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April 30, 2006

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Comments

two_shoes

People who are using the word "courage" just don't have the balls to say balls. Most comedians would have pandered to the audience, so Colbert deserves credit for bringing some sting. He was willing to make clear that what is going on with the Administration is NOT FUNNY, even to a comedian.

Kelsey

I disagree that courage is only found when one's life is at risk. I think courage is when there's an easy, unoffensive path to take and a hard one and you take the hard. Colbert life might not have been at risk, but I'm sure countless people were so offended that they'll refuse to watch his show, and he knew that and kept going anyway. That's not brave?

Daniel

No, Kelsey, it is not brave in my opinion. I would challenge you to demonstrate that his performance will turn viewers away. He knows who his audience is, and it is to them that he was working. Far from showing the courage of his convictions, he pandered to his people. Which is fine by me, actually. I won't stop watching. But then again, I don't see him as the savior of the country, either. Read the comments on Joe's post. They are overwhelmingly positive.

BTW, if by poll standards 65% of Americans view Bush in a dark light, Colbert's flame is burning at the wrong end. Scathing satire works against overwhelming public opinion, not with it.

Dunbar

Boy, Daniel, you missed the point. Scathing satire also works when the room you are in is overwhelmingly against you. Did you notice the lack of laughter in that room?

Sorry. Colbert is the bravest man on the planet today, if you ask me.

susan

maybe so and maybe no.

what I saw was that Bush heard things being said that probably had not penetrated his bubble by any other means. in the audience quite a few people saw Colbert saying things they wish that they might have said, whether in the press room or in print.

"speaking truth to power" is a brave thing indeed. it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Frank Rich is on the Reporr on Tuesday. that should be fun

Daniel

Dunbar,

You just proved my point. His audience was waiting for him. Lack of laughter doesn't equate to courage, just bad delivery or bad material.

Vercingetorix

A fire-breathing bigot would probably have more courage than Colbert; he would certainly have more to feat in terms of backlash. And that's kind of the point. You can tell racy jokes that are spot on, in delivery, in substance, in sheer wit, but if you invite Andrew Dice Clay to a NOW chapter, it would be a miserable performance. Or Margeret Cho to a NRA meeting, or the Kings of Comedy to a political event.

Wrong words, wrong audience, wrong message, virtually wrong everything for that time, that place. Bush certainly tuned him out immediately. Republicans thought it was classless. No one is impressed. Might as well have done the shtick in Japanese for all the good it did anyone.

Name

You sound jealous.

If it took no courage to do what Colbert did, the press corps would have pointed out the half-truths of the administration before the Iraq invasion.

They knew that not doing so would cost many American servicemen their lives, yet they went along to be able to continue getting a seat at White House press briefings.

It takes character to avoid falling prey to fear and greed.

Dunbar

Daniel,

Proved your point? I don't think so.

So many of the lines delivered were so scathingly true, they were funny. But they were funny in the way Shakespeare's irony is funny or the way a Twain skewers a hypocritic society. I gather you just don't get it.

I think that the level of satire we saw last night is the kind of humor that only certain people would understand. The kind of people honest with themselves. Most of the people in that room don't like to be shown what hypocrites and liars they are.

Hence, they didn't laugh. No, Mr. Colbert proved that brilliant satire didn't die with Twain after all.


Vercingetorix

I gather you just don't get it.

I think that the level of satire we saw last night is the kind of humor that only certain people would understand. The kind of people honest with themselves. Most of the people in that room don't like to be shown what hypocrites and liars they are.

Whaaa waaaa. Wow, man, I mean, really...wow. That's probably it, man.

Like it should have been a teachable moment for the neothuglicons. Instead, Bushhitler's humorless goons will hijack this moment like he did for 9/11 and not stop and think 'why, oh why, do they hate me? What did I ever do? How can I make amends?' Dummy just doesn't get it and it was all their fault...

whisper

Daniel, you are right in that he played to his usual TV audience (and promoted his show a couple of times as well). That is why he used his TV persona. However, I still think you miss Dunbar's point. Comedy, as an art, is at its best when causing the audience to be on the edge of uncomfortableness. When comedy is like a business presentation, aimed at pleasing its audience then it is amusing but easily forgettable.

When the audience is unsure of what is real and what is a joke, whether to be quiet or to laugh, that is truly edgy humour. Think of Richard Pryor talking about his drug use or setting himself on fire. Obviously Colbert was not close to that seminal performance but the principle is the same. That audience was not going to laugh and Colbert knew it would show on TV. I guess we will have to differ on whether it takes courage to deliberatly eschew easy laughs on arguably the biggest night of his career so far.
The compliment might be overused but I might also point out that in the comedy world I think it is routine to call it "brave" when a comedian deliberately points out the shortcomings of the audience knowing he/she might get heckled or booed off the stage.

