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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 04:38 PM
Original message
Funny Like A Fox
Edited on Mon Feb-26-07 05:00 PM by Plaid Adder
As you may have heard, FOX's cable channel has just debuted a half-hour "satirical" program entitled "The 1/2 Hour News Hour." It is supposed to be the conservative answer to The Daily Show. I was pointed to a clip of it by a friend who was brave enough to track it down on YouTube. Based on this 2 1/2 minute segment, I would not say that Jon Stewart needs to stay up nights worrying about job security. But in fact, even before I saw the segment I was pretty sure this show was going to be a dog. Why? Because a "conservative answer to The Daily Show" not only does not, but cannot exist. And because I've got the time and because I've long wanted to write something about the relationship between ideology and comedy, I'm gonna take a few moments to explain why.

Well, more than a few. This is long. Go get a sandwich and a bag of chips, it's gonna be a while.

Ideology is very important to me; but so is humor. I do not understand how anyone can survive the buffetings of this nutty universe without a sense of humor. With comedy, what I care about first is whether it makes me laugh. Ideology is a secondary consideration. There's a lot of stuff that I think is hilarious which does not stand up to any kind of political test, and in fact if you are going to be a woman and be into humor you pretty much have to inure yourself to a certain amount of sexism. Most of the comedy that really speaks to me is written by men, singly or in teams, and you can see the results in how the women performers/characters are treated. But this is a discussion for another time. My point is: I'd be willing to watch a "conservative" political show if it was funny enough. But funny is something that seems to pretty much elude the would-be practitioners of right-wing political satire. Take, for instance, right wing comic strips like "Mallard Fillmore" and "Prickly City," and compare them to, say, "Bloom County" and "Boondocks." You see what I'm talking about?

So why is it that so much right-wing political humor just plain doesn't work--even for its target audience? Well, I have a few crackpot theories, but the one I think "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" most clearly demonstrates has to do with the basic conflict between comedy and authority. This is a point that was clarified for me by another friend, who in response to my comment that creativity and authoritarianism don't often align themselves, argued that disrespect for authority is the foundation of real comedy. I was initially skeptical, even though this holds true for most of the comedy that I personally like--especially Blackadder, in which the central joke around which the show is built is that the protagonist, messed up as he is, is smarter and saner than the barking mad authority figures who conspire to ruin his life. Over the course of history, however, comedy has generally been regarded as conservative because it's so formally dependent on closure and the happy ending. And I was thinking about the fact that the most popular American form of comedy that has emerged during my lifetime is the TV sitcom, which is more often than not based on the (albeit, now, usually dysfunctional) nuclear family. But then it occurred to me that most of these family-centered sitcoms are driven by constant challenges to the father's patriarchal authority. Even in The Honeymooners, a show that managed to turn a threat of domestic violence into a catchphrase, the comedy derives from the basic contrast between Ralph's attempts to assert himself as "king of the castle" and the obvious evidence that Ralph is not king of anything, even and especially at home. The form requires that this authority is always temporarily reinscribed at the end of the show--if only by the fact that the women and children who challenge the father's authority nevertheless remain trapped inside the family--but the challenge is reopened as soon as the next episode begins.

Obviously, challenging authority is a problem for a show which is trying to be funny while defending the agenda and worldview of the regime currently in power. "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" exists only in order to help the authorities consolidate their power, and the target audience for this show--hard-core FOX viewers--can be assumed to have a pretty strong authoritarian bent. So they're not going to want to see the show attack authority anyway.

This leads me to a related problem with a lot of right-wing satire, which is choice of target. Craig Ferguson's now widely publicized February 19 Late Late Show monologue includes a clear statement of what I have long believed is one of the cardinal rules of responsible and effective humor: mock the powerful, not the vulnerable. Mocking the powerful has the positive effect of reminding everyone that though these figures may be powerful, they are not superhuman, and can be resisted/outwitted/defied; it also has the therapeutic effect of validating the anger and pain we feel as we suffer for these people, and reminding us that in fact, it's not us, it's them. Mocking the vulnerable is just bullying, and all it does is pander to the audience's worst instincts. Right-wing pundits in the main either don't understand this rule, or have a seriously warped understanding of who's vulnerable and who's powerful. Take, for instance, Rush Limbaugh's hilarious impression of Michael J. Fox on Parkinson's medication. What made him think that was funny? Did it remind him of when he was a boy and they all used to band together on the playground to torment the kid with cerebral palsy? Or in his mind, is Michael J. Fox a servant of some vast international conspiracy of Parkinson's sufferers out to destroy all that is good in the world?

Unfortunately for "The 1/2 Hour News Hour," most of the powerful--George W. Bush and his lackey, minions, hangers-on, handlers, and corporate sponsors--are off-limits. But since the 2006 midterms, the Democratic Party has started to give the GOP more of a run for its money, so there's no reason this crowd couldn't have a good time mocking the Democratic Party power elite--the same way The Daily Show regularly does. And indeed, that's what their segment on Obama attempts to do. But that spot demonstrates another problem that a lot of right wing 'humor' manifests, which I will call irony deficiency.

Irony has been defined many different ways, but the definition I think works best here is that irony is what we see when we contemplate the gap between what appears to be and what is, and/or the gap between what is and what ought to be. The main project of The Daily Show is to satirize the media; and because the media are responsible for creating perception, and because the perception created by the media has lately become massively and outrageously divergent from anything one might call reality, and because reality right now just sucks so hard, every aspect of The Daily Show is about irony. Irony is, in fact, more foundational to the show than any specific ideology.

