Saturday, May 06, 2006

Speaking truth to power: THAT'S NOT FUNNY!

Via majikthise. Kung-fu Monkey, professional funny guy, succinctly explains exactly why Colbert's performance was necessary, and why "but, he wasn't funny" is so ludicrously, well, funny:

If Colbert "bombed", it was because the audience didn't like him. And you know what -- they WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO. We have been treated to toothless feel-good comedy for so long, we have forgotten what the court jester's job was: he was the only guy who could mock the King. And, seeing as we now have a President who acts like a King, it's only fitting that Colbert revive the tradition in its truest form. If I remember correctly, the toady court followers were also fair game for the Jester, and we could hardly call the modern media anything less these days, can we?

...All comedy is based on revealing a truth, sometimes so minor as to seem inconsequential, but a generally unobserved truth nonetheless. Sometimes the truth is a monstrous truth -- and many times comics shy away from that monstrous truth, unwilling to deal with the fallout from being its bearer. But the ones who embrace that mission -- Bruce, Carlin, Richard goddam Pryor, Bill Hicks ("Your child is not special", jesus the stones that took) -- they transcend.

One of the insanely annoying phrases lefties overuse is "Speaking truth to power." Well, kids, you know what? Standing three feet from the most powerful man in the world and poking fun at his public foibles, telling your audience that they are cowards by doing nothing more than pointing out the truth of their actions -- THAT'S speaking truth to power. Mutter to yourselves all you want, civilians. Colbert, that night, became one of the stories comics will trade for literally decades to come. Young comics will learn it from old comics. Audiences come and go. We honor our own.


I particularly like Time's Ana Marie Cox's little moue:

While it may have shocked the President to hear someone talk so openly about his misdeeds in the setting of the correspondents dinner — joking about "the most powerful photo-ops in the world" and NSA wiretaps — I somehow doubt that Bush has never heard these criticisms before.

You know--I doubt her doubtiness. Or at minimum: I doubt what she's doubting. I think it's extremely possible that Bush has never heard these criticisms before, in fact. Boy lives in a bubble. Is this going to change his mind about anything? No, but like Bill O'Reilly and all his other enablers, he's the sort of person who hates being depantsed more than anything. That's WHY he's carefully shielded from these sorts of criticisms (I can't imagine what they were thinking when they hired Colbert in the first place. somebody would appear to be falling down on the job).

More to the point, in this case, perhaps: the media doesn't much like being made fun of, either, any more than the rest of us. anyway I'm sure A.M. Cox wasn't at all thinking about the line about how the mainstream media should just relax, go home, spend time with the kids, get to work on that novel about the noble intrepid reporter who brought down the corrupt administration--"You know: FICTION!"--when she aimed that little shrug at the blogosphere.

As for this:

To laud Colbert for saying them seems to me, a card-carrying lefty, to be settling. Colbert's defenders might aim for the same stinging criticisms to be issued not from the Hilton ballroom but from the dais in a Senate Judiciary committee hearing. And I wouldn't really care if they were funny or not
.

Yeah, I'd like that too, more stinging criticism from the supposed loyal opposition in seats of actual political power. Good thing it's not an either/or situation, huh?


Meanwhile, via Bitch | Lab, youtube video footage of the Shrubster's reaction to Colbert's performance. He is, indeed, ready for his close-up. My wordies.

9 comments:

Bitch | Lab said...

i do believe AMC stole my entire critique of Colbert. i voiced it at Henwood's list, mostly complaining that some of the nursery rhymes for kids are more stinging than colbert's stuff. in context, yeah it was a slap in the face but i guess i don't have that much reverence for the office -- you, my friend Dennis Perrin, one of my clients -- all would have been much more stinging.

and i hate settling. he needed a george carlin rant on his ass.

but also, the more technical criticism i had was that, while colbert's was acting like the prez in tone and body gestures, and also acting like someone just talking off the cuff, it also made it appear that colbert was a big doof who kept forgetting his lines. sometimes i wasn't sure if he'd even bothered to memorize the whole thing. and if he didn't, dude! why drop the ball!

but, if that's all we got, that's all we got.

i guess.

