So Long, Dennis


CNBC is killing the Dennis Miller show so that the cable channel can air business-related stuff right through the end of the West Coast business day. Or so the memo on the change says.

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  1. What happened to McEnroe? His show rocked.

  2. This sucks, but his ratings were all the way at the bottom. I doubt Dennis Miller didn’t expect it to happen at some point.

    According to the ratings numbers Drudge prints weekly, Miller’s viewer numbers were consistently 100,000 per show. I’m just wondering if there’s 100,000 people watching those goddamn home improvement shows where they a perfectly dingy house and do stuff like hang spray painted gnomes along the porch. Jesus, what a world.

  3. His show was all right (I still prefer The Daily Show), but does anyone remember the first few days it aired, when he didn’t have an audience? There was little that could have been more uncomfortable than when he would go through the news the way he does, without an audience’s reaction.

  4. “What happened to McEnroe? His show rocked.”

    Well if you’d kept watching it might still rock, now mightn’t it?


  5. This sucks, but his ratings were all the way at the bottom.

    True, but the same could be said for every other CNBC prime time program. No one watches that network at night. Miller was probably one of stronger shows ratings-wise.

    Didn’t seem like Miller was always on the top of his game in this gig, but I don’t know how news junkies could possibly prefer the screech-fest over on Hannity & Colmes at 9.

  6. H&C is one of those shows that simply bad for America.

  7. I’ve always enjoyed Miller, but there is a limited audience for esoteric allusions and rants that feature multi-syllabic words. Also, Miller lost me when he became a shill for the Bushies.

  8. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Miller was only marginally funny in the first place, IMHO, and has just become increasingly loathsome.

  9. Dennis Miller built his persona around an insightful, shrewd, skeptical criticism of the world around him. If his political commentary had been based on this persona, it would have been fun to watch. Remember when he asked Al Gore if Tipper rolled good doobies?

    But after September 11, he sort of morphed into a moonie-eyed schoolgirl whenever he talked about George Bush, The Troops, America…no fun at all.

  10. I don’t know how news junkies could possibly prefer the screech-fest over on Hannity & Colmes at 9.

    There should be a special key on my keyboard, so anytime someone mentions Hannity, I can press the key and my laptop will automatically bang out Mencken’s quote about how nobody ever went broke, yada yada yada…

  11. digamma, thank you for making me spit coffee all over my keyboard, dammit.

  12. Oh, well… more time to do NetZero and L’Oreal commercials, I guess.

  13. Lets hope they cancel and publicly execute Donnie Deutsch

  14. “…there is a limited audience for esoteric allusions and rants that feature multi-syllabic words.” Are you shittin’ me? Dennis Miller is the biggest poseur of the last decade and a half. His SNL bit was good because he at least tried to be relevant to the audience. For years now, he just tries to use the biggest word possible for every occasion. But, to be fair, he is at least generally correct in his usage of ‘esoteric allusions and multi-syllabic words.’

  15. Digamma-Yeah, I saw that episode of family guy last night, too.

  16. What joe said. Also, remember when Nick Gillespie was on Miller’s show and Miller patronized Willie Brown so much that it was embarrassing?

    But Nick was really engaging and interesting. Ya know, Nick really should have his own show. Hey CNBC…

  17. I think Nick’s really good on TV, too.

    Must obey the jacket. Must obey the jacket…

  18. Dennis Miller (On TV): I don’t want to go on a rant, here, but America’s foreign policy makes about as much sense as Beowulf having sex with Robert Fulton at the first battle of Antietam.
    I mean when a neo-conservative defenestrates it’s like Raskolnikov filibuster deoxymonohydroxinate…

    Peter Griffin (watching TV): What the hell does rant mean?

  19. Dennis Miller built his persona around an insightful, shrewd, skeptical criticism of the world around him.

    Huh? Dennis Miller’s persona is totally encapsulated thusly, “I remember everything I was forced to read in high-school”. Furthermore, while his use of multi-syllabic words may be grammatically correct, they are witless and only serve to obscure the meaninglessness of what he’s saying. His employment of esoteric allusions is equally inappropriate.

  20. Damn that liberal media for taking a war supporter off the air! 😉

  21. I don’t want to get off on a rant here… but Dennis Miller’s best was when he was on HBO and allowed to swear up a storm like that Tourettes attorney on “LA Law”. His CNBC stint was more like the illegitimate love child of “The McLaughlin Group” and “Saturday Night Live”, producing a midly enjoyable skit with just enough highbrow intellectual discussion to justify airing it on a GE-owned news channel that bascially became the illegitimate redheaded stepshild after MSNBC came out.

