News & Politics

How Funny or Die and Planned Parenthood Made That Anti-Kavanaugh Ad

The organizations are using humor to fight Trump's latest Supreme Court pick.

As political spots go, Planned Parenthood and Funny or Die’s latest anti-Brett Kavanaugh ad came together quickly. A few weeks after Trump nominated the circuit court judge for the US Supreme Court, Funny or Die assembled an all-female production company and worked with a team at Planned Parenthood to develop a satirical pitch from “Chad Smith,” a “white guy” who supports Kavanaugh. Using a tactic drawn from mockumentary television like The Office, the creative teams charged “Smith” with convicting the viewer—presumably a left-leaning woman (or yaas queen, as the video notes)—that Kavanaugh would not touch abortion access.

“I know it may seem that Kavanaugh doesn’t care about women because he has a history of not caring about women,” ‘Smith’ says. “But, he also coaches his daughter’s basketball team so, who’s to say? I’m saying. He’s great.”

The tongue-in-cheek ad was meant to play on the absurdities of lobbying for a Supreme Court nominee based on his character as opposed to his legal record. However, life crosses humor at surprising intersections. Last month, parents from Kavanaugh’s CYO basketball team wrote ranking members of the Senate Judiciary committee to praise his coaching ability and strong moral backbone. And, just last week, leadership from the Washington Jesuit Academy (where Kavanaugh volunteers) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police wrote Senators Chuck Grassley and Diane Feinstein to lobby for a swift confirmation.

“It’s a great mix of comedy and key facts out there about the nominee that other folks haven’t seen or read,” Funny or Die’s DC managing director Brad Jenkins tells Washingtonian. “It’s an opportunity for people to go learn more.” He stresses that this latest ad offers a breath of authenticity that young folks don’t typically get from political energizing ads. “There’s always a flag, and a dog, almost as if there were advertisement stock characters.” Funny or Die hosted Planned Parenthood’s official after-party for the Women’s March and made a satirical video before that, but with this ad it was able to ditch the manual altogether.

“Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is not amusing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use humor to send a message about the very real threats he poses to women’s rights and health care,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, says in a statement. “People may not know what is really at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination, but they sure will after watching this video.”

Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.