Like A Drunk On A Lamp-Post

The usual suspects on the left are applauding Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last week. Now, when Colbert is funny, he’s funny. The Colbert Report can be a pretty deft skewering of Bill O’Reilly’s amazingly pretentious blather about “the folks.” But Colbert’s performance was just painfully unfunny – about as subtle as a brickbat to the forehead, amateurish, and generally more polemic than humorous.

Colbert’s performance was probably a political Rorschach test – those who think that he was “speaking truth(iness) to power” undoubtedly loved it, while everyone else (including those in the room apparently) were more than a little shocked at Colbert’s lack of tact. What’s interesting here is the irony involved – Colbert’s show is about skewering the pretentiousness of blowhards like Bill O’Reilly, but Colbert’s act itself was incredibly pretentious. Bloggledygook does an excellent job of providing some perspective:

Similarly, it has become tiresome to hear talk of courage in this case, as if Colbert is in some fear for his life, but chose to stand against the fascist state and mock the president and media. Rubbish. The easiest place in the world to be snarky is Washington D.C. The Capitol virtually runs on snark. I pointed out that courage would be exemplified by an Iraqi mocking Saddam (when still in office) where speaking against the government carried very real danger.

The other point that begs to be made is that the shrieking about police states, etc. demonstrates just how humorless much of Colbert’s audience is. There is less comedy being made than the fiction that Colbert and Jon Stewart “speak” for some voiceless mass. In the age of the ubiquitous opinion, screaming at the top of one’s lungs that one’s speech is being stolen is absurd and in itself, the best form of satire practiced today.

I suspect Colbert’s attempt at satire is being treated by the left in the same way a drunk treats a lamp-post – for support, not illumination. By echoing all the right talking points, Colbert ingratiated himself with those whose anti-Bush monomania consumes all – but undoubtedly lost everyone else. There were a few funny jokes here and there (the “re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg bit was brilliant), but overall it committed the one mortal sin in comedy – it just wasn’t funny.

3 thoughts on “Like A Drunk On A Lamp-Post

  1. The hindenberg bit was pretty good… but I also liked the line about Iraqi government:

    “I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.”

    Anarchists, take note.

  2. While I served in Baghdad Saddam had passed a law, which was descrivbed as the joke decree. It mandated the death penalty for anyone lampooning, ridiculing or in any way making fun of Saddam or the Baath Party. I believe the penalty for making fun of the president is being forced into a closet with Hillary Clinton for an hour.

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