During a recent piece on global warming, for instance, one of TDS's "correspondents," John Oliver, proposed that in the name of environmental responsibility, TDS's foreign correspondents could stop actually flying to Paris, London, Baghdad, etc., and instead merely deliver their reports from the studio while standing in front of some kind of computer generated background of the place in question. Jon Stewart then tries to prevent Oliver from revealing to the TV audience that he is in fact standing in the studio right next to Stewart in front of a computer generated image of Paris. The results are hilarious--partly because of the delighted response of the studio audience, who have of course been in on this secret all along, and who love it that Stewart is being forced to come clean for the viewing audience. There's no explicit ideological point to any of that; but it does remind the show's audiences of how closely controlled the medium of broadcast journalism is, how little the viewers really know about what they are consuming, and how pathetic the reality of broadcast news becomes once you look behind the curtain. And that, I would say, is probably what most of the writers, producers, and performers would tell you the show was really about, after you got them past the bullshit about how all they care about is being funny.

The producers of "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" have no interest in incorporating this kind of irony into their program. Educating viewers about the various kinds of manipulation to which FOX News subjects them is most certainly not part of this show's project. So they will never be able to do any of the deconstructive work that helps make The Daily Show more compelling and more important than just a collection of parodic and topical skits strung together by an announcer. Because "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" is itself part of the FOX News machine, it's structurally prevented from challenging the special brand of insanity crafted and sold by its parent network. Nor, as part of the media organ consecrated to promoting the greater glory of the neoconservative agenda, are the show's producers interested in leading viewers to contemplate the gap between the world as Bush has remade it and the world as it could be. So they're pretty much SOL on the irony front.

But this in itself wouldn't have to be a problem, given the show's target audience. In my experience Americans in general and right-wing conservatives in particular have a lot of trouble with irony. One of the things I think right-wing evangelicals hate most about "gay culture" is its ability to render ironic concepts and categories which the Christian right desperately wants everyone to accept as absolute and universal truths. It's not a coincidence that the opposite of rendering something ironic is to play it "straight," nor is it arbitrary that the oblivious character who innocently feeds the setups to the comedian without ever getting any of the jokes is called the "straight man." The ability to perceive and appreciate irony is linked to the ability to acknowledge that the way your church and your state and your parents always told you things are isn't the only way for them to be. Since most of the neocons seem to really need the assurance from these authorities that there is only one way for things to be, they are naturally going to be kind of uncomfortable with irony.

So, OK, conservative political satire without irony for people who love authority but don't like irony, well, it could work. Except that when you eliminate irony, you're pretty much taking the teeth out of your satire. Once the irony's gone, basically you're left with...well, with what's on view in "The 1/2 Hour News Hour's" Obama segment.

Watching this, I was struck at first by two things. Thing one: "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" is at a major disadvantage, compared to The Daily Show, because it cannot really use the format. As I've explained, part of what keeps The Daily Show fresh is the fact that it keeps finding new ways to identify, mock, and exploit the absurdities of cable news itself. My current favorite is Stewart's "Meet me at camera three" segments, which exploit a convention that on 'straight' news shows is just a trick to create the illusion of change and development by shooting the same bullshit from a new angle. On The Daily Show, moving to camera three actually takes the show to a new place, where, magically, Stewart can directly address whatever powerful figure he's taking on in an intimate and often surprisingly raw confrontation. "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" restricts itself to treating the format as a platter on which to serve up a bunch of punch lines. The only thing that distinguishes the "1/2 Hour News Hour's" format from a regular local news broadcast is a certain deliberately exaggerated woodenness on the part of the two anchors. At least, I'm assuming it's deliberately exaggerated. It's a little hard to tell.

Second, there is an unfortunate reliance on what Addison and Steele used to call "false wit." False wit, as defined by the old Spectator team, is a category of wordplay based on arbitrary coincidence. Their prime example was the pun, in which the 'wit' exploits the fact that two or more words with different meanings and origins happen to sound similar. Their basic problem with "false wit," from their perspective was that it didn't reveal anything important; it just used these meaningless correspondences to generate a brief flash of amusement. The Daily Show is not above using false wit; in fact, it is one of the show's major formal elements, as a graphic featuring some sort of snippy little pun usually appears behind Stewart after he's about 10 seconds into the spot. However, The Daily Show, once again, uses this trick ironically, as a commentary on the mainstream media's use of this kind of wordplay to dumb down and mischaracterize the material they present. This is demonstrated in a recent segment on the infamous diaper-wearing astronaut, in which Stewart keeps suggesting various puns ("Space Oddity," "Astro-Nut," etc.) only to find that they have all already been taken by real news outlets. He has to content himself with the caption "Very Accomplished Woman in Tragic Local Story"--an accurate description of the story which, precisely because it is not reductive, sensationalizing, or cute, is of no interest to the 24-hour news channels.

"The 1/2 Hour News Hour" has taken "false wit" to a brand new place. Apart from one setup joke about Obama's rock-star popularity and a random fart reference, all the jokes in this segment rely for their meaning on arbitrary coincidence--most particularly the arbitrary coincidence of skin color. Almost all the jokes in that segment work by drawing a connection between Obama and another well-known and (to FOX's audience) sinister figure who has little in common with Obama except for not being white. For instance, the punchline to the revelation that Obama has admitted to cocaine use in adolescence is an endorsement from Marion Barry--a corrupt African-American Democratic politician with widely publicized drug problems. The next gag is a reminder that Obama's middle name, "Hussein," is the same as the last name of the Middle Eastern dictator we just executed--which carries in it the embedded reminder that Obama's last name is only one letter away from the first name of the Saudi Arabian terrorist we still haven't tracked down. This leads into an ad for "BO Magazine" (again, the joke is based on the arbitrary coincidence between Barak Obama's intitials and the playground acronym for "body odor") which is a parody of Oprah's "O" magazine--Oprah being, of course, another African-American public figure wildly popular with white middle-class Americans. One of the fake articles that flashes during the voiceover is titled, "Obama or Tiger Woods--Which Is More Diverse?", another comparison based on the apparently endlessly amazing fact that, like Woods, Obama is African-American.

I guess I can sort of see how this string of coincidences plays on the latent xenophobia and racism of your assumed target audience in order to demonize Obama...but even so, how is it funny? There's no element of surprise, there's no revelation, and it doesn't actually say anything about either Obama or the media's Obamania. All it says is, hey, Obama's black, just like these people. And he's also a Democratic front runner. And he's popular with the media. Isn't that HILARIOUS?

