Matt Sienkiewicz and Nick Marx try to do a couple things in their new book, That’s Not Funny: How the Right Makes Comedy Work for Them. For starters, they hope to show their liberal readers — and the book is clearly written for those on the left — that there is such a thing as “right-wing comedy.” It is not an “obvious oxymoron,” as many on the left assume.

Conservatives’ “post-9/11 blunders” made them easy targets for the left-leaning (and increasingly left-wing) Saturday Night Live, Stephen Colbert, and David Letterman. While comedy and “left-wing oppositionality” seemed...

Matt Sienkiewicz and Nick Marx try to do a couple things in their new book, That’s Not Funny: How the Right Makes Comedy Work for Them. For starters, they hope to show their liberal readers — and the book is clearly written for those on the left — that there is such a thing as “right-wing comedy.” It is not an “obvious oxymoron,” as many on the left assume.

Conservatives’ “post-9/11 blunders” made them easy targets for the left-leaning (and increasingly left-wing) Saturday Night Live, Stephen Colbert, and David Letterman. While comedy and “left-wing oppositionality” seemed a “blissful marriage,” there is no reason to assume the “eternal, exclusive nature of that union.” The rising popularity of libertarian comedians like Joe Rogan and Greg Gutfeld show otherwise.

Liberals don’t find these people funny in part because they live in a media echo chamber. And because of this, attempts at humor on the right are seen simply as examples of outrage. It is both “comforting” and a sign of “good taste,” Sienkiewicz and Marx write, to view the right at humorless. It allows “everyone from pundits to professors to gain cultural capital by assuring fellow liberals that they are the only ones who know their way around a joke.”

I don’t find right-wing comedy funny either, quite frankly. Lord knows I’ve tried, but I don’t care at all for the Babylon Bee. It seems to me to be entirely lacking in subtlety and wit, the touchstones of satire. Gutfeld is a bore and oddly grotesque.

But comedy on the left is equally bad. Saturday Night Live and David Letterman used to be funny when they understood that their primary job was to make people laugh. Then Letterman got duller and duller as he played the role of pseudo-journalist supposedly speaking truth to power to increasingly obscure political opponents. John Oliver is as bad or worse than Gutfeld, and Stephen Colbert has lost his groove.

Why do Sienkiewicz and Marx — this is the second thing they hope to show in the book — want to convince readers that the right can be funny, at least to some people? Because comedy is dangerous. There is nothing more dangerous to those in power than satire and nothing more effective at uniting people than a joke. Sienkiewicz and Marx write that they do not think “that listening to Joe Rogan or chuckling at The Babylon Bee is likely to turn a listener into a fascist” — good to know! — but right-wing comedy does provide “cover and succor to those inclined toward the ugliest of ideologies.”

Oh, dear. Talk about slippery slopes. Or maybe just a joke all its own.

It is also at odds with one of the more interesting proposals in the book — that the left should stop over-policing speech and be more open to right-of-center comedians on the national platforms they still control. “If liberals believe that only they possess the power of comedy, it is tempting to over-police humorists in order to reduce the risk of insensitivity,” they write. Instead, they should “foster the freest possible space for the best comedic talents to work in. Understanding the potential appeal of conservative comedy should motivate the liberal world to be excited for, and forgiving of, good faith comedic experimentation, even if it pushes against the mores of the moment.”

This is primarily a political point. Allowing people to make fun of the absurd ideas or practices of a group or mock its missteps keeps them in the fold. It lets them blow off steam and serves as a check against even more absurd ideas and practices. Banning this kind of speech will only drive people away.

The real concern for Sienkiewicz and Marx is that comedians and writers who work at left-leaning shows and media companies will be pushed out by woke social media mobs and spineless CEOs and straight into the arms of right-of-center media companies and publications. The increasingly extreme political agenda of the left is as humorless as it gets, and an early sign that your cultural hegemony is in danger is when the joke starts being on you.