Longtime late-night host David Letterman hit pause on his retirement. He joined Sen. Al Franken for several videos on climate change that debuted Monday. The bearded funnyman and the Minnesota Democrat, who was a “Saturday Night Live” writer before getting into politics, co-star in “Boiling the Frog,” six five-minute videos in which they jaw about the politics and science of the global phenomenon — and crack a few jokes, obviously.
Franken opens the series, a joint project of the comedy website Funny or Die and the environmental series “Years of Living Dangerously” and filmed mostly in Franken’s Senate office, with a deadpan welcome: “Thanks for taking a break from watching videos of animals who become unlikely friends.”
But things quickly turn darker as the two discuss the political forces that inform the climate change debate, carbon taxes and water pollution. “What I hear in your explanation is the edges, the beginning of the encroachment on a democracy,” Letterman says after Franken describes to him the powerful role played by the conservative Koch brothers.
Their banter, with Letterman playing the role of questioner and Franken the guide through the fraught topic, is laden with har-har quips. “I’m not the dumbest guy in America,” Letterman says at one point. “You sell yourself short,” Franken jokes in response.
“Anyone who says climate change isn’t real is talking out of his butt,” Franken says. “I’d pay to see that,” Letterman muses before the pair agrees that such an act would, in fact, result only in more pollution.
And there’s a requisite gag – in one episode, Franken has a doctor “analyze” a clipping from Letterman’s famously furry retirement beard to determine its ability to absorb carbon emissions and help the environment. The doc proclaims it to be “equivalent to an acre of Bolivian rain forest.”