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Did you hear the one about Barack Obama and ... ?

July 25, 2008 |  8:24 am

Barack Obama may have achieved a breakthrough with his tour of the Middle East and Europe: It looks like he’s finally becoming a better target for gag writers.

Until recently, it has been tough to get a laugh about Obama on the late-night talk shows. As a New York Times story  this month put it, “No true punch lines have landed."

“Why? The reason cited by most of those involved in the shows is that a fundamental factor is so far missing in Mr. Obama: There is no comedic 'take' on him, nothing easy to turn to for an easy laugh, like allegations of Bill Clinton’s womanizing or President Bush’s goofy bumbling or Al Gore’s robotic persona.”

Joke writers also say racial sensitivities may have preempted humor about the Illinois senator.

A recent Politico piece made some of the same points, quoting political pundit Landon Parvin as saying, “Hope isn’t funny. Change isn’t funny.”

Politico noted that even jokes ostensibly about Obama have tended to mention the Illinois senator mainly as a way of making fun of his avid followers or his Republican rival, John McCain.

But amid his grandiose trip of recent days –- a tour that included everything from sinking a three-point basketball shot in Iraq to drawing more than 200,000 people for a speech in Germany -– maybe Obama is drawing more comedic attention.

Political humorist Daniel Kurtzman compiled jokes from late-night television talk shows, including these:

"After a quick meet-and-greet with King Abdullah, Obama was off to Israel, where he made a quick stop at the manger in Bethlehem where he was born." -- Jon Stewart

"It was kind of surprising; they really love Obama in Germany. He's like a rock star over there. It's impressive until you realize that David Hasselhoff is also like a rock star over there." -- Jimmy Kimmel

"Hey, did you see Barack Obama playing basketball with our troops in Iraq? Did you see that one shot he made from 40 feet? Forty feet. Let me tell you something. If shooting baskets now is a requirement to be president, a white guy may never have that job again." -- Jay Leno

-- Stuart Silverstein