Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stephen Colbert Brings Too Much 'Truthiness' To The White House Correspondents' Dinner



UPDATE: YouTube has pulled the Colbert Vids because of copyright infringement. You can find Colbert's Correspondents' Dinner performance here:

Part 1

Part 2


And here's an interesting 60 Minute interview with Colbert.




The 2006 correspondents' dinner held up the long-standing tradition of poking fun at the president. This year Stephen Colbert was chosen as the topper for the event...I'm guessing the guy from Associated Press responsible for 'hiring' Colbert might now be having some second thoughts about that decision. For those of you not familiar with Colbert, he's a very funny and biting satirist who used be a 'correspondent' on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is now the host of his own spin-off show The Colbert Report. Colbert plays the role of an uninformed loud-mouthed pro-Bush talk show pundit modeled largely on Bill O'Reilly, whom Colbert affectionately refers to as 'Papa Bear'. Of course Colbert was completely in character during the correspondents dinner, you can see the full video of his performance below.

The Bush administration usually doesn't take too kindly to criticism, and that was pretty evident in the video from the pained fake smiles and chilly silence that often followed Colbert's riffs. In contrast to the happy USA today article I linked to above, you can an honest idea of the real reaction to his performance in this article from Editor and Publisher. Apparently a lot of attendees weren't too pleased. I can imagine Bush and his cronies fuming about the perfidious 'liberal media' after having to sit through Colbert's 'blistering' performance. It's great to see at least one publication captured the uncomfortable and sometimes stony reaction from the assembled guests. For a while now I've been inclined to give Colbert the edge over Jon Stewart for the title of America's greatest television satirist. After his performance last night I think Colbert has clinched it. Here's an interesting interview with Stephen Colbert talking about his show on NPR.

The man must have balls the size of watermelons to have stood in front of that audience at the White House and mercilessly lambasted the president on every level, taking some pointed shots at the cowardly media as well. Incredibly gutsy and pure genius. His video audition wasn't quite as amusing as the rest of performance, but I did get a chuckle out of the Gannon button on his podium. The Helen Thomas chase scene probably dragged on a little too long, but she definitely deserves the hat tip. Helen Thomas, who's now 86 years-old, is the ball-buster of the White House correspondents. She's the only White House correspondent who has had the guts to consistently ask Bush critical questions during his press conferences.



Here's the entire video of Stephen Colbert at the Correspondents' Dinner in three parts.









And here's a bunch of hilarious clips from The Colbert Report I found at youtube. Great show, and one of America's finest satirists. :-)





8 Comments:

Blogger K said...

Le Colbert' Reporrr'!!
*Points pen at the camera a.k.a your direction*

6:36 PM  
Blogger Oleksa said...

Oh America, no freedom of expression can be found in thy land! Even such brave souls as Stephen Colbert have to bow to pressure and the right of dissent gets stifled. The man was only given 20 minutes to mock, ridicule and rant about the president whom he hates so passionately that the fearless reporter could've gone on and on for hours, perhaps even days. But he was only given mere minutes.
And yeah, one should not forget about censorship. Would not it be so natural if our Stephen had called Bush a moron and a dumbass right into his face and perhaps even spit on it. But alas, he was forced to resort to using an Aesopic language of stale metaphors and turgid banalities. THAT is a violation of my human rights! How so, you'd ask... Well, don't I have a right to know what Colbert really thinks of Bush. See, I am not quite sure whether Colbert believes that Bush is a moron AND an evil genius who's bent on destroying the world, or is it vice versa or whatever?
Yeah, no freedom exists in America and what even worse everybody tries to conceal this fact with a phony, forced smile. Perhaps, Mr. Colbert should move to North Korea or Iran - I'm pretty sure his words would have been taken much more seriously over there like they care, ya know. Heck, he coulda even try moving to Canada when that 'da liddle guy from Quebec' was still in power - at least he would've likely attempted to choke him. That sounds like showing some respect, doesn't it?

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Jellineck said...

Stephen is the greatest...and that's the "word." Can't wait till he gets on top of "hookergate."