    I would hope that HBO welcomes him back into the fold, but at the same time his ranting perch is already occupied by Bill Maher, who basically puts on the same kind of show, only in reverse order, putting his rant at the end. His drift to the left is only matched by Miller’s drift to the right. Maher has basically become the Anti-Miller.

    By the way… new rule: Don’t put up tactical displays of the country unless you plan on letting NATO use your set as a new strategic defense center. You’re giving comic relief, not orchestrating a pre-emptive strike.

    Now if the folks at HBO were smart, they’d welcome Miller back for thirty minutes and shrink Maher’s show to thirty minutes. Let Miller to the warmup with his rant and, and have Maher finish with his. HBO would end up with an hour worth of programming that would be somewhat informative but also quite comical and edgy, not to mentioned politically balanced.

  22. David_2,

    Your suggestion makes a great deal of sense. Naturally, you must be destroyed for the common good. Please step into the termination booth.

  23. David 2-Good idea, but why not let them go at it crossfire style?

  24. Say what you want about his show or his politics, but I can tell you as THE ONLY STAND-UP COMIC posting comments on “Hit & Run”, Dennis Miller’s talent is unbelievable. And I mean that as a compliment.

    The man is worshipped by stand-up comics nation-wide (particularly NYC, somewhat LA) for reasons that are thoroughly justified.

    His success, moreover, is a testament to his ability to relate often esoteric and obscure themes/ideas/punchlines to the average audience. The only other comics able to do with any moderate level of skill are Bill Hicks, Dough Stanhope, Greg Giraldo and sundry other brilliant comics none of you have heard of. Comics are successful for a variety of reasons, but the comic who does what Miller did and is in some ways still doing is achieving perhaps the most arduous task and highest ideal in all of stand-up.

    For people who’ve never taken the stage to perform comedy once in your deeply important and introspective lives, some you sure profess to have aplomb over an enigmatic and enormously complex phenomenon.

    Pronouncements about Miller’s talent (or alleged lack thereof) might seem as assessments only of him and retain no wider implications, but that outlook merely indicates an abysmal ignorance of the mechanics and artistry of comedy.

    And no, his show was not particularly good.

  25. Luke- I saw “Mr. Miller Goes to Washington.”

    No doubt he has talent. Only problem is CNBC wanted him to be Hannity with a sense of humor.

    At that he failed. By the way, what happened to the meenkey?

  26. Given that there are almost three hundred million people in America, it’s hard to see how any program could be watched by *fewer* than 100,000 people. I mean, just people whose dials get stuck could probably get you up to 100,000…

  27. For those of you who perhaps like the Dennis Miller show’s premise, but not the execution there may be something down the road for you.

    Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, a show I liked but also had its fair share of problems, was cancelled as most people know. However, Greg Giraldo, who was one of 5 regular panelists, just shot his own pilot for Comedy Central to be a Tough Crowd v. 2.0.

    In other words, what Quinn lacked in polished articulation and to be honest, knowledge of the issues, Giraldo is expected to deliver. He is a Columbia University and Harvard Law graduate who quit one of Manhattan’s most prestigious firms to take up comedy. He is extremely intelligent, very clever, witty and has a calming, pleasant demeanor.

    Let’s hope it gets picked up.

  28. David_2: Hey, I might actually watch that.

    Miller has been to the right, not full-bore, but he was giving free passes to the cops for busting heads and stuff like that since before 9-11. Maher, he always pisses me off, because if he had any integrity, he’d really commit to being libertarian instead of giving free passes to coercive measures to make society “better” and giving cheap shots to conservatives, all for entertainment’s sake.

    Now I understand that Miller and Maher are entertainers, and people would probably start totally tuning them out if they actually solidified and rationalised their politics, but it still irks me. I guess I’m too much of a purist…

  29. “Pronouncements about Miller’s talent (or alleged lack thereof) might seem as assessments only of him and retain no wider implications, but that outlook merely indicates an abysmal ignorance of the mechanics and artistry of comedy.”

    or it’s a pronouncement of taste.

    you make the call!

  30. If it’s a pronouncement of taste, the answer is “I don’t like Miller’s comedy.”

    However, if it’s a pronouncement of talent, the answer is “Dennis Miller is not funny.”

    The first I’m willing to entertain as possible, but not the second.

  31. Dennis Miller’s problem is he went too far away from comedy itself. His HBO show had socio-political barkings & whatnot but it was still funny, his CNBC show wasn’t.

