Dennis Miller's Xenophobic Standup Is Seriously Offensive

Categories: Comedy

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So much loathing behind that innocent smile.
Dennis Miller made himself chuckle onstage last night at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida, with the line, "Arabs will go to the moon when the Israelis set up camp there."

Hardy fucking har? Out of context, it doesn't make much sense, but the parts are what are important here. It took about three minutes of anti-Arab diarrhea gushing from the hateful maw of the former Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchor and recent commentator on The O'Reilly Factor before I decided I didn't need the abuse and left the show. As an American of Arab descent, I was, to put it delicately, pretty fucking grossed out.

I knew it or something like it was coming, but I couldn't sit through his hate speech considering the current conflicts in the Middle East. As the crowd cheered with glee at the dehumanizing stereotypes, I kept thinking about the NPR story I heard the day before about a father in Gaza assuaging his children's horror -- kids made physically ill from fear -- by saying the bombs dropping around them are fireworks.

The set actually started out hopeful. It was pretty funny and punchy. But toward the end, the atmosphere in the room went from potentially listenable to seriously hostile.

Things got shaky as Miller segued from a decent Terri Schiavo joke to one about how he gives no shits about gays getting married or global warming. I mean, global warming? What a load of horse crap, amirite? From there, he talked extensively about Cialis (i.e., dicks) and launched a rallying cry against Obamacare as the crowd squealed with delight, because fuck the uninsured, I guess.

Why not piggyback mammograms onto x-ray body scanners at the airport, Miller wondered out loud. He eloquently moved on next to mock Nancy Pelosi's face. And from that truly disconcerting and misogynistic transition, he totally flushed the night down the toilet by making fun of James Carville's looks, not even his politics.

Finally, he got the whole room honking by praising racial profiling and dismissing the civil rights of Arabs, because in Miller's simplistic world, we are basically all "terrorists."

I really tried to swallow his flagrant bigotry as he lauded the benefits of ethnic screening and pooh-poohed the personal freedom of some over others, as the crowd -- which seemed to be frothing at the mouth for A-rab blood -- hooted and hawed. But seeing as how bombs have this week alone killed 170 and injured about 1,000 in Gaza, displacing thousands more Palestinians, I couldn't hear anything over the churning of my stomach (read about it here).

I love comedy. I truly believe that you can joke about anything. And by anything, I mean, any-single-awful-thing. Just say something funny and I'll laugh. I couldn't breathe when Joan Rivers performed on that same stage handling delicate subjects tastelessly like a pro. I really almost choked on my own saliva-induced cackling.

Miller, on the other hand, spewed pure manure. He's waiting till we Americans (presumably not Arab-Americans...) start "using common sense again" in relation to airport security. They need to spend more time screening folks that look like me and leaving folks like him alone. So funny, dude! Or, as his tour mate, Dana Carvey, would have once said: "Not!"

Miller seemed pleased with his concept of self, one in which he's so lily white that he'd never be allowed inside a mosque. He seems to think all Arabs are hulking, swarthy, hirsute murderers. Perhaps he needs to check the internet to know that we all don't look the same. In fact, many of us look like him (a listicle of Muslims who look like Dennis Miller, anyone?).

Miller knows comedy too. Most of his jokes rode the line between really amusing and "is that funny?" On Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, he pointed out, if you're a 19-year-old girl asked to give the president a blow job, never turn down that opportunity. He said he'd even blow a president so he could describe himself as "a bit of a patriot" to his future grandkids.

When Miller said he was most angry at Muslims for taking away Cat Stevens, for instance, OK, a chuckle. But as the joke devolved, I felt like I was in a room full of hungry sharks, sniffing around for violence. What if they sensed the Lebanese blood pulsing in my veins or noticed that I was sitting next to a dude who looks a little like a youthful Saddam Hussein? Would they devour us? Would we have to engage in a choreographed Sharks versus Jets chase scene?

BTW, what the hell is Dana Carvey doing on tour with this monster?

I expected Carvey to just do one long string of impressions. He essentially did but in the context of some pretty good jokes. He addressed all the politicians he imitated without judgment or vitriol. The audience cheered for Reagan and booed Obama. The churning of hatred started there, but Carvey didn't seem to indulge it.

He did a bit about a depressed Chinese guy, saying, "In my village of 40 million..." and we laughed at the numbers. He translated himself from fake Chinese into English: "All we make is underwear. That is all we make." It was an innocent joke, a comment on overpopulation, nothing politically incendiary. He grabbed a guitar and sang songs off a potential Neil Young Christmas album. If only the night had ended there, with a good old-fashioned laugh at Neil Young's expense.

As someone who started suckling on the SNL teat very young, I felt like these comedians were my teachers or babysitters. It stings to have my people spoken of as inherently criminal by a guy who I had an elementary-school crush on (yes, it's true; Dennis Miller and then Norm MacDonald, who replaced him, and always Mike Myers). It's not like I'm just feeling the burn of rejection based on my mother's bloodline -- although, a little. What really hurts should be obvious. And for the same reasons I frown upon it, the audience laughed at it.

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Hard Rock Live

1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, FL

Category: Music

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21 comments
fir3walker
fir3walker

Liz is such a class act:

"Things got shaky as Miller segued from a decent Terri Schiavo joke..."

So... jokes about traumatic brain injury victims in a vegetative state are ok... but not about Anti-Semitic Arabs.

Got it.  Thanks.

Outtahere
Outtahere

When humor crosses the line from joking about ANY group of people to pure hate-mongering,, they lose their credibility as a comedian. It questions their humanity.

Jon Stewart is a perfect example of how to do it right. Liz gave an excellent summation of her opinion about this show. She has the sophistication and sense of humor to laugh at herself and her heritage. What ethnic group is perfect? She was not trying to write a peace accord, but refreshingly asked people to keep open minds.