Bitch | Lab said...

oh yeah, and colbert's just not any good at stand up. he doesn't seem to have much timing. he's cool on his show, but the audience has been properly fluffed and they are there to clap their hands admiringly -- unlike an AP dinner. anyway. back to housecleaning.

Dharmadyke said...

Now see, your blog is a real blog, where mine is kind of like a Hollywood set house that I set up because I kept having to sign into Blogger and kept being told to give it a try.

In any case, Princess Sparkle Pony is, well, yeah, go see for yourself.

I too, live here in NYC, and I guess I must be a queer progressive feminist not a radical feminist, right? And I still get to be a dyke right?

yrs, a dharmadyke

belledame222 said...

B | L: we're just gonna have to agree to disagree.

anyway, I *so* trump your ass.

dharma: see above re: I trump everybody. as long as you keep that in mind, you're golden.

Anthony Kennerson said...

Funny the Miz B would mention the former Miz Wonkette...because she is getting waxed in the liberal blogosphere for her Colbert critique. Words like "social climber" and "ass-fucker" are being thrown around..and those are the more printable ones. Here's one particularly nasty smackdown of Ms. Cox from Digby:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2006_05_01_digbysblog_archive.html#114687521501470994

Secondly: it turns out that the ThankYouStephenColbert.com website was just a bait-and-switch job to shakedown liberals for donations to the Democratic Party. Using a Bush-whacker to solicit funds to a party that has mostly enabled Bush to do his worst...now THAT's real funny..in a sick way.

Personally, I was underwhelmed by Colbert's act....what has this pixellated right-wing "satirist" done that no fair real-life Lefty has risked his life and limb to say these past few years???

But, as Miz B said, you dance with what you got, not with what you have.

Anthony



Anthony

belledame222 said...

What has he done? He got within three feet of the Shrub and said this shit to his face, on camera. It's more than a lot of the media has done, including the WH press corp.

Per life and limb...I dunno. Some people've done more than others. I didn't realize AMC was the former Wonkette (I am out of the loop), but while the fact that she's apparently being called things like "ass-fucker" is...well...ewy, I never particularly saw her as someone who was risking her life and limbs, you know.

And no, dammit, it's not "all we got." That's what drives me up the damn wall with the left sometimes. It's like: hey, so-and-so did something that a lot of people appreciate! Therefore it must mean those appreciative people must be hanging up their fightin' pants, That's All, Folks! we can rest now. It isn't a frigging either-or. It was a shot across the bow, and as far as I'm concerned, it was a damn good one.

belledame222 said...

including *much of* the WH press corp, I should say. Which istm was the main focus of Colbert's routine, and why it was as uncomfortable as it was.

belledame222 said...

or, okay, I gotta say this, I do:

"you, my friend Dennis Perrin, one of my clients -- all would have been much more stinging."

Well, maybe. Or maybe not. But we weren't there. Colbert was. And much as I often think "hey, *I* could've done a better job! why don't *I* have my own television show! why don't *I* have a gig at Time! why don't more people appreciate mememe!"-- personally I'd like to try to avoid conflating my own lovingly nurtured green-eyed monster with aesthetic and/or sociopolitical critique as much as possible.

Colbert was good.

No, it ain't gonna change anything by itself. Frankly, George Carlin and Lenny Bruce tag-teaming him in a pit of creamed corn wouldn't have changed anything, by itself. Very few things in this world create major change, all alone. But hearing that snark to power did make me feel a bit less like sticking my head in the oven, momentarily, and perhaps that will come in handy, down the line, activism-wise.

midwesterntransport said...

and criminy, did it need to be the most knock-down hilarious thing anyone's ever seen in order to be ballsy?

no, it didn't.

i don't care if it was funny or not. i laughed a few times, not a lot, but i enjoy colbert and i don't need him to make me guffaw every two seconds. he called out the prez and the press corps to their faces. he called them out on television. he called them OUT.

and i appreciate that.