Thursday, February 15, 2007

Just Not So Funny

So FOX News is trying to make a show to beat the show that was created to mock their network's News Entertainment style shows. You can not make this stuff up. The Daily Show came out of Comedy Central's early "Indecision" campaign, making fun of the world of politics and the pundits who love it. It seemed a natural jump to a permanent series, considering its popularity and CC's need for more material. The evolution from celebrity interviews, with fake news segments, to generating its own genre, mixing the real and the fake in a way that turned into pure comedy gold is another story, but its success can not be ignored. The success comes from a mix of audience's cynical reaction to bad governance, the meshing of entertainment and journalism, and actually being funny.

This is the complete opposite of what FOX is trying to pull off. The Daily Show and its sister spin off, The Colbert Report, are shows with naturally evolved formats, created by and written by comedians. The drivel I saw was the creation of network marketing people who have never done a bit of comedy in their lives. The agenda on the CC's shows may lean to the left, but there really is a moderate, centrist tone, that only looks leftist. The jokes fall generally into the category of "Wouldn't it be funny if..." and manage to be absurd, and at the same moment, timely and understandable. The audience is made of real people, whom the respective hosts cojole and generally interact with (as all good hosts should), and the tone is generally playful, which is what marks it as a comedy show.

The FOX show, as the clip indicates, lacks all the above. There is nothing natural about the show. The obvious lean to the right comes across more boorish than subversive (really, how subversive can the most power political party in American be?). The jokes seem to fall into the "This group we disagree with is stupid" category, and seem more mean spirited than playful. The comparison of Barack Obama to Marion Barry, because of their drug use, could have been funny, but let's face facts, Marion Barry is not the only one of this country's leaders to have a past of drug abuse and corruption (something not only democrats have their noses in, and not only democrats forgive easily). He was just black and a democrat. The joke therefore was not really funny. It was just an attack on Obama and democrats. If you watch the clip, the audience is not real, and the laughter sounds like it was stolen from a 60s sitcom. Finally, the hosts are as wooden as my desk, and remind me of robots trying to do a Richard Pryor impression. They have about all the charisma and character of Richard Nixon. After he passed away.

Can conservaties be funny? Perhaps. I could see some small government, low tax, low spend, get government out of our lives conservative having the type of classy cutting
dry wit that could make people laugh. But comedy requires intelligence, knowledge, wit, timing, open mindedness, and a willingness to try new things. Those traits don't seem to mesh with much of the modern conservative movement's thinking. Perhaps comedy will always be in the arena of the center and the left? Until the day I see an actually funny conservative comedian (and trust me, I take in a ton of comedy) I will continue to believe conservatives can not be funny.

1 comment:

Jonathan Moore said...

Interesting. I know that conservatives can be funny, but people aren't used to this type of humor. I heard the same criticism last month when a politically incorrect comedy site called was launched. It's going to take time before people get used to conservative humor.