Miller, soon to grace the cover of VICE?
Finally! Tonight’s the night that the soulless pod person formerly known as Dennis Miller premieres with his new CNBC show and I couldn’t be more ambivalent about it. Part of me wants to see if this shaggy dog still has some bite, another part of me wants to see him put-down.
Miller was the ur-eighties hep cat comedian when I was growing up. His intelligent, wildly-associative riffs (or “rants,” as he came to call them) were oases of wit in a televisual landscape dotted with bad prop comics and even worse observational comedians standing in front of the exposed brick walls—firing squad style—of two-drink minimum comedy shitholes across the country.
While I’d like to believe that Miller was once a lefty, I know that’s not true. His politics, like his famously unruly hair, was all over the place. I recently caught Miller on an old episode of Late Night with David Letterman on Trio (which rebroadcasts Letterman’s juvenilia as “Classic Dave” every weeknight at 10PM EST) which disabused me of any fantasy that he was once a liberal. Dressed in a wide-shouldered black and gray checked jacket over a black button down (yes, I Love the Eighties), Miller went on a mini-rant about the Ayatollah Khomeini, replete with stereotypical “Indian” accent. (Hey, old Dennis: Khomeini was from Iran, where they have an entirely different accent you can mock for a cheap laugh.)
But what Miller had back then—despite difficulty pinning-down his exact politics—was an anti-authority attitude, an anger at the elites that dominated the eighties from Reagan to Boesky to Milken. Miller’s pre-9/11 outlook can be charitably described as anti-authoritarian/libertarian, but we all know that that’s changed. (For a better analysis of Miller’s conversion, check out Rick Chandler’s Miller’s Crossing over at The Black Table.)
Since Miller has jumped—swooned, actually—into bed with the G.O.P., he’s morphed into something like Lenny Bruce in reverse. Think about it: where Bruce shredded pieties and tore-down the hypocrisies of the 50s and early 60s, the new and improved Miller defends the status quo, and uses his comedic platform to bolster those in power. Forget speaking truth to power: Miller whispers sweet nothings in power’s ear and even writes jokes to come out its mouth from time to time. The shaggy mutt with the wily look in his eyes and the occasional fangs has become a lapdog, happy to roll over and have his tummy rubbed by the President.
Dennis Miller premieres tonight at 9PM EST on CNBC.
Sidebar: If you’re thinking CNBC is the network day traders watch between killing sprees, you’re wrong. It’s now the home of several comedy shows (intentional and otherwise) hosted by has-beens. Some dead drunk may have once said that there are no second acts in American life, but there are, and they’re on CNBC. How long ’till this guy has his own entertainment and politics show and tosses softballs to his cousin on-air?
20 replies on “The Daily Grinding Show”
please provide one example of anything funny this man ever did or said. i was not glued to SNL during that period, but when I caught it, Miller always struck me as trite, and just radiated satisfaction with his own schtick. ‘Another unfunny man impersonating a comedian’, I thought….. wha’d I miss?
Great stuff… you guys are writing some of the sharpest media stuff around– who are you? And how big is your audience, because I can tell you right now it’s too small. This little website is churning out better content then just about anything else out there… it’s not my happening but it freaks me out! Nice work!
It looks like ol’ Denny is lining up his last-quarter career act: taking names and numbers so he can do the GOP corporate luncheon/retreat circuit in about a year or two. Kinda sad to see him turn into a complete Republican fluffer. I’m looking at CNBC in a different light, btw. Funny and thought provoking stuff, good job.
“I like him,” Miller explained. “I’m going to give him a pass. I take care of my friends.”
Reached for comment, President Bush said he was a big fan of Miller’s, especially of Hans and Franz. The president repeated the duo’s popular catchphrase, “I want to PUMP – YOU UP!” several times, cracking himself up. Several reporters laughed along with him. A reporter who attempted to tell the president that Hans and Franz were characters by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon was taken for a “time-out.”
also, the miller show’s producer cozily works for governor arnie’s propaganda/publicity wing in kullyfornya. I’d rather watch an entire hour of miller’s pathetic eighties checked jacket than his even more pathetic circa 2004 court jester authoritarian ass kissing schtick .
I’m sure it’s hard for people to like Dennis Miller’s material if they don’t like his politics, so a blog like this isn’t going to give him too much support. So predictable.
Miller has always made me laugh, even when I didn’t get the joke and had to type in a vague reference into Google in hopes of following along. He’s the thinking man’s comedian. He’s smart, and he usually thinks for himself (giving Bush a pass isn’t very “thinking man” of him, though).
