Monday, May 01, 2006

More Colbert

A few more miscellaneous things about the Colbert act.

1) Someone put the C-Span video on, in three parts. It's gone viral, and part one is currently the most viewed video on, with 342,591 views in the day it's been up. [Update: I just checked back after around three hours and now it's been viewed 400,989 times. So that's about sixty thousand views in three hours or less.]

2) In ilne with the above, as James Wolcott notes, it's likely his routine played better on television than in the room. I have a few ideas why that may be the case:

  • The DC politico-tainment nexus is really parochial. For instance, take this bit from Lloyd Grove's column today:
    As for the after-dinner entertainment, the conventional wisdom was that Bush killed with his self-mocking routine — "The President was fantastic," gushed staunch Dem Patricia Duff — while the hired talent, Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert, bombed badly. "It was an insider crowd, as insider a crowd as you'll ever have, and he didn't do the insider jokes," said BET founder Bob Johnson.

    Colbert should have made jokes about how Laura smokes cigarettes, maybe? That's "inside."

    No, they wanted tame jokes about, say, someone's renowned eating habits. They wanted the lame kinds of pabulum jokes that Leno pumps out, or that Bush makes about himself. Faux "insider" stuff that makes them feel part of the club, but which isn't really funny even you are inside-- you laugh at getting the reference that the hoi polloi won't grasp.

    Which is a good example of the cocktail weenie thinking of these dolts, and why we're in such a state today. There are somethings that the public shouldn't really care to know. Unless Patrick Fitzgerald calls them to testify, we'll never know the backchannel bullshit that goes on which keeps reporters plugged in to their sources.

    So Colbert, by not playing to that fake insider bullshit, talked to the folks at home more than the tuxedoed masses in the room. And the ones who haven't drunk the Bush Koolaid by and large find Colbert funny.

  • At the end of Hardball today, Mike Allen of Time magazine said that the rule for comedy at these things is they're meant to "singe, not burn." And Matthews said (on the first airing -- it was excised on the 7 p.m. repeat) that the president is more than a politician -- he's the head of state, indicating that Bush deserved more respect.

    But Colbert didn't make fun of Bush's pecadillos (Bush does that, after all). He lacerated his governing style, his failures and the assistance given to these failures by the attendant media. Of course they're not going to like that.

3) The reaction to Colbert points to the overall tameness of what passes for political comedy these days. The line that Leno, Letterman and Conan take on Bush is that he's not o bright and he can't speak. 90 percent of the jokes are about that, and that's not political humor. It's the equivalent of making fat jokes about Pavarotti: a punch line is supposed to be funny merely because it makes the point that Pavarotti is fat, or Bush isn't bright. That vein of comedy was thoroughly mined even before Bush's first year in office.

Get it? Bush doesn't speak fluently! Bwahahahahahahahah! Hilarious.

But that's the kind of toothless "humor" that passes for political satire nowadays. Anything that actually gets into politics, rather than personal traits, is somehow out of bounds to these people.

It's so toothless that Bush uses it about himself. And the crowd laps it up.

No comments:

Web Analytics