This year it’s “zing.” You know what I mean. Commentators, to prove they are insiders not just another no-nothing blow hard, have suddenly en mass adopted the term “zinger” when discussing presidential debates.
Later we will need a university study to tell us how these terms spring up overnight. But for now we have to see how this affects the campaign.
Sadly both the contenders, trying so hard to present themselves effectively rather than authentically, lack the essential ingredient for an effective zinger. It’s not the words; it’s the timing. Both the Republican and the Democrat lack comic timing.
And both men make fundamental mistakes when it comes to humor at work. Barack Obama, according to an AP analysis, relies on self-depreciating humor. He makes fun of his big ears and stress -induced gray hairs. Crowds are accepting the depreciating and missing the humor.
Mitt Romney depends on subtle humor that relies entirely on meaning with no play on words. People don’t laugh because they don’t know he’s trying to be funny. AP gives the example of Romney mentioning he was a governor but “did not inhale.” This is a complex reference to opposing big government. It is based on a Bill Clinton remark from 1992 on an entirely different subject. No go. Romney needs to signal his humor more. He does not understand why his complicated one liners worked on underlings when he was a CEO but not on political crowds who do not share background.
One comedian offers a pretty good reason why Americans like to laugh at their leaders sometimes.
“Humor is cathartic. It’s very important to us as American people and to our leaders,” said Will Durst. “When we see them enjoying it, I think it gives them hope.”
Even though it’s popular to talk about the entertaining snappy quip, give up on hearing a zinger from one of these two. They are not capable.