When the left-leaning talk-radio network Air America hit the airwaves, Al Franken was the most famous figure in the initial lineup of show hosts. He and co-host Katherine Lanpher called their program The O'Franken Factor in the hopes that Fox talking head Bill O'Reilly would sue and provide more publicity. The O'Franken Factor Factor collects 27 of the show's crafted comedy bits. The humor falls into three basic categories. Of little substance are bits that mock right-wing pundits of the time like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. While these bits will certainly bring a smile to the face of those sympathetic with Franken's viewpoint, the fact is these bits will not age well and are often simple-minded. A small number of skits on this CD are about radio itself. One of the funniest pieces, "The Audio Crawl," attempts to make Air America sound like CNN, Fox News, and CNBC look, and does a perfect job of pointing out the ludicrous qualities of a 24-hour news cycle. The very best sections of the CD use news events as a jumping-off point to make barbed satirical jabs at the neo-conservative ideology that is the show's (and the network's) real enemy. A conversation between Dick Cheney and Judge Antonin Scalia (voiced by Franken and actor Stanley Tucci) manages to skewer the Bush administration's rampant cronyism while producing laughs. And the final piece, a broadcast of "The Iraqi Independence Day Parade," has become more heartbreaking than funny in the months since it originally aired (which was right after the hand over of power in Iraq in late June of 2004). While this album will certainly play well to the base, Franken's books offer sharper observations and funnier moments.
AllMusic Review by Perry Seibert
feat: Bill Bennett