Thursday, June 12, 2008

Washington Post “uncovers” the secret and insidiously mind-altering political power of comedians. Hey, this isn’t funny!

You and I and the rest of us should have known. No sooner does the Los

It all depends on what your
 definition of “definition” is

The problem, says the thrust of a recent article in the Washington Post that humorlessly dissects political humor, is that not only are people getting their news from comedians, but that comedians are in effect “defining” politicians by making fun of them.

One could look at the first part of their complaint, and wonder aloud, “Hey, if people – let’s say in the Washington D.C. metro area – are getting their news from the Colbert Report instead of the Washington Post, could that be telling us something about the Washington Post?”

Only asking.

Hell hath no fury like
a newspaper scorned

Personally, I’m beginning to see a pattern here. Blogs – as reported in my previous cranky post – begin scooping newspapers for news. Poof! Blogs come under the Los Angeles Times’ critical scrutiny.

People also start “getting news from comedians.” Another poof! The Washington Post tells us why political humor isn’t anything to laugh at.

Of course, the Washington Post “balanced” its news by quoting two funny guys – Gary Trudeau the Doonesbury creator, and Ben Karlin, the Colbert Report co-creator – who say, in essence, that humor has barely more power to destroy a politician than a whoopee cushion under your grandma’s rocking chair can kill termites.

A funny thing about truth

Trudeau put his finger on what it’s really all about when he told the Washington Post reporter, “For something to be funny, the audience has to be in a position to sense the truth of it. It has to be primed. Satire can crystallize what's already in the air, but it can't really put it there.”

That may be why there aren’t a whole lot of conservative comedians. Even among their doting followers, the existing handful of conservative yuckmeisters tend to get applause rather than real laughs. That also may be why they aren’t getting much TV exposure. Do you really want to say at the end of a comedy show, “I applauded so hard my sides hurt?”

The Washington Post seems to have missed this point.

We report. You read.
Then we un-report.

The Washington Post did take the trouble, after quoting Trudeau and Karlin, to re-un-balance their balanced reporting. So they went out and found a college professor to say something grumpy:
Russell L. Peterson, an American studies professor at the University of Iowa, believes comics who refute satire's power are purposefully insincere. "But they have a good reason for being disingenuous," adds the author of "Strange Bedfellows: How Late-Night Comedy Turns Democracy Into a Joke." "Their comic license depends on them denying that."
Gosh, Russell, at least nobody will ever have to issue you a comic license.

1 comment:

Geff said...

I refuse to believe anything political until I hear these guys weigh in:

If dunlap & jackie says its okay then by golly it's ok.