What The Huck is Going on With Mike Huckabee’s Show?

What do you get when you staff a late night comedy show with a host who can’t write jokes and goes to bed by 7?

Huckabee. (Hold for applause. Ignore crickets.)

Former Fox News host and Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has always fancied himself a comedian but his comedy career’s always been hamstrung by his utter unfunny. Imagine comedy created by an algorithm of old Bazooka Joe comic strips combined with perennial onion breath. That’s basically Huckabee’s Twitter feed: rambling set-ups with ancient references and soul-deflating payoffs followed by at least one sentence trying to explain the “joke.”

But lucky for him, Huckabee’s brain-rotting boomer shtick kills with middle-aged conservative Christians, and the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) lets him play the late night comedian he’s always dreamed of being.

Huckabee is like the Tonight Show if it were hosted by Ted Knight’s character in Caddyshack. A live band plays in the corner, just like on Colbert and Fallon, with a bandleader ready to sell Huckabee’s punchlines with howls of fake laughter. And smack in the middle of it is Huckabee, MAGA Johnny Carson himself. The result is beyond parody. The only way to consume Huckabee is watching people make fun of it.

Sure, Huckabee’s jokes are bad. But his utter lack of timing makes them extraordinarily bad.

Huckabee delivers monologues and skewers the news with takes as spicy as plain yogurt. He takes questions from anonymous Twitter users concerned about subjects like abortion and those kooky socialist Democrats. He showcases conservative Christian stand-up comedians (of which there are far more than you might expect). And it’s shot in front of a live studio audience of middle aged white people who are Christian enough to relate to extremely niche jokes about Methodists puzzled by Baptists. Nonetheless, they seem pained and puzzled by Huckabee’s attempts at humor. They seem impatient for Huckabee to end the comedy and get to what they came for: praising Trump and clowning the libs.

Despite the talk show trappings, the program follows a conservative media script. Huckabee features conservative politicians and religious activists on the show, including his daughter, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (surprisingly softball as hell). He spotlights victims of fake problems and decries the nonexistent injustice. Interviewing a farmer who hosted Revolutionary War reenactments on his property until his conservative beliefs scared away school field trips, Huckabee frames the issue as censorship, not a market correction. It didn’t make sense, but the audience ate up the idea that wholesome American history lessons were being suppressed by the tyrannical forces of liberalism.

The show’s a platform for Huckabee’s Christian fundamentalism and conservative dreck gussied up with grandpa jokes. Really, the only difference between Huckabee and most conservative media is that Huckabee thinks he’s funny.

But awful as it is, Huckabee could stand take his show a few steps further. If he ripped off Gallagher and smashed watermelons labeled “liberal indoctrination” his audience would applaud for days. Or if he wanted to reach a new “urban” audience, he could trade his charcoal gray suits for a Katt Williams green-on-green velvet sport coat and Mayor of Whoville-hairstyle. Or he could trot out some old school Sarah Silverman ironic racist bits. Except with Huckabee, of course, they might be little less ironic. Optics don’t matter to someone living out their own personal fantasy, no matter how brutally unfunny it is.