Funny or Die Franken

(Pictured above: US Senator Al Franken. Source: YouTube screenshot)

The return of funny Franken?

Following a hotly contested recount that went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2009SNL alum Al Franken determined to play it straight as a newly minted US senator. This involved showing the deference expected of a freshman – including resisting the urge to make wisecracks about colleagues, lobbyists and political hacks.

Franken was reelected by a much more comfortable margin in 2014 and soon the gloves were off — kind of. The self-mocking title of his new book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, marked the return of his signature dry sarcasm. Speaking of Texas Senator Ted Cruz on a recent media tour for the book, for example, Franken said, “I probably like him more than most of my other colleagues like Ted, and I hate him.”

Now, he appears in a web series for Funny or Die, Boiling the Frog with Senator Al Franken, in which David Letterman emerges from retirement to interview him in his Senate office about a topic that matters very much to them both –climate change.

“I thought Senator Al Franken had lost his comedic mojo,” said series creator and executive producer David Gelber. “And I assumed that his mind was permanently stuck in the serious policymaker mode. But our team discovered that this guy still has it. And with great humor he’s able to tackle the hot-button and deadly-serious issue of climate change in a way that is both hilarious and informative.”

The genesis of the title?

“If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it’ll jump right out,” Gelber explained. “It’s a shock to the system. But if you put a frog in a pot of cold water, place it on a stove and slowing start heating it up, it turns out the frog will stay in the pot and let itself get boiled. We’re living in a time where politicians are more like the frog in the heating pot. Despite climate change staring them right in the face they’re not taking life-saving action.”

You can watch all six five-minute episodes now at Funny or Die.

Funny or Die is producing the series in collaboration with Years of Living Dangerously, a multimedia series involving “some of Hollywood’s biggest influencers who are passionate about environmental issues.”

About Larry Greenberg

A former local beat reporter and film critic, co-founder Lawrence Greenberg has more than 25 years’ experience as a writer and public relations executive.

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