy talk show program called "The Late Show With David Letterman," made a joke about former Republican vice presidential nominee and current Alaska governor Sarah Palin attending a baseball game being played in New York by one of the New York-based baseball playing professional sports teams called "The Yankees." The joke was as follows:

"One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game," Letterman said, "during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."

It turns out that Sarah Palin, who is the former Republican vice presidential nominee and the current governor of Alaska, was attending the game with one of her daughters who is 14 years old. So, it appears that David Letterman's joke made light of statutory rape. (I'm not sure how old Alex Rodriguez is, but he is probably not a minor, as Sarah Palin's 14 year old daughter is.)

Sarah Palin's husband, Todd Palin, said that

"Any ‘jokes’ about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it, and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too."

There has been a lot of discussion and controversy over the joke, not just from the Palins. David Letterman even offered a sort of almost apology for the joke the following night:

"We were, as we often do, making jokes about people in the news and we made some jokes about Sarah Palin and her daughter, the 18-year-old girl, who is – her name is Bristol, that's right, and so, then, now they're upset with me…"

"These are not jokes made about her 14-year-old daughter. I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl. I mean, look at my record. It has never happened. I don't think it's funny. I would never think it was funny. I wouldn't put it in a joke…"

He should not have "apologized" at all, but if he was going to do devote any amount of time on his program to expressing regret, or whatever it was that he expressed, he should have specifically told the 14 year old that he was sorry she got dragged into this.

The Palins are politicians, and like all politicians, they use their children as props. Barack Obama does it, G. W. Bush did it, they all do it. When you're 14 you don't have much of a choice in the matter. In general, I think it's poor form to make jokes about the minor children of politicians who are used as props by their parents.

The politicians themselves, however, should be mercilessly chastised for the practice.

The older Palin daughter, the 18 year-old one, has voluntarily made herself the spokesperson for promiscuity-only sex education courses, or something like that, so she is an acceptable target for humor, I suppose. For that reason, I would like to compose the joke the way it should have been told, so that there would be no misunderstanding for anyone:

"One awkward moment for former Republican vice presidential candidate and current Alaska governor Sarah Palin at the Yankee professional baseball game played at their home field here in New York; during the seventh fixed segment of every game known as an inning, one of the Yankee baseball players called Alex Rodriguez, who has been romantically linked to many famous women including Madonna and Kate Hudson, among others, and is known to be quite promiscuous in his sexual activities, called a 'time out,' got on an airplane and flew to Alaska. Now, follow me on this, the plane traveled so fast, that Alex Rodriguez actually aged backwards, and when the plane landed in Alaska, he was 18 years old! I know- it's a scientific anomaly, to be sure. Anyway, there he met with Sarah Palin's older daughter, Bristol Palin, who is legally an adult and the spokesperson for some kind of sexual education campaign and therefore acceptable joke fodder, and there he spent some time courting her. The airplane ride had actually bent time, so they didn't know how long they spent courting. It might have been months, or a few minutes- it felt like months to them. How long does it take to actually fall in love? Again, the game was still in 'time out,' so Alex Rodriguez had to return as quickly as he could. So anyway, the two grew to be quite romantically interested in each other, in a completely non-icky way, and they engaged in a romantic tryst inside the Palins' home. And now, Bristol Palin, who has already had one child, is pregnant again."

This joke is even more hilarious now, especially when you consider that the elder Palin daughter and the person who impregnated her, I cannot remember his name, supposedly engaged in coitus in the Alaska governor's home. Moreover, there is no mistaking which Palin daughter David Letterman was referencing. He also covers the "Alex Rodriguez is still significantly older than the older Palin daughter" angle by having the plane trip age him backwards (I think that's at least theoretically possible, thanks to quantum theory). Then there's the added bonus of the joke being quite wordy, and would likely take about eight or nine minutes to tell.

My point is this- David Letterman, if only you'd worded your joke properly, you wouldn't find yourself in this predicament.

David Letterman and guest, on his televised late night comedy and talk program.

Letterman pic source.


Miss Malevolent said...

He should have just said, "I'm sorry". And left it at that. Now it is snowballing.

Ricky Sprague said...

Miss Malevolent,

I agree- if he was going to express regret he should have just said, "I'm sorry," and that's it. Less than a minute on the show, and he's done.

This story went on all week!