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Creator / Al Franken


Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born May 21, 1951) is an American comedy writer, political satirist, and now Senator from Minnesota.

First known as a writer and bit player on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s...then returning in the 1980s when Lorne Michaels decided to come back to save his show and again in the 1990s when the show was once again on top — before its decline in the mid-1990s (Franken is the show's longest-running feature player as of 2011), in The '90s he also became a bestselling author, with a strong liberal-political bent. He's also appeared in a few, largely forgettable, films, and hosted a Radio Talk Show on the short-lived Air America network.

Most recently he became the Junior Senator from Minnesota in a frighteningly protracted election. His reelection was more of a Curb-Stomp Battle, him beating his opponent by ten points. Interestingly, as a Senator, he's been rather mild-mannered, level-headed, and kind of sheepish. It's actually kind of endearing.

Oh, and he can freehand draw an accurate map of the United States of America from memory.

His books include:

Tropes associated with Franken include:

  • All Myths Are True: He admits he got the infamous "Jew call" Short explanation  in Lies, though he may have been joking, given the way he goes about it.
    "To tell you the truth, I got the Jew call...from former New York mayor Ed Koch. 'Al', he said, 'Don't go to work on the 23rd day of Elul.'"
  • Arch-Enemy: Bill O'Reilly. See below, and also here.
  • Badass
    • He is a Quick Draw champion in real life. In Lies, he claims he is 3rd ranked in the US, in response to Bill O'Reilly saying that in the Wild West he'd have shot Franken in a Showdown at High Noon.
    • He also managed to calmly talk down some very angry Tea Partiers. Compared to many of his colleagues who would have difficult shouting matches with them, Franken spoke calmly with them, having a very intelligent debate.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Franken describing the failures of then-NBC president Fred Silverman on SNL's "Weekend Update" segment in 1980, in what came to be known as the "Limo for the Lame-o" affair.
  • Bleached Underpants: He had to disavow a great deal of his earlier, more ribald work to run for the Senate.
  • Boomerang Bigot / You Are What You Hate: Wrote a book called Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot mocking him for his then-status as overweight,note  but Franken himself is a bit on the pudgy side.
  • The Cameo: He's been a guest star on his friend (and fellow Minnesotan) Garrison Keillor's radio show A Prairie Home Companion where he's done pretty good impression of Henry Kissinger
  • Could Say It, But...
    • The so-called "Kidding on the Square" version is closely associated with Franken, particularly in the Lying Liars era.
    • The relative lack of this in his political career is mostly thanks to his getting dressed down by his fellow senators when he tried cracking wise on the floor.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: His Rush Limbaugh is... book has a section involving a number of Republican figures (among them Limbaugh, Gingrich, Buchanan) fighting in Vietnam and calls them chickenhawks for allegedly warmongering but not fighting in wars themselves. Putting aside that the Republicans weren't in power at the Presidency and the person who was at the time, Bill Clinton, who Franken supported, was the one who declared war in the Balkans and Somalia but refused to enlist in the draft, not only that but one of the people Franken mentions and lumps in with the others as "warmongering", Pat Buchanan, has been against every war since World War I. Buchanan not only doesn't fit the pro-war stereotype Franken was trying to push, he's less pro-war than either Franken or Clinton.
  • The Danza: Al Franken was Al Freundlich on Lateline.
  • The Eponymous Show: The Al Franken Show, previously known as The O'Franken Factor.
  • Game Show Appearance: Three times on Jeopardy!. The first time, a category was "SNL Presidential Players." After running the category, he leaned over to Keith Olbermann and said that he wrote the skits featured in four of the five clues (likely the only one he didn't was Robert Smigel's "X-Presidents").
  • The Gunslinger: Type D, as indicated under the Badass entry above.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Why Not Me?, which depicts a fictionalized version of Franken running for and gaining the presidency, was written as a farce back in 1998. Ten years later, Franken started a political career for real and became a U.S. senator for Minnesota. Now, some pundits are actually trying to encourage Hillary Clinton to make Franken her vice presidential candidate against Donald Trump.
  • Jerkass/Jerkass Fašade: Take your pick. Up to Eleven either way.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: Is famous for this. His Rush Limbaugh book is filled with disclaimers of sorts to the effect that all the fat jokes, etc., are "satire". He then began his forward to Lies with a major one:
    Thanks to Team Franken, you can rest assured that everything in this book is true. Either that, or it's a joke. If you come across something that doesn't ring true, you probably just missed a hilarious joke and should blame yourself rather than me or Team Franken.
  • Lets See You Do Better: He has probably received vituperations of this sort from various factions. His response was to get himself elected to the United States Senate.
  • Momma's Boy: Inverted real-life example: Franken admits that in his childhood, he cheered for Nixon in the 1960 presidential election because he was fonder of his father, then a registered Republican (they both switched four years later), than he was of his mother, a registered Democrat. Al's older brother, meanwhile, cheered for Kennedy, which he attributes to "a visceral aversion to Nixon."
  • Mood Whiplash: A particularly bad case in Lies. Chapter 25 details how the Republicans exploited Paul Wellstone's death for political gains, and ends on a bittersweet note. Chapter 26? Franken goes to the White House Correspondents Dinner and trolls all the righties there. Uh-huh.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Briefly discussed in Lies; one of Franken's friends believes that Strom Thurmond may have died as much as 3 years before the book was published, and the GOP is pursuing this strategy so the Democratic governor of South Carolina doesn't appoint a Democrat to fill the seat.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Al writes in Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot that his research assistant Geoff Rodkey contracts Lyme disease and diesnote . Many of Al's readers apparently did not get the joke, and thought Geoff was really dead. A few sent Al letters telling him what a horrible person he was, working his assistant to death. In the paperback edition of Rush, he assures his readers that Geoff is alive and well (wrapping up this addendum by once again announcing that Geoff has died).
  • Stealth Parody: The title of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot is alleged by Franken to be a deliberate reference to Limbaugh's style of debate largely involving (as far as Franken's concerned) hurling personal insults at his opponents.
  • Strawman Political: Republican pundits tend to become this.
  • Streisand Effect: Fox News filed a lawsuit over Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, claiming that the book's subtitle "A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" was an infringement on their trademarked slogan, requesting an injunction against publishing the book with that title. Not only was the lawsuit laughed out court (it is long-established case law that copyrights cannot block satire), but the case gave Franken a huge amount of free publicity and greatly increased sales of the book.
  • Take That:
    • "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot" could be interpreted as this.
    • Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
  • What Could Have Been: Franken bashing Silverman caused him to not be the executive producer of SNL's sixth season...which, as it now stands, is considered an Old Shame due to how weak and humorless it was under the direction of Jean Doumanian. (On the other hand, if Franken had taken the position, it's likely that Lorne Michaels wouldn't have returned, leading to some excellent seasons later on, and also fairly likely that Franken would not have gone on to his career in punditry and then on to the Senate.)
  • Zero-G Spot: Deconstructed in Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot in response to something on the subject Newt Gingrich wrote in one of his books.