Besides, you put Miller in a room with Garafalo and she’s gonna come out in the comedian’s equivalent of a body bag. The left has nobody who can go toe-to-toe with him. Al Franken? Please. Who else “represents” the left and is supposed to be funny? Mag Cho? Meager jokes for liberal third graders. Anybody can poke fun at Bush (and just about everybody does) but nobody is terribly good at it, and it’s become so damn rote. Until somebody on the left can find an good way to tell political jokes, I’m gonna watch Miller.
dennis miller and politics DO NOT go hand in hand, contrary to conventional wisdom. the guy is genuinely funny and scabrous when you get him to comment on whatever seinfeld-esque minutiae happens to be out there in the pop landscape, when he invokes the trademarked leftfield historical references of his.
however: he trips up when he tries to incorporate political dialogue into his work. i can’t think of -specific- dialogical slipups, but i know from having seen him on many a show and venue, e.g. real time with bill maher, et al, that the guy can’t hold water when forced to defend a principle. instead you’ll get so-called witty retorts along the lines of “the left carps on and on about no blood for oil, but where were these guys when angelina jolie had her lips fattened with 19th century oil blubber” or some such stupid crack.
the joke is made, but the political statement alluded to is not referenced in any rational fashion. as opposed to, say, even al franken, or aaron macgruder, or whomever, who know how to blend commentary with jokes, to an extent.
what the larger point here is, i suspect, is one of a so-called news oriented network airing yet another show that is merely an outlet for a comedian to ply his trade. it’s been reduced even further from forums like the o’reilly factor, where at least the fire-breathing host, entertaining though his bombast may be, attended harvard’s jfk govt grad school program.
dennis miller is a comedian, nothing more, sitting at a news desk on a news network television program. and that’s the problem.
I’ll put John Stewart up against DM any day of the week… and Harry Shearer, and Richard Belzer.
I am so disappointed in Dennis Miller. His being a so-called liberal was never what made him so clever, it was the fact that he could always seemingly look past the “spin” of politics and expose the bullshit.
If anyone has fallen for the party line Bush and company have been spewing for the duration of the war, they’ve only become part of the spin machine.
I think I always held Dennis Miller to a slightly higher standard than that.
i can’t believe all the teary regret about this guy. i don’t even think he has opinions, but has decided that having a point of view gives his quip-making a semblence of coherence. as jp points out, coherence is not his strong suit, and is contrary to his scattershot aesthetic (god that sounds way too hoity toity for this piddling smart ass, which is all he is).
“good” quotes from him over at Salon today, btw.
The closed set really exposes how unfunny he is, at one point the crew (?) tittered at yet another joke about Dean needing anger management classes and it lent a pathetic public access feel to the whole affair. And his arcane movie/whatever refrences are so outdated and well, stupid! I don’t know what he’s talking about- at one point he called something “glengarry” ( I assume he’s talking about the movie; Glen-garry glen-ross, whatever, what a punk!) What the hell did he mean? Later he ended some speil comparing
somebody to Walter Matthau in “Failsafe”. The guy is getting old, he’s loosing his mind. He is oddly quiet without an audience to bounce off of. I get the impression he’s stopped snorting coke- back in the day he was kinda funny but even then you could tell it was all coke and mirriors. The same thing happened to my dad- he was a happy left wingish nutty guy then he quit doing coke and he got all straight and conservitive. To sorta quote DM: ” got a stick up his ass”
The first comercial during his interview with
Arnold S. was a chamber of commercy ad for beautiful California. Rat bastard.
The “Varsity” panel was a real hoot. It was like a contest to fill up as much time as possable with statements that become increasingly more vague. Miller can’t moderate his way out of a paper bag. Big fat ego head.
I tuned in the next night and the same three dolts were on the panel again- I guess they are a regluar feature. The combined anti-charasmatic, soulless, substance-free
void created by those three make Miller look like a shining star of reason. I bet he hand-picked those fools himself. Why does Naiomi W. keep touching David H.? That is gross! Ocasionally the guy makes a good point but he is too busy claiming partisanship
meanwhile forcing his dogmatic worldview into soundbites that attempt to speak to “the common man, the everyman” his third-person-I-told-you-so attitude belys his need to be in the mix, where the real action is.
So, why not start claiming to be right wing or what the hell ever, it’s where the real money is- and loads of creepy politics for you. Go, DM, hoist your ass up cnbc’s pole, I’ll be watching. This is my kinda reality t.v.. Dennis is just a drinking game waiting to happen…
Hey Kelly, good points. Just as a point of clarification, Dennis’ lame reference to “the glengarry leads” is indeed a reference to David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, and the “glengarry lead” he referred to is the good leads, the leads that pay off.
That said, the joke was clearly a stock-reference he had on hold, it wasn’t funny, and like the rest of his new show, it fell completely flat. But at least it wasn’t the usual anti-Mexican race baiting that Miller’s been perpetrating in all three of the episodes that have aired. Miller has spouted antiquated racist sentiments about (illegal and legal) Mexicans like when he said–in the presence of the state’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger–that if you go to the California/Mexico border at night and look with night vision goggles, it’ll look like the Boston Marathon in Panchos. (Fucking PANCHOS? He neglected to mention how they’re so lazy and they have bushy mustaches and donkeys, the racist moron). Oh, and the Governor didn ‘t condemn those offensive jokes at all: he said “I just love your references.” (The joke’s even funnier since the commercials for the show have Miller saying he’s now on CNBC “Or as they say in Mexico, ‘Yes-NB-Yes!’ Haha. They have a whole different language in Mexico.)