Uh...no?

Compare this with The Daily Show's running commentary on Obamania--which includes, for example, a segment in which "correspondent" Samantha Bee, after gushing about Obama's unlimited charisma, suddenly cries out ecstatically that he has cured her herpes--and you can see what a difference that layer of irony makes. The target here is not Obama himself, nor Obama's blackness, but the self-fueling media frenzy that has once again led to the total abandonment of the practices we normally think of as constituting responsible journalism. And, you know, the obligatory joke about Samantha Bee's sexual proclivities, which brings me back to my point about inuring yourself to a show's treatment of its female performers, but again, I digress. At any rate, my point is that because fundamentally this show is about the media, The Daily Show is mining a much richer vein of material than what's available to "The 1/2 Hour News Hour."

That's before we even get to the question of what's going on with the two anchors. I was watching their leaden "banter" and thinking, well, what are they really parodying here? It can't be The Daily Show, because apart from the opening shot of a studio audience that is then immediately replaced by a laugh track, it doesn't sound or act anything like The Daily Show. It can't be FOX News, because a) they can't do that and b) FOX News may be head-bleeding bad but it's not boring. In fact, it can't really be cable news at all, because the whole problem with CNN et al. is the constant hyperstimulation required by the 24-hour cycle, whereas what these anchors are modeling appears to be some sort of smiling tranquilized catatonia.

In fact, I thought, what this really reminds me of is the old Saturday Night Live Weekend Update with Dennis Miller et al. back in the 1980s. (Ah, Dennis Miller. A tragic demonstration of the pitfalls a comedian faces when he tries to reinvent himself as a conservative shill.) And then it came to me: they're parodying the liberal media. Which, of course, no longer exists. Which might explain the stylistic time warp.

So, anyone who's staying up nights worrying that "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" will actually become serious competition for The Daily Show, I think you can get a good night's sleep tonight. There is no way for a show written by right-wing hacks to do what The Daily Show does. Because what they don't seem to get is that The Daily Show did not start out as a "liberal" bastion. It started out as a comedy show about the news. It became the voice of America's pissed-off progressives, liberals, centrists, and non-extreme Republicans because for years it was the only place you could go on television to see people who understood the rampant, snarling, man-eating ironies generated by the Bush administration and its wholly owned subsidiaries. The Daily Show certainly has a clearly identifiable ideological viewpoint; but it's not just about ideology. It's about all the things that make humor work and that make humor necessary--including the sense we all have of being trapped inside the insanity of our country's two most crazed authority figures. And it's the best example I've come across in my lifetime of satire that actually works. The Daily Show has actually effected positive change--if only by pushing "Crossfire" off the air. I doubt we're going to see any of that change reversed by "The 1/2 Hour News Hour."

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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RedStateShame Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 04:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. Forget that show, the rest of the Fox News comedies are gold!
Like the sitcom where the mealy-mouthed liberal and the conservative guy trying to repress his homosexual tendencies run a halfway house with a crazy cast of cons (Ollie North, New Gingrich, Dick Morris, etc.)frequently dropping in? Comedy gold!!
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 06:39 AM
Response to Reply #1
21. Here's a review of the satirical Fox programme "The O'Reilly Factor"
Some of his best material satirises the fashionable, redneck view of the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", and last night's rabid references to "the loathsome French president" and "Jacques Chirac, that weasel" cleverly exposed the absurdity of America's current knee-jerk Francophobia.

To keep his viewers on their toes, he recently slipped in a subtle line about "those French, they can keep their francs", neatly mocking the ignorance of those Americans who don't even realise that the euro has been in circulation for years, and that the franc disappeared long ago.

Just as Randy Newman was misunderstood by those who thought his Short People song was serious, so there's a danger, I suppose, that dullards might not realise that O'Reilly is a clever joke, and that he's a spoof bigot, rather than a real one.

To make the joke absolutely clear, an array of semi-senile retired generals from central casting were wheeled into the studio to deliver ever more ridiculous lines, with one proudly announcing, "We've killed an estimated 95,000 Iraqi soldiers," (perhaps they have, but only in a wicked satire would they boast of such a terrible thing), while the presenter added, "We paid for this war, so we get to say who gets the contracts". My favourite cameo role was a Dr Peter Singer, a "liberal" philosopher from Princeton University, who nervously suggested that perhaps Iraqi civilian lives were just as valuable as American ones, and was promptly shouted down by O'Reilly. Another running joke on the show is that the presenter believes so fervently in America values of freedom of expression that he bawls out anyone who dares to disagree with him.

"Viewers know who provided the accurate coverage of the war and who was flat-out wrong," he thundered (a sly dig at his own employers, who slapped "Fox News Exclusive" on stories about chemical weapons finds that soon turned out to be non-existent), and that's the one flaw in this otherwise brilliant comedy format.

http://anglonoel.blogspot.com/2005/05/i-need-laugh.html... ]
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 06:21 PM
Response to Reply #21
64. Broken link - try this one
http://anglonoel.blogspot.com/2005_05_01_archive.html

And I'm not sure if the blogger was attempting satire or not!?!?

It may just be low comedy on the order of Nixon's Checkers Speech...
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Bob Loblaw Donating Member (159 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 04:46 PM
Response to Original message
2. Brilliant. nt
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 04:48 PM
Response to Original message
3. "Irony deficient"
That phrase popped out at me. I saw it and realized, That is why their comedy show is so anemic.

(insert rim shot here.)
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 05:01 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I so wish DU had a "rimshot" smiley.
I'd make one myself if I knew how.

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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rocktivity Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 05:10 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. One rimshot, coming up!

rocknation
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 05:15 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Excellent!
Where did you find that?

