Audiences who line up to see the “Freedom to Laugh” tour must do a double or triple take.
It’s one thing to expect right-leaning laughs from the event, billed as a MAGA friendly affair. It’s another to actually hear the jokes themselves.
We’ve become accustomed to comedians trashing President Donald Trump, the GOP and anyone who dares support any combination of the two. We’re hard-wired to expect it after years of comedy indoctrination.
It’s why the “Freedom to Laugh” special, just added to the Fox Nation streaming service, is more than a badly needed alternative. It’s both long overdue and mostly worth the wait for those who can’t see the tour live.
Three right-leaning comics -- Michael Loftus, Brian Haner and Reno Collier -- offer a combination of political satire, songs and old-school stand up. Loftus goes first, delivering a rascally defense of our Commander in Chief.
President Donald Trump keeps the world off balance by being so darn unpredictable, Loftus says, bobbin’ and weavin’ like a fighter mid rope-a-dope.
The comedian and podcaster’s segment starts slowly, and we fear he may detour to the dreaded “clapter” zone, where the Late Night humorists roam. Loftus quickly rebounds, giving a comical history lesson along the way.
He hits some ripe targets, including twice failed Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. He also delights in calling us a nation of righteous hillbillies, taking the term back with affection. He somehow ties the American Revolution to the country’s victory in the Space Race without leaving his Redneck Theorem behind.
“We have a car on the moon. That’s how hillbilly we are,” he says. “And, in hillbilly fashion, we left it there.”
And it’s a safe bet “Saturday Night Live” won’t trot out a Christopher Walken take on Donald Trump.
Brian Haner comes next, a guitar slinger who added comedy to his repertoire after years as a session player. The evolution suits him well. His comic songs prove tuneful and sharp, with nary a wasted verse or chorus.
He hoped to pen some funny lyrics to poke at Ms. Woke Herself, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, he says. Instead, he quotes her verbatim.
It’s a reminder how today’s comics willfully avoid AOC material, and what a treasure trove they’re missing.
“Everything is extreme, everything is a meme … ” Haner sings. “With a Green Deal straight from Al Gore, there’s no fact that she won’t ignore…”
Blue Collar Comedy Tour veteran Reno Collier caps the evening, delivering the most straightforward set of the trio. He’s not bashing Speaker Pelosi or MSNBC. He’s just cracking wise, with an occasional bomb lobbed at Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Collier’s routine proves the weakest of the three, but his avuncular stage presence makes it go down smoothly.
The Chicago crowd that came out for this leg of the tour may have expected a non-stop political assault. That’s not what’s in store for Fox Nation subscribers. These comedians aren’t obsessed with politics. They just reserve the right to lean right on occasion.
“Freedom to Laugh?” Maybe a better title would be, “Freedom to Laugh at the Other Side for a Change.”