Monday, May 22, 2006

Was Stephen Colbert Funny?

After Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents' dinner a heated debate emerged over whether Colbert's routine was actually funny. The left tended view his performance as extremely funny and a remarkable feat considering the setting, while those on the right either ignored it or proclaimed the act to be a bomb. Radio Open Source recently gathered a panel of commentators with a variety of opinions to discuss this burning issue ;-) By the way, Radio Open Source is an excellent thought-provoking current affairs podcast and website, I definitely recommend you check it out.

I personally thought his routine was absolutely hysterical, but I can definitely see why those with a different political persuasion weren't amused. I think the panelist on the ROS program who said it was routine intended to amuse outsiders rather than the elites gathered in the room was on the mark. Colbert tore apart Shrubya and the White House Press, so it's not surprising his routine was met with stony silence by a room full of his targets. Since he was relentless and pulled no punches and didn't resort to the feel good routine that's expected in that sort of occasion, he really didn't give his 'targets' much room to find any humour in his routine. So no, to them it wasn't particularly funny, but to most of the informed public it was hysterical and definitely holding a mirror to the naked emperor. In my opinion this is satire at its finest, 'mercilessly' exposing the stupidity, incompetence, and cowardice of the powers that be. And yes, undoubtedly it took some massive cajones to pull that one off.

3 Comments:

Blogger Oleksa said...

Since he was relentless and pulled no punches and didn't resort to the feel good routine that's expected in that sort of occasion, he really didn't give his 'targets' much room to find any humour in his routine. So no, to them it wasn't particularly funny, but to most of the informed public it was hysterical and definitely holding a mirror to the naked emperor.

So, if I've understood you correctly, those who happened not find Colbert's speech funny are all Bush apologists who didn't appreciate Colbert's sardonic jabs at Bush and his policies. And there must be no other reason!!
And yeah, I do find it funny how, all of a sudden, in order to qualify for membership in the elite club of the 'informed public' one has got to profess an unflinching excitement about the event.

- What, you didn't laugh while watching Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents' dinner? What's wrong with you, are you stupid or what???

2:40 AM  
Blogger Oleksa said...

P.S. Just to avoid any misunderstanding and starting another flame again :-).
We've already established, in our previous thread on the topic, that you thought Colbert was brave and funny whereas I argued that neither was true.

So far so good, but what I find 'unreasonable' in this post is your apparent attempt to ascribe to the 'other side' the motive it doesn't necessarily hold.

6:49 AM  
Blogger A. Shah said...

In my opinion, the majority of people who are reasonably well-informed about US politics and aren't rabidly pro-Bush or anti-'Liberal' would have enjoyed Colbert's routine. Sure some of the jokes were on the lame side- most of the video 'audition' was mediocre in my opinion. Other parts were very funny, like the line about the press writing a 'fictional' account of what a Washington reporter shold be. What I did think was brilliant was the fact that he managed to pull off delivering such a blistering routine in the belly of the beast. It was harsh humour, not the stuff that makes it's targets or 'neutrals' burst out laughing with merriment. It's humour intended to humble the targets and give a little joy to the their critics. It would have been far easier for him to have delivered something 'balanced' or watered down. But sometimes it's unreasonable to try to create balance... say when you have a mouse on one side of the scale and a hippo on the other ;-)

Actually on further consideration I do think there is another group that might not find his routine amusing. This would be people who don't like aggressive embarassing humour. The same crowd that couldn't stand watching Ali G might also cringe at much of Colbert's routine. But IMO those people are being priggish goofs. Under a reasonably competent administration that performance might have been 'too much', but in the era of Shrubya it's not only totally justified but needed.

By the way, did you get a chance to listen to the Radio Open Source interview?

6:52 PM  

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