Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Making Colbert go away

A lot has been made of the fact that Steven Colbert wasn't funny in his Press Corps speech from this past Saturday. Check out the video here ... ... he played the show 'in character' and frankly, in case people haven't noticed over his time on The Daily Show, and now the Colbert Report, a lot of his characters are intentionally not funny.

Remember when John Stewart went on Crossfire a year or so ago. Again, people said he wasn't funny, and he wasn't ... he wasn't trying to be. In Stewart's case, he was being himself, and making a point ... in Colbert's case he was playing a character and making a point. But if you've watched even a moment of Colbert, its pretty clear (to me anyway) that sometimes the point is more important than making people laugh out loud ... like Dennis Miller or Bill Maher, Colbert's 'comedy' often transcends the notion of funny.

He doesn't try to hide that one his show ... when he plays a character, he plays it over the top, to the end and in your face. There's no doubt where he stands, and his humour often comes from the fact that he is actually saying what he's saying. He was hired to speak at the dinner ... did anyone think to ask him, specifically, to be funny?

Perhaps he wouldn't like me saying this, in this way ... maybe he thinks he IS always 'laugh out loud' funny. But form my perspective, he routinely uses irony and sarcasm to form his humour, and while it may not make you laugh, ironic and sarcastic satire is a time honoured comedy tradition.

Maybe Colbert set out to get up Saturday night and make people laugh out loud. Thats certainly possible, but it seems to me it would go against his character. No, I think he said precisely what he wanted to say, and he's getting JUST the reaction he wanted to get. His point was NOT to make people laugh ... it was to make them say "OMG ... did he actually just say that with Bush 10 feet from him????" That was the joke ... the joke was that someone was actually smart enough, or dumb enough, or whatever, to book Colbert 10 feet from President Bush.

I could be wrong ... but I think Saturday night went precisely as Steven Colbert intended. The more people complain, the more he smiles. The joke is still running folks ... and everyone whose trying to say he wasn't funny on Saturday is a running part of it. That's just it ... he wasn't trying to be funny, not in a laugh out loud sorta way. I think, frankly, the real joke is hilarious.


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