Mario Rosenstock

Given that they are the two most lampooned politicians in the country, perhaps it's not surprising that Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny fared so badly in the weekend's opinion polls. According to comedians, political satire can have a detrimental effect on its subjects, and the damage can last a long time.

Cowen is a frequent figure of fun on 2FM's Nob Nation and Today FM's Gift Grub. On Monday, in the wake of the Taoiseach's below-par interview on Morning Ireland, TV's The Frontline got in on the act as well with a sketch entitled 'In Defence of Brian Cowen', which made great play of Cowen's recent alleged drinking and re-branded Fianna Fáil "The Publican Party".

A spokeswoman for RTé said a small number of complaints had been received since Monday. "We got a few emails to say that maybe it had gone too far – around half-a-dozen informal complaints – but given the viewership of 400,000, that is a low amount."

Gift Grub's Mario Rosenstock said there was more to satire than comic value, and argued that a good sketch such as that on The Frontline could have damaging consequences.

"There have been tons of songs, posters and jokes about Brian Cowen recently. It has been all over the internet and all over the TV and radio. It is only when a satirist does something which hits the nail on the head that people sit up and pay attention, and that's when the damage is done."

Since his Morning Ireland performance, Cowen has featured on t-shirts and in Facebook groups, and has inspired the coining of the term "getting Taoiseached" for getting drunk.

According to Rosenstock, Cowen will not be able to shake the image of an over-indulgent leader.

"When the Taoiseach starts becoming the butt of jokes, there is a problem. People will start taking his role and that of his office much less seriously.

"If the image of a drinker stays, then he will begin to lose his moral authority. This will get in the way of his job and undermine his credibility as a leader.

"And all of that would have been aided by the fact the satire will have stuck to him."