The Plaid Adder
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rocktivity Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Here at DU, actually
Edited on Mon Feb-26-07 06:04 PM by rocknation
Kidnapped it immediately! I use it instead of my normal sig graphic when I've got my snark on. And here are my takes on Rethug humor. Once again, our thinking dovetails beautifully:

...I've come to realize that when Stewart and Colbert claim to be in the fake news business, they're faking. The method in their madness is that they simply point out how fake the REAL news is.

Last night's TDS (featured a)...segment about how CNN turned...Anna Nicole Smith's..."Fridge of Death" into an investigation of the contents of the CNN break rooms refrigerator, followed by a segment on a group who likes to swim in the northern Atlantic (in the winter)...The story that's supposed to be "real" news feels fake; the story that sounds like it must be fake is real. And THAT'S why we laugh--even when it's the Dems who get skewered...

The Half Hour News Hour...seems to believe Stewart and Colbert are funny because they spend most of their time insulting conservatism. It tries to retaliate by insulting liberalism, but nobody's laughing--why? It's because The Half Hour News Hour is rooted in fake news. It can't condemn liberalism without exposing its own sins, so it can't help but congeal into a cringe-inducing caricature of neocon media. I mean, where does Fox News get off poking fun of Obama's media hype when they just finished trying to destroy him with a FALSE story that they STILL haven't retracted?


Actually, Fox satirizes the news quite well--during their regular programming!


rocknation

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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #6
23. Now, if there were some way to add it to the smiley list.... n/t
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blondeatlast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-28-07 08:24 AM
Response to Reply #3
70. Yup; that one is part of permanent vocabulary now.
The mark of a great writer is how often they are stolen from and PA has just entered the "great but vastly underappreciated" category.

:thumbsup" to Plaid adder (from another Blackadder fan.)
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KharmaTrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 04:53 PM
Response to Original message
4. Second On A Match
The Daily Show's unique place is that it was the first real satyrical newscast since the golden days of SNL (dare I admit Dennis Miller era...but then Franken did most of his writing) and was done on a Daily basis. The show came of age as did the rise of the cable noise channels that have and continue to be the show's main target. The humor the show employs the most is irony as it parodies many things by just showing it as it is...you don't need to write anything, just show it outside of the cable news fishbowl.

Faux's problem is they're attempting to parody a parody of themselves. The more they try to act like the Daily Show, the more they paint a target on their own corporate heads. The fact, the Daily Show is on a channel named "Comedy Central" gives it the distance from every being a parody of itself as opposed to the Faux bastarization that is trying to parody a comedy show that in turn highlights how surreal the Faux Noise world is.

The real deal is that for a majority of Americans, Faux is a tragic comedy...a propaganda machine that begs for ridicule and parody. The Daily Show speaks truth to power through humor and irony and has attracted a wide range of viewers who are smart enough not to believe the bullshit and to see through the hypocrisy and have a good laugh in the process.

Cheers...

:toast:
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BearSquirrel2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-01-07 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #4
77. Satirizing the 'liberal media'
Edited on Thu Mar-01-07 03:22 PM by BearSquirrel2
The problem with satirizing the "left wing media" is that it does not exist except for Air America and The Nation. Conservatives would rather chew off their arms then actually quote anything that real liberal media sources have to say. They'd rather point out their market performance and be done with it. So the entire effort is nothing but what they've been doing for the last 15 years, propogating the ridiculous lie that the media that their colleagues own doesn't serve their own masters. Or alternatively the big lie that the masters are liberals instead of entrepreneurs that take big advertising checks from GE, Cargill and Waste Management to keep their Sunday morning shows from criticizing them.

Beyond what the Plaid Adder said, rabid conservatives are not funny. They're MEAN. They're funny in the way that 60s klansmen jokes about how a man grasped before he succumbed to the nuce. They're funny in the way GW Bush mocked Carla Fay Tucker's plea to not be executed on TV. They're funny in Ronald Reagan's fuddle minded mock that he could destroy the world with the push of a buttom just like the one in the radio studio. They're funny in the way that Dennis Miller mocks people for not knowing the same obscure historical trivia that he probably memorized sherely for the sake of mocking those who don't.

Conservatives aren't funny, they're cruel.
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Mojambo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 05:22 PM
Response to Original message
8. Terrific piece. n/t
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lildreamer316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 05:46 PM
Response to Original message
10. Dare you to send bottles of Iron with an added "y" to the show.
Just thought it would be funny.
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Morgana LaFey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 05:50 PM
Response to Original message
11. Are they parodying the liberal media, or what they
THINK (imagine, delude themselves) is/was the liberal media?

I'll admit the only part of the show I've ever seen was that Obama segment you linked to: Wooden, dense, even leaden. (ANd damned near interminable as a result.) I didn't recognize ANYthing I've ever seen in there -- except, as I said, something like their protestations of what the liberal media was/is, but nothing remotely relating to reality.

Perhaps that's what you're saying.

Fascinating essay.
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BlueEyedSon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 12:02 PM
Response to Reply #11
39. Well, their audience has probably never seen the "liberal media"
I haven't and I have been looking for it for 6 years!
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Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 06:01 PM
Response to Original message
12. Great article as usual Plaid Adder
I have not seen this show, no stomach for it. So I appreciate the synopsis you gave about the Obama 'piece' (piece of racist diatribe)....ugh.

Heard Tom Brokaw say to someone recently 'you get more REAL news in the first 7 minutes of the Daily Show than you do anywhere else today'. I agree with Tom.

You are the best writer on DU.

Recommended.
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 06:36 PM
Response to Original message
13. K&R. "...reality right now just sucks so hard..."
A very thoughtful piece about the humor-deficient Right.

On another note Plaid, remember that the male correspondents have also had their sexualized characters as well. Rob Corrdry fantasizing about doing a monkey, offering BJ's to get into a restricted area, and his general willingness--nay, compulsion--to do just about any ol' sexual thing within reach.

Jason Jones' character likewise has a multitude of boundary issues.

I think B might be the first female character over the years on TDS to have been so heavily sexualized.

I don't know how much this matters to the point about sexism you make, it's just an observation. Samantha's character is at least in full charge of her super-charged sexuality.

