Roy Gilbert

Kamala Harris Bombs at the Naval Academy

www.wsj.com

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Ms. Harris’s attempt at gender-inclusive, environment-friendly comedy elicited an appreciative and raucous peal of laughter—but only from her. The rest of the audience looked like they wanted to crawl under the nearest solar panel.

To be fair, It’s not easy to make culturally compliant humor. The best humor is often countercultural, even downright offensive. You can’t be woke and funny.

Picture the scene: a roomful of the vice president’s finest young staffers all wielding their critical-theory degrees from Sarah Lawrence and Amherst, brainstorming lines for an unfamiliar audience of brave young fighters.

“They’re Marines, right? Haven’t they fought a few famous battles?”

Hasty googling.

“OK. How about something about Montezuma or Tripoli?”More googling. Awkward silence.“Seriously? Wouldn’t that be, like, unbelievably offensive to, like, Latinx and Africans?”“Oh right. Sorry.”More silence.Uncertainly, “How about a gag that combines a reference to our passionate commitment to green energy with an emphasis on full gender equality?”“Awesome. I’ll get on it.”Ms. Harris’s face-plant was no better than her boss’s a week earlier, during his address to the Coast Guard Academy. At least Ms. Harris didn’t try to break the awkward silences after the failed jokes by telling the audience they were “really dull,” as Mr. Biden did.Commencement speeches are a tough act; those curious occasions where faculty and parents and dignitaries smile uneasily across a generational gulf as their charges just want to get the party started.But as I watched the performances by the commander in chief and his would-be successor, it was hard to resist […]

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