Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the former comic and comedy writer, returned to the standup stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Tuesday night (July 25).
In his speech, Franken established his bona fides immediately as the author of books excoriating the Republican right -- Franken is himself a former politically-minded radio personality. In 2004, he hosted a short-lived daily talk show on the short-lived Air America, which was meant to be a progressive counterpoint to conservative talk radio then dominated by Rush Limbaugh.
"He called himself a "world-renowned expert on right-wing megalomaniacs: Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Rielly and now Donald Trump."
Franken said he got a doctorate in megalomania studies at Trump University, the school of "ripping people off," then spent the bulk of his speech trashing it as an institution of higher scamming.
He got serious for a moment, saying that "rather than voting for someone who has never done anything for anyone other than himself, maybe we should go with a candidate who has spent her entire life working to get important things done for the American people."
Franken said what his audience did in the 102 days between the end of the convention and the election could determine who wins, adding, "and I mean that literally." He noted that he won his first Senate race by 312 votes. He pointed to the wildly cheering Minnesota delegation and said they had contacted more than that number themselves and were the reason he was giving his speech at the convention "and not in my bathroom mirror."
Franken then got sort of unserious again, advising the audience to abandon their young kids to microwaved meals and the care of their older siblings to go stump for Hillary Clinton.
"Many of your have jobs; many of you have families," he said. "Ignore them. Kids love it when their parents aren't home. An eight-year-old kid knows how to use a microwave oven. An eight-year-old kid can teach a four-year-old kid to use a microwave oven. It's just scientific fact. Don't worry about your kids. They'll be fine. You have work to do. Get on those phones, knock on those doors, and tell them Al Franken sent you."
Franken returned briefly to the stage to vamp with Bernie Sanders supporter Sarah Silverman as they asked for money and later as they stretched her speech, awaiting a performance of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Paul Simon.
Franken, a Harvard graduate, five-time Emmy winner and best-selling author, was once a familiar face on TV beyond committee hearing rooms as one of the original writer/performers on Saturday Night Live. As character Stuart Smalley, Franken sought daily affirmation that could have served as a campaign slogan: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me.”
Even then, Franken held a Senate seat — albeit only in character as the late, famously bow-tied Illinois progressive Sen. Paul Simon, who he resembled, though not in the Tina Fey/Sarah Palin doppelganger way.
Franken told B&C in an interview several years back that his SNL humor was not meant to be partisan, but that view changed when he exited the series in 1995. He took aim at the political right in his series of popular books.