I think the kinks in some of the characters may likewise be a commentary on the whole world of aggressive, sexualized Hollywood-esque news-people we now find ourselves saddled with in the media.
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 07:21 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Well, I'm not gonna push it.
It is true that TDS is willing to sexualize just about everyone at least occasionally, and I have to say Colbert's piece about being hurt about O'Reilly claiming that Stephen "blew him right away" is one of the funniest GD things I have ever seen on television.

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 07:45 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. I hear ya.
Edited on Mon Feb-26-07 07:47 PM by Kurovski
Yes, it was Colbert's "Vitameatavegamin" moment, to be certain.
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Bronyraurus Donating Member (871 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-28-07 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #14
74. I would add one thing
The problem with ideology being funny is that ideology, earnestly held, is not funny. It's supposed to be not funny. So when a specifically ideological, political message is combined with humor, it curdles because the viewer knows that the comedian is trying to make an earnest point. It's almost embarrassing to watch.

It's the reason why Dennis Miller's comedy has suffered for his political turn, among others.
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Erechtheides Donating Member (126 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 09:20 AM
Response to Reply #13
27. TDS: an equal opportunity offender
And then there was the one time in his glory days at TDS (as far as I know) that Stephen Colbert cracked himself up too much to deliver his report - during a segment in which he was peeling and lasciviously eating a banana while commenting on the official silence surrounding the "pre-futed, unspecified allegations" of Prince Charles' former butler (UK libel laws being what they are, news outlets couldn't even discuss in general terms the claims the former butler made in his book).
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #27
58. SNL actually did a very good British "press conference" on that matter
with innuendo as the form of communication to side-step libel. It was unusually good for SNL.

Comedy is by nature offensive, I think it dies when it is merely ugly and serves only to vent bile without an overall understanding of a situation and what motivates all parties. It's a very fine line. TDS gets the whole picture, and no one is spared. It is not biased toward any one party's foolishness or foibles, or even their terrible faults.
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Laurab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 07:54 PM
Response to Original message
16. KnR - very well written and true IMO
Another thing, which I don't think can be underestimated, is Jon Stewart himself. He's the one who changed the direction of TDS into a more political, topical show. He's a brilliant guy, and I think you have to be at least somewhat intelligent and informed to "get" the show, as well.

Jon's expressions, his demeanor, his voice changes - sometimes even those little things can crack me up. Their correspondents, for the most part, are also excellent. Jon, quite obviously, knows what he's talking about, which is evident in his interviews. I really don't think the show would be the same with a different host - except maybe Colbert.

Just about anyone who goes one on one with either one of them, is going to get a run for their money, because they're both so smart, and so damn quick.

I never though Faux could compete, and after watching the two minutes (all I could stomach), that I did, I was sure of it. It was just plain dumb.
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BearSquirrel2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-01-07 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #16
78. When Jon is gone.

Honestly, when Jon is gone, Bob Newhart should host. The Daily Show really takes Bob's motif of a world of crazy people surrounding reason and applies it to topic of news media.

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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 08:34 PM
Response to Original message
17. Exactly!! I have alway felt that
humor in defense of power was merely bullying and bigotry, but you have lined up all the OTHER reasons that it just plain doesn't work. Thank you for your thoroughness and your lucidity!
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 03:38 PM
Response to Reply #17
59. Molly Ivin's once wrote on that very topic about humor and power
ancient Greek comedy had servants getting the better of their powerful masters, and that is what has worked for centuries.

The powerful hold the cards as to correcting the absurdities, hypocrisy, and falsehoods in life. The have the most power to affect change for the best, and when they fail at that, willfully or otherwise--comedy can be the earned result.

Or something. :-)
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Skittles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 08:47 PM
Response to Original message
18. well done, Plaid Adder
I haven't seen this show but based on your report I can pretty much guess what it will be like - yes INDEED!
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 02:37 AM
Response to Original message
19. Kick,(nt)
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Gelliebeans Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 04:48 AM
Response to Original message
20. Brilliant Analysis
Edited on Tue Feb-27-07 04:48 AM by Gelliebeans
as always, Plaid.

You explained why the right wingers have and will miss the boat regarding comedy.
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cyborg_jim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 07:04 AM
Response to Original message
22. I can only concur
Well written.
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lapislzi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 08:52 AM
Response to Original message
24. Best enjoyed with a generous helping of Sontag
Thank you for a marvelous essay which only expands upon Sontag's seminal Notes on Camp. She would be proud.
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Erechtheides Donating Member (126 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 09:09 AM
Response to Original message
25. doublethink
Edited on Tue Feb-27-07 09:10 AM by Erechtheides
I think that Neocon media figures are well aware that authority and comedy don't mesh neatly; that's why they're at such pains to pretend that the "liberal media" exist. It's always amazed (and infuriated) me how clumsily they try to balance this position (the attendant underdog cache it presumably creates for them among Angry White Men) with their need as bullies (and presumably that of their target demographic) to see themselves as part of the winning team. Well, what amazes and infuriates me is how many people seem to buy this load.

P.S.
Opening an extra-long Plaidder post makes me feel like a kid on Christmas. Thanks!
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Erechtheides Donating Member (126 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 09:11 AM
Response to Original message
26. doublethink
I think that Neocon media figures are well aware that authority and comedy don't mesh neatly; that's why they're at such pains to pretend that the "liberal media" exist. It's always amazed (and infuriated) me how clumsily they try to balance this position and the attendant underdog cache it presumably creates for them among Angry White Men, on the one hand, with their need on the other hand as bullies (and presumably that of their target demographic) to see themselves as part of the winning team. Well, what amazes and infuriates me is how many people seem to buy this load.

