Alan Stuart 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 Nineties
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
. Interestingly, as a Senator, he's been rather mild-mannered, level-headed, and kind of sheepish. It's actually kind of endearing.
(and recurring SNL
character), Stuart Smalley, is in the Trope Pantheon
as the Demigod of Self-Esteem
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.'"
- 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.
- 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:
- 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: Subverted 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.
- Strawman Political: Republican pundits tend to become this.
- 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.
- 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.