This show is dreadfully, agonizingly bad and I for one can’t wait for that entertainment and politics show hosted by Billy Bush. Please CNBC, cancel Dennis Miller and hire Billy Bush. Pretty please.
What the hell was with last nights show (thurs1/29)? Did DM get a contact-gay from Martin Short or what? The ol’ varsity panel was giggle city! What a bunch of PUKES!
Winter and unemployment have found me-
weeknightly- chained to latenite t.v. from dumb-assed DM to the excelent John Stewert then to ol’ David L. (altho I’ve watched for years the vote is still out on Dave-I still don’t know if I love him or hate him, It’s like needing a cup of coffee in the morning only the opposite.) And last but not least; Conan O’brian. I’m a frigging junkie addicted to LOOSER! It’s the only drug I can afford (they hand it out freely) and I’m HOOKED!
Last night Dave was a repeat (why, when they show reruns, do they play a show from, like, last month?, one i still remember?) So I watched the other lame X-snl newscaster, Colin Quinn- how did he get a show? I get the impression both fox and nbc farmed DM and Colin off to they’re news branches to run out they’re contracts. Get back under the salary cap. Let them yammer away and sit on ugly
furniture, give ’em an old version of photoshop and a flat-screen t.v on a post.- It’ll be a laugh riot.
Pope jokes, more Pope jokes!- more Dean soundbites! yeaharrrgh!!!
The Flaming Lips have told me I have the most beautiful face so many times I’m begining to believe them.
Denny’s whole career has been one long slide downhill. Look:
Dennis Miller as Weekend Update Anchorman: Usually funny.
Dennis Miller on the Dennis Miller Show: Sometimes funny.
Dennis Miller as actor in The Net, Murder at 1600, Bordello of Blood etc.: Limited success–at being Dennis Miller.
Dennis Miller as NFL commentator: Dismal failure.
Dennis as CNBC court jester and GOP cocksucker: ?
Just what the world needed… another comedian turned GOP lackey. What til Miller figures out that liberals are the only ones smart enough to get his jokes. Can there be any doubt that his career is in its twilight, when Mike Murphy gets to tell him his punch lines. At least Rush Limbaugh started as a convservative idealogue and got funny rather than the other way around. So long Dennis…. You wanted to name the chimp “George” or “W” didn’t ya but Murphy nixed it… tell the truth.
DM’s employment picture was a lot brighter under Clinton than Bush, but thats no less true than for most Americans, it seems. Its a long way from Miller circa 1998 “liberalism better be alive and breathing fire” (The Rants) to 2004 and thats okay, hes allowed to switch teams. At the end of the day Al Franken mops the floor with DM and John Kerry looks pretty damn good against Dubya.
Yes….all the regular liberal rhetoric. Is there ever a point when you deluded libs look at yourself in the mirror and say “I worship Al Franken and Micheal Moore,” and ” I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog gone it, liberals like me.” You dogshit popsicles hate Miller because he grewout of the liberal delusional drone and their attempts to impose their views of socialism as an alternative to capitalism. I used to be a liberal myself, and my life itself is liberal, but liberalism has no business in government. To do so would be irresponsible. Marijuana will never be legal because liberals always try to lie and force it upon our society. This makes our leaders contemptuous, and people like me, who just want to grow and provide for myself. Stop using rhetoric. Start speaking truth and due away with conspiracy. Conspiracies get us nowhere and leaders look at the left and just laugh at their sad, self absorbed, delusional, idealistic pining for something to believe in. I bet you libs were really sad when yo mamas told you there wasn’t no fuckin Satan claus. So fuck every single liberal. I say go join your buddies, Al Quaeda, and maybe you can shoot some of our soldiers rather than spit on their honor
Dennis, thank you for your nightly program. I love your making fun of both conservatives and liberals – I just hope the libs can take it. This has been an especially interesting week with George being pilloried for his National Guard Service and not a word about John Kerry and the reporter except from Wesley Clark (the Republicans will be blamed for that). Isn’t Clark something else? He never tells a story the same wasy twice. Thanks for every bit of humor!
Nice back and forth on the board, glad it’s not all one-sided. I’m still on the fence about the show, I’ve only seen three or four episodes. Miller tries too hard sometimes, and fails at comedy as well as commentary. Most of the time I enjoy the show, and I could give a fuck less if he is a right- or left- winger. Miller still rules. Hey, Bill Maher agrees, he totally snaked one of DM’s jokes about Dick Cheney and used it on his show the very next night. Does anybody know where one might find transcripts of Miller’s show? [email protected]
Miller was an idiot on SNL and an even bigger idiot now. His show is boring, almost as pathetic as boring as Rush Limbaugh, he will wind up just like him. He couldn’t hold a candle to Al Franken.