P.S.
Opening an extra-long Plaidder post makes me feel like a kid on Christmas. Thanks!
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myrna minx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 09:21 AM
Response to Original message
28. Thank you for your your excellent analysis. n/t
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Why Syzygy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 09:29 AM
Response to Original message
29. How can anyone
especially people given a big microphone, be racist in today's age?
We fight ignorance and hate.
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philly_bob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 09:41 AM
Response to Original message
30. Revising my definition of Irony
I've always used the definition of irony I picked up somewhere in an English Lit class, "saying the opposite of what you mean."

Plaid Adder sez: "Irony has been defined many different ways, but the definition I think works best here is that irony is what we see when we contemplate the gap between what appears to be and what is, and/or the gap between what is and what ought to be."

Got me thinkin', PA. Generally, a good piece.

And I love brainy pieces on DU!
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #30
32. What you've got a hold of is a more specifically literary definition
Edited on Tue Feb-27-07 11:28 AM by Plaid Adder
It's based on the same idea: the difference between what's presented to you and what's really there. Something like, say, Swift's _Modest Proposal_ presents itself as a serious plan to stimulate the Irish economy but in fact is an attack on the forces he considers responsible for Ireland's poverty.

The OED online gives four definitions for irony. The first one is closer to your English teacher's:

1. A figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used; usually taking the form of sarcasm or ridicule in which laudatory expressions are used to imply condemnation or contempt.

The second one is closer to the one I was using:

2. fig. A condition of affairs or events of a character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected; a contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and fitness of things. (In F. ironie du sort.)

(see also: 2000 presidential election, 2004 presidential election)

_The Daily Show's_ use of irony also incorporates definitions 3 & 4:

3. In etymological sense: Dissimulation, pretence; esp. in reference to the dissimulation of ignorance practised by Socrates as a means of confuting an adversary (Socratic irony).

(TDS correspondents often use this kind of irony to draw out particularly insane interview subjects; this is also one of the major tactics Colbert uses in his interviews)

irony, n.

Add: <2.> spec. in Theatr. (freq. as dramatic or tragic irony), the incongruity created when the (tragic) significance of a character's speech or actions is revealed to the audience but unknown to the character concerned; the literary device so used, orig. in Greek tragedy; also transf. (Later examples.)

(this kind of irony is built into almost all of the reports filed by TDS's "correspondents," who never understand how insane what they're saying actually is)

Then, of course, there's the Blackadder definition of irony: "It's like goldy, and bronzy, only it's made of iron."

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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Ignis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 02:18 PM
Response to Reply #32
52. "It's like goldy, and bronzy, only it's made of iron."
I was really hoping to see Baldrick's definition of irony in the main article. :) It's almost as good as the "big blue wobbly thing that mermaids live in." ;)
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philly_bob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 08:41 PM
Response to Reply #32
66. Thanks. Death of irony widely exaggerated.
Thanks for the scholarly background, Plaid Adder.

Remember the reports that 9/11 marked the end of irony? Ho ho.

Like the collapse of soviet union marked end of history...

Keep up the fine writing.
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sutz12 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 09:43 AM
Response to Original message
31. Comedy, like all art, dies when the agenda precedes the creation.
Great essay!
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Locrian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #31
33. mainstream
Commedy dies when it becomes mainstream.
Because there is no edge.
Because it isnt cool.
Because mainstream is "average".

Comedy is the outside, the edges of that standard deviation curve.

You hit it with authority vs creativity. Authority doesnt want change.
Comdey is all about drawing new connections ie change.


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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #31
53. That's a good point. The "1/2 hour " show would appear to exist
merely to "catapult the propaganda".
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lectrobyte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 11:16 AM
Response to Original message
34. Great article, thank you!

Great comedy seems to always mock authority. The Marx Brothers. George Carlin. And speaking of deconstruction, watching the Colbert Report seems to destroy any "serious" news/talking head show for me.
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Mrspeeker Donating Member (671 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
35. You nailed it
great article!
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 11:42 AM
Response to Original message
36. I believe it's long been held in the UK that political satire can only thrive
under right-wing governments. Even Churchill described the Tory Party as an organised hypocrisy, though doubtless when he was a member of another party.
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deepthought42 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 11:57 AM
Response to Original message
37. Great article! :)
I won't be losing any sleep. I've seen that clip and it is utterly pathetic. They cannot even laugh at themselves, so how could I expect them (them being neocons, rethugs, etc) to be funny?
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BlueEyedSon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
38. Plaid Adder, you are a DU treasure. k&r
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krispos42 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
40. Um, wow.... just wow.... Rec #28 n/t
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NorCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 12:26 PM
Response to Original message
41. The number one reason why a conservative satire show will fail...
as being the anti-daily show is that TDS is not a liberal comedy show, it's just funny. The problem with the 1/2 hour news hour is they specifically target democratic politicians/candidates, whether or not there is something funny to be said, whereas the Daily show will make fun of anyone, provided it's funny enough. That's why the "conservative answer to the Daily Show" will fail, because you can't counter "funny" with "conservative."
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Alcibiades Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 01:27 PM
Response to Original message
42. Nepotism
Also serves to fuel the incompetence of the right, in comedy as in everything else. TDS has funny material because it is free to hire the best writers in the business. The entire right-wing media universe, however, is not based on talent but on nepotism. It has been seen how staffing at FEMA, for Iraq Reconstruction, for the White House has been based on a network of drinking buddies, frat brothers and co-religionists. Remarkably, mush of business, especially right-wing business, operates the same way. Merit need not apply--what matters is who you know. I would be shocked to find that Fox is not staffing its show with a legion of frat boys, Bob Jones alums, Ivy Leaguers, former congressional interns & the children of rightwingers.

Their fall will also be hastened by the fact that they fail to understand what hard work it is to be funny, day in day out. Like most elites, they imagine that they could do useful work, but will be shocked to find that connections fail to make their product any better. (I am using elite here in its correct sense, of course, not the one manufactured by the right).
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
43. once again a well written comment
Edited on Tue Feb-27-07 01:48 PM by madrchsod
yes fox news is funnier than this comedy program..
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Theres-a Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 01:50 PM
Response to Original message
44. **APPLAUSE**
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Tsiyu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 01:51 PM
Response to Original message
45. I don't get FU(X) so I haven't seen any of the tripe


you describe. Your assessment tells me I'm not missing a thing - except maybe another reason to laugh at conservatives.

