Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born May 21, 1951), Comedy writer, Political Satirist, and Senator from Minnesota.
First known as a writer and bit player on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s...then returning in the 1980s when Lorne Michaels decided to come back to save his show and again in the 1990s when the show was once again on top -- before its decline in the mid-1990s (Franken is the show's longest-running feature player as of 2011), in The Nineties he also became a bestselling author, with a strong liberal-political bent. He's also appeared in a few, largely forgettable, films, and hosted a Radio Talk Show show on Air America.
Most recently he became the Junior Senator from Minnesota in a frighteningly protracted election. Interestingly, as a Senator, he's been rather mild-mannered, level-headed, and kind of sheepish. It's actually kind of endearing.
Oh, and he can draw an accurate map of the United States of America from memory.
His books include:
- I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!: Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley
- Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations
- Why Not Me? The Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency
- Oh, the Things I Know! A Guide to Success, or Failing That, Happiness
- Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right
- The Truth (With Jokes)
Tropes associated with Franken include:
- Badass: He is a Quick Draw champion in real life. In Lies, he claims he is 3rd ranked in the US, in response to Bill O Reilly saying that in the Wild West he'd have shot Franken in a Showdown At High Noon.
- He also managed to calmly talk down some very angry Tea Party members. Compared to many of his colleagues who would have difficult shouting matches with them, Franken spoke calmly with them, having a very intelligent debate. That is pretty badass, but YMMV.
- Biting the Hand Humor: Franken describing the failures of the then-NBC president on SNL's "Weekend Update" segment, in what came to be known as the "Limo for the Lame-o" affair.
- Bleached Underpants: He had to disavow a great deal of his earlier, more ribald work to run for the Senate.
- Could Say It, But...: The so-called "Kidding on the Square" version is closely associated with Franken, particularly in the Lying Liars era.
- The relative lack of this in his political career is mostly thanks to his getting dressed down by his fellow senators when he tried cracking wise on the floor.
- The Danza: Al Franken was Al Freundlich on Lateline.
- The Eponymous Show: The Al Franken Show, previously known as The O'Franken Factor.
- Ending Fatigue: The 2009 Minnesota Senate race against Norm Coleman. The vote was ridiculously close, and the people in charge decided to bend over backwards to make sure nobody could possibly accuse them of corruption. This involved a recount in which every single questionable ballot was both posted on the internet and debated in court. Is a ballot still valid if the voter wrote in a vote for "Lizard People"?
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Why Not Me? is about a tongue-in-cheek run for the White House; he's a Senator now...
- And The Truth (with jokes) ends with a future letter to his grandchildren, dated 2015, detailing what happened in the since the book was published in 2005. Some of the things in the letter are obviously false (Bill Frist is the Republican nomination for president in 2008, and Karl Rove runs his campaign from prison because he punched a cop), but he also mentions a successful senate bid. Franken claims he didn't make the final decision to run for Senator until 2007.
- Let's See You Do Better: He has probably received vituperations of this sort from various factions. His response was to get himself elected to the Senate.
- Mood Whiplash: A particularly bad case in Lies. Chapter 25 details how the Republicans exploited Paul Wellstone's death for political gains, and ends on a bittersweet note. Chapter 26? Franken goes to the White House Correspondents Dinner and trolls all the righties there. Uh-huh.
- No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: when the Fox News Channel sued Franken over the Lying Liars etc. book, they didn't seem to think this was the case, but he did. They were both right.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: Briefly discussed in Lies; one of Franken's friends believes that Strom Thurmond may have died as much as 3 years before the book was published, and the GOP is pursuing this strategy so the Democratic governor of South Carolina doesn't appoint a Democrat to fill the seat.
- Strawman Political: Republican pundits tend to become this.
- Take That: "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" could be interpreted as this.
- Troll: A number of his essays.
- From Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot comes "One Giant Leap Towards Solving The Budget Crisis", written in the vein of A Modest Proposal. Franken suggests that to save on the budgets of both NASA and Social Security, they shoot the elderly into space.
- From Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Franken trolls several people at the 2003 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Especially Paul Wolfowitz:
Al Franken: Hi, Dr. Wolfowitz! Hey, the Clinton military sure did a great job in Iraq, didn't it?
Paul Wolfowitz: Fuck you.
- What Could Have Been: If not for Franken's Limo for the Lame-O segment on Weekend Update, Franken would have been the executive producer of SNL's sixth season (which, as it now stands, is considered an Old Shame due to how weak and humorless it was).
- Zero-G Spot: deconstructed in Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot in response to something on the subject Newt Gingrich wrote in one of his books.