You said "The easiest place in the world to be snarky is Washington D.C"
Did you really mean to say that in official functions, where the President is on the dias, speakers routinely indulge in snark? Instead of kissing ass like they usually do to people in power?

Btw you contradict yourself with that line. If it is that easy to be snarky in DC why did Colbert not get more laughs in a room filled with DC folks?

Daniel

You guys are killing me! You are so funny.

Colbert's wasn't satire because I got it. Or didn't get it. If you read carefully, you will see that my scorn is for those who are elevating Colbert to Twainhood much more than for Colbert himself.

yawn

I like the Colbert Report, but I cringed when I watched last night. It had nothing to do with whatever point he was trying to make or the audience. It had everything to do with his delivery. I had a gut feeling(pun intended) that he would choke just seeing the way he was throwing down the wine before he went up.

Dunbar

Whisper, to add to your point, not only the "DC Folks" but Colbert delivered biting satire to Bush's FACE. He would look over at him and talk about the man's 32% approval rating, calling the other 68% "backwash."

If that doesn't take courage, I honestly don't know what does. I was actually scared for him!

I was uncomfortable, too, watching it. The truth was being spoken TO THE MAN himself. I didn't know what to expect.

And Daniel isn't counting those in the audience that felt the way I did. I don't think many in the audience knew what to do. After all, this is a President who wants to put these same people in jail (journalists) if they tell the truth about something. And here, right in front of them, was a man who was telling the TRUTH. To. his. face.

Dunbar

Daniel -- it wasn't satire because you got it? or didn't get it?

What in the heck are you talking about? I "get" Twain's satire... is it only satire if you "don't" get it?

Wow. Scorn me for elevating Colbert to Twainhood. There aren't many Twains around, so seeing someone even remotely close got me all giddy.

puredesighee

If it was so easy to be snarky, to speak truth to power in Washington D.C., then reporters would have been doing it for years - instead of cowtowing to this administration and transcribing rather than reporting. If you think it is easy to look the leader of the most powerful nation on earth right in the eyes, and call him, directly, on his BS - then you are either naive or lying.

That's like saying it took no courage for Marting Luther King to give his speech in Washinton D.C. Or that Mark Twain had no courage. I mean, please. I understand your attempt to go against the grain with your opinion, but it doesn't hold up to reality. How many people, during Bush's whole life, have told him TO HIS FACE that he was full of shit? Of course it took balls of steel. And of course they weren't laughing because he was SO DAMN GOOD. I had tears running down my face at home, as did any reality based person in the world. And every conservative who watches will be seething with shame and pretending to not be affected.

Brilliant. Classic. And will live for a long, long time, while Bush's little comedy shtick is already forgotten.

RW

Speaking of satire, Dunbar, you're over-the-top hyperbole (Bush "wants" to jail journalists?) is starting to be come ripe bait. Calm down, Kanye, calm down. Good lord.

Colbert is a comedian. Did he make the crowd laugh? No? End of discussion.

RW

Sorry, should be "your" and "become" above (for all the net-nannies out there).

zjemi

Ah, it is so important to count the laughs and not the content, isn't it.
I was watching it on television and stopped laughing because I began wondering if they'd let him finish. It was amazing. I expected the secret service to hustle him off stage. I can only suppose they let him finish because they don't know how to handle embarrassing situations, any more than with Katrina or Iraq. The spin today that Bush was funny and Colbert wasn't goes along with: The conditions in Iraq are improving (note that Condi had a flak vest on last week), No one expected Katrina to flood New Orleans, secret wiretaps are not illegal, no one in the administration tried to discredit Joe Wilson by ruining his wife's career, the U.S. does not condone torture, Bush is the Decider, and so on. Colbert wasn't the best political commentary this century? Yeah, right.

Dave

Daniel, I agree that it may be "a failing prospect to attempt to direct satire at those who are beyond it." But listening to his speech, I wasn't hearing comedic satire. I heard a flat-out indictment, made directly to the faces of those he was indicting. It was only wrapped in the thinnest veil of comedy because, after all, that's what he was presumably brought there to do.

As for cajones, it's easy to criticize someone behind their back, or protected by the distance afforded by a newspaper article, or TV pundit editorial, or even a blog. But to criticize someone to their face, in public, and especially as harshly as Colbert did, can *NOT* be a comfortable think to do. It's easy to talk big behind someone's back. It's quite another to deliver the goods directly in person. And THAT's what took courage. Your comparison to Iraqis standing up to Saddam is irrelevant. I don't think Colbert's viewed as a having courage here b/c he may have to withstand retribution. He simply had the courage to stand in front of the President and the media and tell them all the things many of us would like to say, but frankly probably wouldn't have guts to actually do were we given the chance. And yes, that took cajones. Big, huge, steel ones.

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