    Same thing that got Politically Incorrect cancelled. I haven’t seen Bill Maher’s new show tho’, so I dunno how that came out. I like the idea behind those kind of shows because unlike the shoutfests on FoxNews & whatnot they don’t take themselves seriously.

  32. Luke: I have nothing against either Miller or Maher. They’re both talented. In fact, I’m a big fan of Miller’s earlier work. His rants on HBO were the inspriation behind much of my online writing as well as my own audio rants. Heck, I even enjoyed his brief stint with Monday Night Football! I was just diappointed in how his most recent show came out.

  33. The HBO comedy special he put out in April 2003 was a side of Miller that I didn’t know existed, and I was not impressed. At that very moment, he ceased to be the witty, take-no-prisoners comic I had admired for years, and turned into a younger version of my father, albeit with more expensive clothing and a larger vocabulary.

  34. Luke,

    Isn’t what’s funny a function of taste? When I hear someone say “Dennis Miller isn’t funny,” I think there’s an unspoken “to me” on the end of that. I know, stand-up is a complex art form, and I’m actually interested in the nuts & bolts of it (loved the Seinfield movie), but in the end, it comes down to “funny” or “not funny.” It’s hard to consider someone a good stand-up if you don’t find them funny.

  35. Personally, I think the level of joe’s humor has been slipping in quality since the election.

    And as for Rick Barton, well, I hardly even recognize his posts anymore without his old “Kiplinger Letter” stylings.

  36. Steve–

    Your questions are good.

    But let’s walk ourselves through this a little: are we suggesting that everything is subjective? Probably not; we’d probably both agree that laughing is a distinctly different action than crying or sleeping.

    So, what is it that causes us to laugh? Why do people laugh at Carrot Top and Lenny Bruce (although probably not the same group)? Are we to suggest that Carrot Top and Bruce are both “funny”? Even then, what does that mean? How does one become “funnier” than another? Is it solely audience reaction? Where does that leave Andy Kaufman?

    There’s clearly something to laughing and comedy that make it more than subjectivity. Saying “I like vanilla more than chocolate” is not that same as saying “Carrot Top is funnier than Lenny Bruce.” It is, however, the same as saying “To me, Carrot Top is funnier than Lenny Bruce.”

    Then we take the person saying this and drown their sorry ass in the tub for heresy.

    P.S. As a side note, “audience reaction” is the least reliable method for determing what is and is not funny. And that’s an objective fact.

  37. I generally liked Miller’s show, and watched it most nights (mostly for ‘The Varsity’, which could be very entertaining). However, I believe it suffered from two major problems:

    1. The writing staff. I suspect CNBC just couldn’t attract a top tier of comedy writers. Whatever the reason, a lot of the jokes that were written for him were pretty bad. Miller needs writers who can write for his voice, and he only had that sporadically on his show.

    2. Miller’s turn to conservatism had some rough edges. Occasionally he could say something cringe-inducing. I suspect it’s because he doesn’t yet have a handle on his own philosophy, so occasionally he’d walk off the cliff and say something over the line or express a sentiment that no one particularly likes. Or pehaps he knows his philosophy, but it’s somewhat odious.

    Some things really bug me about Miller. One of them is his obvious misogyny. Not only does he call his female guests ‘doll’ and ‘babe’, but he reacts with astonishment when some of his female guests display actual intellect, and on occasion he has very rudely attacked a female guest who disagreed with him in a way he wouldn’t with a man.

    Another annoyance is his insistence on using the diminutive form for people’s names. “Chuckie”, “Babs”, etc. I do believe his heart is in the right place – he’s trying to cut through the pretension that surrounds Hollywood and Washington, but some times it really does sound demeaning, and it leads to the occasionally uncomfortable moments when a guest slaps him down for it (as Christopher Hitchens did when Miller kept calling him “Chris” or “Chrissie” after Hitchens specifically asked to be called Christopher).

    So perhaps Miller needs a tune-up. File away a few of those rough edges, ramp up the humor a bit and stop treating the Republicans and Bush with such kid gloves (I’m a Bush supporter but Jesus, if you can’t laugh at your own side, take a break), get a bit of balance back into the humor, and come out swinging for the next round. Miller’s too talented to fade away. We’ll see him somewhere again soon, I hope.

  38. By the way, has CNBC *ever* had a successful talk show ever since they started running non-financial evening talk shows in the early 1990s (after they bought the bankrupt FNN)?

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