Barry Crimmins on Dennis Miller (The Boston Phoenix)

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Mon Mar 10 14:17:11 PST 2003

COMIC TURN Dennis Miller scales the Rushmore of wrong-headedness BY BARRY CRIMMINS ------------------------------------------------------

MILLER: not so funny?


I have received several e-mails about Dennis Miller spewing hatred on The Tonight Show a few days ago. From what I’m told, he expressed great contempt for the French and total disdain for the well-being of innocents in Iraq. I believe the letters because I have seen him express similar Jurassic views on other programs. We thought he had bottomed out when he became the sportscasting equivalent of William Shatner/lounge singer, but it now appears he won’t be happy until he gets a show on the Fox News Channel.

I used to write for Miller in 1992, when he had a syndicated talk show. During the program’s one season, Miller went from endorsing Jerry Brown to becoming a big Ross Perot supporter. A political impulse-buyer, his ideological cannon was never lashed very securely to the deck. Over the years, the cannon somehow became lodged on the starboard side of the vessel. Each time Miller receives a paycheck, he seems to take it to a bank further to the right of the last one. And now, more than a decade since I wrote my last joke for the man, I can only watch in stupefaction as this once hip and inside comic completes his transformation into a lout whose act sounds as if it were ghostwritten by George Jessel. Actually, that’s not fair ... to George Jessel.

Dennis Miller was always decent to me. He gave me a chance, and I appreciated it, but he has become so obstinately wrong of late that I am left with no choice but to comment.

His attempt to style himself as a "Hollywood rebel" by completely sucking up to the ultimate "suits," which is to say the ones in Washington, is self-aggrandizing and pitiful. But then, tough as he speaks, Miller never met a powerful and/or connected guest he didn’t suck up to. So it’s predictable that he would court the braying repressionists who have seized control of the White House. Now we must listen to Miller blather insufferably as he refers with devotion to George W. Bush with the ever-possessive term "my president." After all, W. must be good if he belongs to that self-styled Hollywood rebel Dennis Miller! Right? Miller is so egotistical that he thinks that by referring to Bush again and again as "my president," he somehow legitimizes W.’s odious path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He believes his verbal consecration will make us forget that the little bastard stole the White House. To do otherwise would be to risk having Dennis Miller label us "un-hip." Heaven forfend!

No longer the youthful and sassy anchor of SNL’s "Weekend Update" of all those years ago, Miller has become a national father figure. And what a lousy dad he is. Listening to his act is no longer something we look forward to; it is more like getting stuck in the back seat of your pop’s station wagon while he lectures you on "Americanism" through 30 miles of heavy traffic. In front of your friends.

But give Miller credit; he has accomplished something that almost no one before him has ever been able to do. He has actually become so vile that he is not even suitable company in Hollywood. He can now make a game-show host shudder in revulsion. This works well for the self-involved Miller. Why waste time considering the true horror and long-term ramifications of the violence he so blindly supports when we could instead be focusing on the assault of cold shoulders he has sustained on Rodeo Drive? Yeah, Dennis, enough of this massacre-of-innocents stuff, let’s talk about you.

As cocksure as Miller is in his new political alliance, he’d better watch himself, he could be headed toward a 21st-century version of Hitler’s "Night of the Long Knives." So long as church-state integrationist John Ashcroft is the attorney general, a purge of the potty-mouthed Miller is never a distant possibility.

The beauty of Dennis Miller is that everything he’s doing is on tape. What he has been saying will be available for review by people for a long, long time. He has carved a place for himself on the Rushmore of wrong-headedness, and there he will stay for years to come, a glowering, reactionary oaf for the ages. He’s ready for his close-up, Mr. Murdoch.

Visit Barry Crimmins's website at

Issue Date: February 27, 2003

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