A friend and I had a discussion about this very topic recently - what makes something funny? We were listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on NPR at the time.

I brought up Prairie Home Companion - which i adore - and she remarked that she often couldn't listen to Garrison Keillor (sp?) because he seemed to have such a mocking tone toward the weak and he was tied to symbolism that only meant something to white, midwestern people.

She is a well-read, wonderful person who is also rather sensitive and always kind, so i tried to understand her position and began to listen more closely to the show and had to admit that she was right about his condescending, mocking tone at times. And about the importance of white, middle-american culture to the show. But then, that's what he knows best so he can mine that culture and make us laugh at Minnesotans right along with him.

Still, I often find the show hilarious but I can now see why others might not see the humour.

Intriguing topic, PA.

P.S. I love your brain. :loveya:


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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 02:00 PM
Response to Reply #45
48. It's been a long time since I used to listen to PHC
I used to really enjoy it, but I gave up on it after a while. There are still some bits that I always enjoy when I catch them on NPR--the "Guy Noir" segments, for instance. And I always loved the fake ads for Powdermilk Biscuits, etc. But I don't know much about what it's like now.

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
46. I have a shorter reason why the show doesn't work...
it's the classic example of the straight man telling the punch line. It just doesn't work.
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underpants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 02:00 PM
Response to Original message
47. Excellent
It is strange how irony and satire just whizzes past their head. Of course if it didn't Fox News itself would have never got off the ground (5 years after it began).

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MessiahRp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #47
63. That's sort of their problem as a whole isn't it?
Being able to pick up irony would probably mean that these people have critical observation and thinking skills. They'd be able to see the hypocrisy in their beliefs, in their leaders, in their policy towards others if they had these skills and could understand irony. So they do what Barbara Bush does when people asked about Iraqi casualties. Shut it off.

Ignorance is bliss.

Rp
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JawJaw Donating Member (574 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 02:03 PM
Response to Original message
49. "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH"
The thing that really defines the poor standard of this show is the forced audience braying and guffawing at any utterance remotely qualifying as a "joke".

Maybe they put something in the complementary studio kool-aid.

Maybe it's just crappy canned laughter...

pathetic.
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #49
50. I'm pretty sure that laughter is canned.
Nothing HUMAN would laugh at those jokes!

Seriously, I don't think this show's writers felt confident enough about the material to expose it to the test of a live audience. Which is another thing TDS has that a lot of conservatives don't see the point of: accountability. The TDS audience is pretty forgiving, but still, stuff that's funny works and stuff that doesn't, doesn't.

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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Ignis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 02:10 PM
Response to Original message
51. Ms. Adder -- Thank you!
I've read many of your pieces on DU, and they've all been stellar. This particular piece, however, was absolutely brilliant. Spot on! :)
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ProfessorGAC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
54. Nicely Done, P/A!
Very interesting read.
The Professor
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 03:03 PM
Response to Original message
55. Thomas Huxley moment here
I understand that when Thomas Huxley first heard about the theory of evolution, he said something like, "it's so obvious, I can't believe I didn't think of it."

I knew that conservatives couldn't be funny by definition, no matter how clever they are. But until I read this: the basic conflict between comedy and authority. , I didn't know why.

Excellent. (Imagine C. Montgomery Burns here if you must.)
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Norrin Radd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 03:22 PM
Response to Original message
56. There is a parody of that lame show on YouTube:
Edited on Tue Feb-27-07 03:28 PM by Progs Rock
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 03:27 PM
Response to Reply #56
57. Now THAT is funny.
Edited on Tue Feb-27-07 03:39 PM by Plaid Adder
Somewhat crude, but effective. And whoever made it a) totally gets why that segment sucked and b) was able to find, probably just by walking over to the next cubicle and asking if anyone wanted to be in a YouTube movie, two people more capable of entertaining an audience than the two anchors on the actual show.

Also, I love the increasingly insane laugh track.

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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Norrin Radd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-28-07 02:29 AM
Response to Reply #56
69. Oops! YouTube removed the Conan clip with Obama.
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Mr. Ected Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 03:39 PM
Response to Original message
60. Hitler Wasn't Really A Funny Guy, You Know
It's hard to generate laughs when everybody hates you.

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iamthebandfanman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
61. Can you have a show that ADMITS its fake news...
on a network that only does REAL news?
lol
well, not that fox ever really has real news...but...


i mean, can you have pure entertainment shows on a 24 hour news network? doesnt that like... make it not a news network?
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The Wizard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
62. Perhaps
Edited on Tue Feb-27-07 03:49 PM by The Wizard
they can sign country and western comic Dennis Miller. Word is they had to pay people to be in his audience on CNBC. After SNL Miller failed at everything, but for a brief HBO stint. He made a choice to appeal to those who couldn't understand much of the language he used. I anxiously await Miller's plunge into selling waterfront property on late night TV infomercials. Or, pushing a shopping cart full of cans and bottles down Market Street in Newark, NJ.
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Presidentcokedupfratboy Donating Member (994 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 08:06 PM
Response to Original message
65. Great essay
Edited on Tue Feb-27-07 08:06 PM by Presidentcokedupfrat
The problem with the "1/2-hour Comedy Hour" is that they try so hard to be funny, when they don't have to try at all. The show's on Fox, isn't it by definition a parody of journalism?
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Tekla West Donating Member (270 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 08:52 PM
Response to Original message
67. To do comedy you first have to have a sense of humor

Wonderful commentary there. As someone who wrote comedy for a long time I could not agree more. First of all, it seems basic, but unavoidable to mention that in order to do comedy, you have to have a sense of humor. You can not see it as a threat, which is the first place they fail. They see TDS and Cobert as some sort of threat, rather than as competition. Now, one show is on Fox, a "news" network, and the others are on the comedy channel, so from the start there is a different level, and for the 1/2 Hour its a handicap.