Oleksa...You are the reason his show is so funny.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Stephen Colbert's speech was brilliant and courageous.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Oleksa said...

From today's National Post:

Dripping with sarcasm, the fake news thing works best when it mercilessly mocks the self-importance of many politicians and journalists. It fails when the joke-tellers start believing in their own genius and adopt the same know-it-all smugness of the people they are sending up.

While conservatives reacted with can't-take-a-joke outrage, liberal bloggers have spent the week hailing Mr. Colbert as the second coming of Mark Twain. In their eyes, he proved his mettle as a fearless truth teller who refused to tone down his act to please Mr. Bush or the media lapdogs who hired him for the gig.

Frankly, Mr. Colbert's performance was a mixed bag -- neither as brave or offensive as the partisans made it out to be.


That's pretty much what I was trying to say all along (although I admit I did it in a much clamsier manner so no wonder I got misunderstood by some people).

7:59 PM  
Blogger A. Shah said...

Oleksa,

Typical stuff from the National Post. The reality is it took balls of steel to stand in front of that audience and relentlessly rip into Bush to that degree. It would have been much easier to just throw out the typical light-hearted cracks about Bush, or at least to soften the criticism, but he definitely didn't do that. He does deserve credit for that, and if you can't see the guts it took to do what he did than you're living in some sort of conservative fantasy world.

One of the reasons the 'left' is enjoying this so much is because it really needed to be done. Without reservatiion he savaged the Bush admin, this was probably the longest sustained critique Bush has heard of his policies in a long long time.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Oleksa said...

Typical stuff from the National Post
Gee, I chose to inform you and others about this article mainly due to my perception that it was a well-balanced, rather objective assessment of Colbert's act and the subsequent hype. Perhaps, it's immdiately clear from the passeges I qouted but I gut the impression he tried to distance himself from both, conservative critics and liberal apologists alike
(to illustrate my point, here's another excerpt:
Was he funny? In parts, he was gut-busting funny, like when he joked that democracy was America's greatest export "at least until China figures out a way to stamp it out of plastic for three cents a unit."

Was he rude and insulting? Only if you believe it's a political comic's job to make his subject feel comfortable at all times.

You want irony? It took a comedian to remind Washington just how much U.S. politics is still infused with anger. )

As I said, I must've been hopelessly naive - I guess anyone who dares not to praise Colbert's unflinching 'courage' must be Bush's shrill, no less.


the longest sustained critique Bush has heard of his policies in a long long time.

It must be sad times when a comedian's act, no matter how sensible, can be taking seriously. Isn't that the whole point of humour, that it's a joke?

9:10 PM  
Blogger A. Shah said...

Was he rude and insulting? Only if you believe it's a political comic's job to make his subject feel comfortable at all times.

Comedians in a setting such as that generally tone down the 'rude, insulting' part of their act in order not to offend too much in a public setting. Like I said, he didn't tone down the critical message of the humour because Bush was sitting a few feet away from him. That took a tremendous amount of guts on his part. To many viewers of his performance, there wasn't anything shocking in what he said at all. Point is to Bush admin at the dinner much of the comedy was 'unacceptable' and far more critical than they thought 'appropriate'- just read some of the reports from officials at the dinner giving honest reactions. As I said before, his courage is clear since most comedians would have avoided delivering comedy that was so biting and truthful to Bush's simian face.

As I said, I must've been hopelessly naive - I guess anyone who dares not to praise Colbert's unflinching 'courage' must be Bush's shrill, no less.

More like delusional ;-) It's not that you 'dare not praise Colbert's unflinching courage', it's that you go out of your way to deny the obvious courage it took to deliver that performance. You're living in some fantasy world where the Bush admin is no different to any other admin, deserving no more or less criticism. You're living in some delusional reality where the Bush admin can 'take a joke' like anyone else. Wake up.


It must be sad times when a comedian's act, no matter how sensible, can be taking seriously. Isn't that the whole point of humour, that it's a joke?

This is such a disengenous comment. You know that humour is often used to deliver criticism in settings where criticism isn't allowed. It's obvious that there was some devestating criticism of the Bush admin behind that humour.

9:30 AM  

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