Colbert's Schtick - Dude, It's the Setting

In spite of the fact that I can't read massive significance into it (um, mainly because it isn't there....), which makes it less than essay worthy - I thought I'd note Stephen Colbert's Big Moment at the White House Correspondent's dinner; everyone else is, so I may as well pile on. Besides, it's kind of an interesting little moment at root.

If you read the transcript, which appeared at the end of this complaint against Big Media's perceived silence about the skit, you'll see that Colbert trotted out the same schtick he does every night. If it weren't for where Colbert took his show, this would be just another Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. But I don't care what anyone says: to stand up in front of 2,400 people and to show your contempt for all of them as well as the most powerful man in the world, that just takes balls. This was high-risk performance art; the quality of the humor is almost beside the point. And, against what TNR's Noam Scheiber had to say about lefties loving the politics first and the content second, that's not it either; the point is, he stayed in character in front of an anxious-to-hostile crowd. This is what Andy Kaufman did so well and it's just good comedy.

On the subject of the comedy, Michael Sherer offered a good take on the comedy:

"He reversed and flattened the meaning of the words he spoke. It's a tactic that cultural critic Greil Marcus once called the 'critical negation that would make it self-evident to everyone that the world is not as it seems.' Colbert's jokes attacked not just Bush's policies, but the whole drama and language of American politics, the phony demonstration of strength, unity and vision."

Another fond appreciation of the comedy appears here, this one focusing on the "nervous concern" in the room. The best comedy is the kind that makes you squirm.

I also bumped into something interesting in a 60 Minutes interview with the very, very regular Colbert (see page 4). It makes me like him more:

"I had immediately had sort of a, I won't say a cynical detachment from the world. But I would certainly say I was detached from what was normal behavior of children around me. It didn't make much sense. None of it seemed very important. And I think that, you know, feeds into a sense that acceptance, or blind acceptance of authority, is not easy for me."

Not to flog a dead horse, but what's in bold has nearly everything to do with my loathing for politics. I flog it some more over here.

Now....back to the Derby....

1 comment:

deb said...

In case you missed it, here's Colbert's bit (at, I had to watch an advertisement in order to see the clip without subscribing--interesting business tactic) at the White House Correspondents dinner.