You are dead on with the remarks about authority, even more so, you have to have a 'nothing is sacred' approach, which for most of these people is impossible by definition. TDS rips on the Ds as much as on the Rs, when they can. Its not their fault per se that the Rs are working overtime writing so much material for them. Which brings me to the next point, irony.

What you said was true, but irony is mild (you do have to see it first however - back to the having a sense of humor deal) but TDS and TCR are real satire, and satire is a much more brutal and vicious kind of comedy, because its a double edged sword. Take some of the stuff from the old Harvard/National Lampoon. They once did a parody of the racial pride stuff then floating in common circulation called "Our White Heritage" which promoted the many accomplishments of white people. Now on the surface it was a flat out parody of those tracts, and worked well as such. But the deeper satire was on White Culture, and that was brilliant.

You mention that the 1/2 Hour show uses lots of puns, and there is a reason that puns tend to be met with groans and not a chuckle - and never with a belly laugh. Because they are dumb. They can never make it to the level of the tears running down your face while you pass the milk you just drank through you nose - Monty Python funny -the kind of stuff that I see on a regular basis on the Colbert segment "The Word." I know better now then to even be trying to drink something or eat when they do that bit because from time to time when they hit it right (and its no more than a simple pointing out the contradictions of the situation or speeches) its killer material.

Belaboring the obvious is only funny to the stupid. Its that juxtaposition that is perfect. So, Barak and Tiger are black - no humor there. But Al Sharpton being a possible relation to Strom Thurmond and vice-versa is hysterical. You can't write humor like that. And its because the two of them so perfectly deserve just exactly that. And because they got to be powerful by playing exactly on that.

And, its because they both are powerful too. You are so right when you stated 'mocking the vulnerable is just bullying, and all it does is pander to the audience's worst instincts.' Rush, who back in the 90s WAS funny, back when he was doing the stuff on the Congressional Bank ("Oh Congressman, you don't need to deposit money into the Congressional Bank to write checks") but when he did the trip on M. Fox, well that wasn't funny at all, and he did a lot of damage to his cause by doing that. (Don't tell him though, he is busy hanging himself, so let him sway.)

Lenny Bruce was funny because he took on the Pope, the President, and J. Edger Hoover. He didn't pick on homeless people. Even his gay material was at the expense of those who hated them. I.E. the vintage "tits&ass" routine. And in choosing the target right is the difference between Rush and Lenny.

Lenny also knew - and here is the real Achilles Heel of conservative humor - that in order to be funny, you have to be able to laugh at yourself first. Think of any great comedian - Roseanne, The Smothers Brothers, Robin Williams, Don Rickles and one trait they share is that they are funny before they even say a word. They can stand on stage and make people laugh - and make no mistake about it, they are comfortable with people laughing AT them, because they first knew how to laugh at themselves. That is why Rush will never make it to the big time, I've never heard him make a joke at his own expense - though the possible material can be measured in volumes. Jerry Springer on the other hand knows well why he is funny, which is why his radio stuff is touched with such good humor.

Its going to be hard for Fox to compete with TDS/TCR because they are not funny, where over at the comedy channel, they are. Simple difference sure, but....
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BartInPC Donating Member (27 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-27-07 09:52 PM
Response to Original message
68. Great job!!
I saw this show, and thought about giving an in-depth reply like Adder here...but just couldn't give it the time it required.

The show truly is an abomination and the laughing was the creepiest part of it all. It sounded so forced, and having no relation to the actual "entertainment" level of the jokes. Many of them were so standard fare too...Hillary is a lesbian...boy, haven't heard that one before from the right.
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Chowlie Donating Member (47 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-28-07 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
71. Wonderful piece
Though your focus was narrow, this is one of the most insightful political pieces I have read in years. One thing that particularly struck me was Coulter saying that bit about "converting them to Christianity"... and I turned to my wife and said "Um... yeah but... she actually said that." Is quoting your own insane quotes funny? I don't think it is.

Thanks for writing such a brilliant article.
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DuaneBidoux Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-28-07 02:21 PM
Response to Original message
72. Great piece Plaid
My analysis isn't quite so intellectual but I think one of the problems is quite simply that virtually the entire conservative moments exists to mock and torture and make fun of "the other," and the weak. Is that funny? I simply don't think so.
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walldude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-28-07 02:37 PM
Response to Original message
73. To have any sense of humor to begin with you have to be able
to laugh at yourself. Do you know a single republican who doesn't take themselves too seriously?
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Joey Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-28-07 06:29 PM
Response to Original message
75. The 1/2 Hour News Hour is the worst show ever
The people at Faux News must really be crazy to have put that show on the air. It's a low point in the history of mankind. It's THAT bad. A bunch of high school students could do better. Forget politics - its just an awful production. It makes Rush Limbaugh's failed TV show look good. Thats how bad it is.
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DFW Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-01-07 03:07 PM
Response to Original message
76. It's the nature of the beast
The radical right is trying desperately (and unsuccessfully) to make
their inherent nastiness and superiority complex into something they
can laugh at instead of something we can laught at. The equation just
doesn't add up. Angry and nasty isn't funny. Their "I hate Hillary" and
their "I hate Obama" and "I hate Bill" jokes are just not funny. Hate
isn't funny.

Bumbling attempts at trying to fool a nation that is tired of being taken
for a collective fool are funny. Incompetence packaged as patriotism is
funny. Clumsiness and incompetence have always been easy to make fun of,
from ancient times to Shakespeare to Gogol to TDS. "I hate Hillary" will
never be funny, while even Republicans can (and do) laugh at Bush:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7dPISoH6Ok&mode=related...

It's gotten to the point where some of them even admit it.
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nxylas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-02-07 02:45 PM
Response to Original message
79. Does anyone know the ratings for this show?
Particularly the ratings for the second show, if that has been broadcast yet (series premiers always have atypically high ratings due to people tuning in out of curiosity)?
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