Liz clearly depicts Miller as a failed entertainer who has landed upon an easy target audience......dim witted Limbaugh-lovers who continue to prop him up. Through him they find a "safe place" to let their Hater out.

Getgonnahappen
Getgonnahappen

Liz, you are lost on this show. It is entertainment and as such there are liberties entertainers are allowed and encouraged to take in the name of entertainment; just like the liberal press.

Dennis did make some biting comments, true. These comments may come from his personal opinion but more likely from his listening to the public's frustrations based on events that are out of our control and not accurately reported in the press. You r correct, not all Arabs are terrorists, I too know this firsthand. But Arabs have not done anything to reverse this stereotype on any level or in any country. But bashing those who express fear is also an act of adding wood to the fire.

It is no secret that Obamacare is not a well thought out plan. Pelosi screamed to lawmakers, "sign the bill, you can read it later". I saw that on the 6:30pm news; and that statement came from the Speaker of House of these United States; this did not offend you? Talk about having it your way so you at least look good on record for passing something, then Pelosi bought herself a new jet to cart herself back and forth to DC. You helped pay for that too; still not offended?

Obamacare is expensive, and if you need something as simple as a cardiologist to read an EKG, as Dana would say, 'not gonna happen'. The executive administration could not even find a U.S. IT company to get the rollout completed, and the non-U.S. IT company heavily donated to Obama's campaign, then, got the government job, and failed at the expense of U.S. Taxpayers, I assume you pay taxes in this country too - and this doesn't bother you? Your delicate American - Lebonese sensibilities aren't offended that your hard earned U.S. dollars were pissed away and you still don't have healthcare bc you can't log on?

If you want unbiased reporting of U.S. current events, go listen/watch BBC. I'm confident you wil be offended once more to see how the rest of the world views the U.S. bc of the leadership or lack of depending on your view.

Frustration is a stress and comedy along with yoga usually helps relieve stress. I think you should be offended that Miller seemed to cut the show short. Dana's impression of Obama showed a person with a lot of yack and no act. It appears this was lost on you. Next time, try yoga.

Nancy Farley
Nancy Farley

dennis was devolving into a prejudiced duche 10 yrs ago. very sad.

fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

What. An. Asshole.


sporto_sporto
sporto_sporto

So shocking that someone named 'Myron' doesn't get it and has no fucking grasp of English grammar. Stop fucking your sister for like three minutes (consecutive please) and pay attention you fucktard. #smd ;)

Bob Newman
Bob Newman

Bill Maher, Chris Rock, Andrew Dice Clay, Lenny Bruce, Jerry Lewis, even the Smother Brothers offended people. I remember the Polish-American League protested against Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in because the did so many Polish jokes. Fat guys, bald guys, gays, blacks, Irish drunks & Jews, have been the target of jokes forever.... even cripples (physically challenged) and retards (mentally challenged) are not spared. Asian drivers and Asians with a camera. How about dumb blondes or woman drivers? Red necks and Hillbillies aren't spared either. If you're too sensitive or afraid of humor that touches too close to home... Don't go to comedy shows, watch movies or TV and don't write reviews! I forgot about Pakistani can drivers and Indian convenience store clerks.... Or British people with bad teeth... Tasteless jokes that stereotype people have been around forever.... Get thicker skin or stay home! A rabbi, a priest, and a duck walk into a bar.....

Pete Pepper
Pete Pepper

I remember a time when he was funny..but then the right wing got their claws into him. Now, he is just a hate filled FAUX pundit without a single amusing thing to say.

James Kendall
James Kendall

Dennis Miller stopped being funny about 25 years ago. Much like Don Imus's 'Nappy Headed Hoes' comment, he didn't get in trouble because what he said was racist. He got in trouble because what he said was racist and not funny. Don't go away mad, Dennis you overplayed right wing shill, just go away.

Myron Luzniak
Myron Luzniak

A bitter review written by someone who has no understanding of comedy. You took the routine literally. Lighten up, everyone is free game in comedy. Don't take it personally, and if you do, oh well. If you get offended by a stand up act, wow do you have issues and no spine.

Micah Lee
Micah Lee

He's an idiot with a freaky smile.. But there is a market for trashing our poor and recently immigrated ... Too bad they don't support the arts like the libs

James Echols
James Echols

I never liked him. Not funny, not smart, just a pompous jerk.

liz.tracy
liz.tracy moderator editor

@fir3walker ARABS ARE SEMITES! Get a library card and learn something. That Terri Schaivo line was a joke too. Get it??! No, you don't. 

Anonanon
Anonanon

There is a difference between making a joke and being a racist fucking asshole.  Dennis Miller is a racist fucking asshole.

danielreskin
danielreskin

She established she gets comedy, and nods to his skill. Everyone is fair game in comedy, but there is a message beneath every joke. It's the difference between "aren't humans curious?" and "these people are fucked up."

fir3walker
fir3walker

@liz.tracy @fir3walker Yeah... listen, Liz, why not trade in that library card for something called "The Internet"? (and welcome to the 21st Century, btw!)

When you do, go ahead and look up "Current events: Israel" and find out what Netanyahu is calling all those Arabs lobbing missiles at Israel.

I'll bet you'll find "Anti-Semites" among the more complementary adjectives for the local Arab population.

p.s.(btw, Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of Israel... not sure how current your local library is...)

LOL!!

aztecace
aztecace

The real Dennis died with 911, he's has become so paranoid, and his new far right leaning belief reflect it

liz.tracy
liz.tracy moderator editor

@danielreskin Thank you for explaining, very funny comedian Daniel Reskin. 

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