Senate: The Ultimate Comedy Club?


In the almost comically contentious Minnesota election between Norm Coleman and Al Franken for a seat in the U.S. Senate, is it any wonder that the joker won?

Grayer and filled with gravitas now, Franken spun an intellectual-style comedy out of his Jewish Minnesota roots, where, as he told the Jewish Exponent's On the Scene while still a writer/performer for "Saturday Night Live" some years back, his Jewish home served up dinner and plenty of dishing on current events.

Bill O'Reilly's favorite comedian — that's a spin on sarcasm — Franken may have left his comedy behind for the Senate but his left-leaning roots remain planted in his past.

And yet, over the years that he's spoken to On the Scene, here was a man who had the chemically unbalanced topic of politics and punchlines down to a science. No surprise then when he said that when he was in college, he "was very good in the sciences. I was going to be either a physicist or chemist or mathematician."

It all adds up that he took his science interest and subtracted human foibles and came up as a commentator on behavioral sciences, which he did so well whether on Comedy Central's "Indecision '96" or his own creation, "Lateline," a tumultuous takeoff on "Nightline," where his lead character talked incessantly of his "zaydie."

The inarguably arrogant Air America pundit has always been proud of his political penchant: "I don't mind being called a liberal," he said years ago.

"Most Americans are liberal, but they don't know it."

What he did know, as it turns out, was his own future. As he quipped on the eve of the 21st century, this was meant to be "The Al Franken Millennium."

Guess he was truly able, after all was said and done — and voted — to look in the mirror and attest: "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you."


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