Ten Ways to Make the Presidential Debate More Interesting


It’s time for the first presidential debate of the 2012 election and excitement couldn’t be higher. Not that it’s high by any means, but the current level is probably the ceiling. Maybe everyone’s forgetting about all of the great things that go along with a presidential debate. The podiums! The somewhat familiar looking moderators! The vague, unspecific rhetoric that calls into question the opponent’s use of vague, unspecific rhetoric! It’s all there, America. Everything you’re told that you want is right there in front of you: two guys in suits that each probably cost more than you make in a year bickering and interrupting each other during discussions about tax rates and medical coverage for senior citizens. You know, debating. Last year, I gave primary candidates some tips on how to win a debate. But now it’s down to two and the focus needs to shift from any semblance of substance to a pure, unapologetic ratings grab. (Hello, third part candidate Honey Boo Boo!)

Prohibit the use of pronouns. Let’s see how good of a debater they you the America talkin’ guys are.

One candidate just repeats what the other says until a freak out occurs. “I believe in cutting taxes for all Americans, regardless of their…no you don’t…stop that…stop it…oh, real mature…I know you’re just trying to…okay, you know what? I’m just not going to say anything…oh, so now you’re mimicking my movements, too…this isn’t funny…are you finished…(long sigh)…how long are we going to do this…don’t you think this has gone on long enough…Barack is stupid…No, see, that’s not what I said. I didn’t say ‘Mitt is stupid.’ You don’t just get to pick and choose what you repeat and what you don’t…Mr. Blitzer, make him stop!”

Conduct the entire debate on horseback. And lo, what a noble debate it would be.

Questions asked in “Simon says” format. “Yes, we’d all like clarification on your previous statement that, ‘Immigrants are always up to something.’ I did not, however, say ‘Simon says.’ Hence you are out, making your opponent the next President of the United States of America. I’m sorry, no exceptions. Rules are rules.”

Joe Biden does a walk-on. Audiences are suckers for an appearance by the wacky neighbor.

Every fifth question the candidates answer as each other. This serves the dual purpose of making things interesting and then giving them sound bites with which to attack each other in soon to be released swing state ads.

Give the option to choose a physical challenge. “Mr. President, unemployment is at one of the highest levels since the Great Depression, with little relief in sight. Many view your stimulus package as having little impact in putting Americans back to work. Families are struggling to make ends meet and they’re looking for specifics. A real plan that will help them return to the workforce and regain a normal life. How do you respond to those voters, sir? And before you answer, be aware that you can instead opt to see how many pies you can catch in your pants in 30 seconds.”

No questions, just candidates trading “Yo Momma” jokes. Wilder Valderrama will moderate.

Include a lavish opening song and dance number featuring Faith Hill. And robots! There have to be robots of some kind. If sports have taught us anything it’s that people’s attention spans are so limited that they need a music video before every big event to inform them that it is indeed a big event, as well as constant robot sounds to keep them engaged throughout. Nothing crazy, maybe just replace the “time’s up” bell with a drill sound. And, if there’s time, maybe build complete metallic replicas of each candidate with language skills and the ability to love.

Cliffhangers. This being the first debate of the series, you have to leave the audience wanting more. What better way to do it than by throwing in a shocking twist at the end of the debate that generates buzz in the lead up to debate #2? Tonight, tune in as immigration officials storm the debate to arrest the candidate with the secret past, finally possessing the proof they need in the form of the Kenyan birth certificate…of Mitt Romney!

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  • Horseback: Then Darley Newman can rebroadcast it on Equitrekking. Or Mr. Ed can give some of the answers. ("Wilbur, a bag of oats in every barn.")

    Physical challenge: Michelle Obama wins that biceps up.

    Yo Mama jokes: considering the aristocracy on both maternal sides, the only ones seem to be Yo Mamma is so rich....

    Cliffhangers: The taking heads will kill the suspense in about 10 minutes.

    What we really need is another Dan Quayle crying episode. Or some third party candidate making a special appearance, ala the Ross Perot party.

  • Another suggestion would be if the fact-checkers can immediately find a debater said something untrue, the non-offending candidate gets to bend over and do the Ace Ventura, "May I ass you a few questions?" motion and mime like they are literally talking out of their ass.

    Then at the end they can say, "I'm Mitt Romney/Barack Obama (whoever lied) and I assprove this message"

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