This story about Jon Stewart having playing good host with neo-conservatives reminds me of that joke that ends “But you fuck one sheep…” Not that Jon’s a sheep fucker, but it’s assumed that he’s supposed to be a confrontational partisan. I think it’s because of his infamous Crossfire appearance which ultimately destroyed the show. A single, out-of-character conversation colors the expectations for what people think Stewart is doing.
It’s amazing how much the media avoids understanding that the most constant target of the Daily Show is the media itself. Particular the constant yelling and screaming of positions with attempts to score points without any attempt to understand, to bring clarity and focus to the people at home. If there’s any one thing Stewart will not do with his guests, even those with views he disagrees with, is add to the frustration that passes for political discourse on TV. Just like he’s shown the news media that they can play a clip that demonstrates a politicians lie, he’s also demonstrating how to make entrancing, education and often, still funny, talk about the issues of the day.
But it often seems many media folks just assume he’s just as much of an assertive pundit as Limbaugh, Hannity or Olbermann. Like what feel like 99% of our news media sometimes. They’re so involved with this sheep, they can’t imagine anyone else doesn’t want to fuck it too.
The past couple of days have seen more than a few stories talking about how the new incoming Obama administration will not be great fodder for American’s comedians. But any one of those who talk about The Daily Show hasn’t been watching the show for the past eight years. Because while George Bush was a frequent target for the show, an almost equally bigger target has been the mainstream media which asks questions like, “Can ‘The Daily Show’ survive Barack Obama?”
Modern news, with its obsession with balanced punditry, data overload and technological tricks isn’t going anywhere. Anyone who watched CNN coverage last night where Wolf Blitzer talked to Dana Bash via “holographic projection” knows that the news media will give the Daily Show plenty of grist for building jokes in the future. The only question I have is if Comedy Central will give the Daily Show the budget to make fun of such brazenly inane technological innovation.
The new site Daily Beast recently presented a video that collect comedy about Black Presidents by black comics. They’ll soon have another segment to cut into the montage, from “Katt Williams: It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’” which after showcasing a couple of minutes of material on Hillary, talks about Obama.
I think it’s interesting here that even with Obama, that Williams describes himself as confused about the election the whole time. Below, that video from Daily Beast.
“Katt Williams: It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’” will get released on November 11th, not only on DVD but also on Blu-Ray (for those who really need to see the comic nuance in Katt’s facial expressions).
Sarah Silverman makes a push for young Jews to visit their Bubbies and get them to vote Obama. And the best thing about it, she doesn’t compromise her comedic voice or persona to do it - meaning it’s very funny.
She even unintentionally insults an African American man in the segment. Brilliant. You can check the The Great Schlep for more information.
The revelation that Al Franken took time out from his Senate campaign to pen SNL’s opening sketch about McCain’s advertising appeared to be the real political lightning rod. But another sketch from the show appears to be drawing a bit more conservative ire. More remarkable, it was a sketch that, to my mind, seemed to be written to appeal to conservatives.
Here’s the sketch. NBC has had it taken down from YouTube, so it’ll likely disappear here as well.
If it is deleted and you missed it, the sketch involved New York Times reporters gathered to go to Alaska to do digging into Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s past. The bulk of the sketch was detailing how elitist and out of touch they were - unable to recognize a shotgun and a snow machine as well as unable to deal with a place with little psychotherapists or Thai food. The reporters are also eager to dig up any sort of dirt they can on Sarah Palin, particularly of the impossible-to-verify prejudiced-to-small-towns kind. It leads one of the reporters to say this:
“What about that husband? You know he’s doing those daughters. C’mon, it’s Alaska!”
And that’s the crux of the problem for some conservatives. Even joking about a frothing liberal desire to find salacious dirt about the Governor is a sensitive subject. Suggesting incest in the Palin family makes SNL a part of, rather than a voice against, the media feeding frenzy that embattles conservatives.
There’s definitely more than a little over-sensitivity going on here. The point was lost - and will be lost - on some of those who want to be offended by any media. But I think the sketch points to an interesting problem some talk about in contemporary comedy: namely that the truth has gotten so insane, it’s impossible to exaggerate.
The level of stories about Governor Palin for a time had a “can you believe this?” quality - a quality that makes joking about them, exaggerating them, particularly hard. The line couldn’t have been, “I’d like to know if one of her daughters is pregnant? Because it’s Alaska! What else is there to do?” A simple play off the facts wouldn’t have worked and also would have undermined the point of the sketch - that the media doesn’t have interest in the truth, but rather in stories that confirm their biases about small town folk. Evoking the truth muddies that point.
So they had to go for an exaggeration. And I’m unsure any exaggeration would have worked in the eyes of those who see Palin as a media target. Too tepid and you’re just repeating a blog rumor - i.e. no exaggeration at all. So they erred on the big exaggeration, going as large as possible to ensure that nobody could ever possibly think they believe it. Except it our hyper-sensitive political culture, they did.
The sketch, besides that one point, is a near-perfect model for being evenhanded (a goal expressed only last week, in the Times of all places, by head writer Seth Meyers). The sketch gives voice to the media bias seen by some of Palin’s defenders. But the sketch is also an exaggerated cartoon of elitism that it makes liberals laugh because they recognize that’s what some conservatives think a newsroom works like. It’s almost like a reverse version of Hee Haw.
if they could have found a different exaggeration, I could easily have seen this sketch as having been as much of a conservative rallying cry as the primary’s Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama sketch.
Here are the new blunt and brutal jokes he shared with a Oslo, Norway crowd only a couple of days after her candidacy was announced.
Stanhope originally planned to run for President in 2008 as a Libertarian, but withdrew after he discovered he could not make a living at his shows and use them as political events. Despite having to compromise on his candidacy, he has certainly not compromised his comedy.
A new parody hit the stands this week with a rather delicious premise entitled My Wall Street Journal. The “My” part refers to News corp mogul Rupert Murdoch who acquired the esteemed financial paper late last year. Many cringed at the inevitable changes that would come to the paper under Murdoch.
Tony Hendra, formerly of the National Lampoon and Spy, decided he’d best satirize it before reality caught up with him. The paper begins as the Wall Street Journal and then, as Fox News and NY Post style makes its presence known, the paper turns into something else entirely. I believe the word Hendra used is “travesty.”
A small confession, I’m a contributor - in a small way - to said travesty. But there’s a lot of far more brilliant folks than me involved with it including Terry Jones, Richard Belzer, Andy Borowitz, Jeff Kreisler, Todd Hanson, Rob Kutner, Ian Lendler and Bonnie Datt. They’re all very talented folks and well worth your $3.95.
Murdoch doesn’t just get it in print. The fun has continued online as well. Besides the website, there’s this: