Why should the drudgery of your day job running New Jersey or its largest city keep you from chasing your dream of being a sketch comedian? That’s only one of the questions posed by a recently released video starring Gov. Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Paid for by the state Republican Party, the video was released at a legislative correspondents’ banquet last week and successfully promoted through social media. It shows Christie wondering if he could raise his profile (though one wonders how much higher it could get) by helping state police respond to emergencies. Suddenly, Booker appears and is dispatched to assist in several dramatic rescues — much as he actually did by leading a neighbor out of her burning house a few weeks ago.
The mayor continues his unlikely heroics, repeating “I got this” as Christie growls “Booker!” (à la Jerry Seinfeld’s “Newman!”). The bit concludes (somewhat nonsensically) with Christie interrupting Booker’s phone call from Mitt Romney regarding the vice presidential nomination, saying, “I got this.”
The pair deserve credit for being funnier than the average politician, even if that’s not saying much — and even if the video handily distracted from new revenue figures blowing a humorless hole in Christie’s budget.
For all its skillful timing, though, the video also reveals why politicians are better targets of comedy than practitioners. Humor tends to be deprecating, often self-deprecating, putting it at odds with the perpetual aggrandizement — often self-aggrandizement — of politics. Christie’s video begins with advisers discussing his great poll numbers and ends with a reference to his being (ostensibly) courted for the second-highest office in the land; its central “jokes,” then, are that Booker is a hero and Christie is beloved.
This has been touted as a refreshing incidence of bipartisanship. If that’s so, the bipartisan project Christie and Booker have agreed on consists entirely of drawing positive attention to themselves.