Trying Not to Be Evil Week, Day 1: The Colbert Report
A recent conversation between me and one of my best friends:
Me: Oh, funny, you mention that…I wrote about that on the blog last week.
Friend: (obviously lying): Yeah…yeah…hmm…I remember reading that.
Me: Look, it’s cool. You don’t have to read my blog. Most of our friends don’t read the blog.
Friend: No, it’s not that I don’t wanna’ read blogs.
Me: Okay….what’s wrong with my blog? Do you disagree or something?
Friend: No, it’s just that I really like you a lot. Well…and yeah…when I read it, it makes me not like you.
Me: How so?
Friend: You hate everything.
It goes without saying that most of my friends are much nicer than me. They don’t write blogs filled with vitriol and hate nor do they hand out awards to people who screwed up the most that week (f.y.i. Last week’s Award For Excellence in the Field of Excellence Went to the Hop Li Chinese Restaurant on
Accordingly, most of my friends don’t actually read my blog. One could chalk this up to typical
And on Day 1, I can’t think of a better way to kick off this not-so-historic week by celebrating the Colbert Report, perhaps the finest show on television.
Now I don’t exactly watch a lot of television. In fact, in the last three years I have maybe only consistently watched 10-15 shows. In fact, I can proudly state that I don’t even own a working television (of course, this is technicality, as I seemingly purchased the only new television in the history of television to break for no apparent reason after just three months. Naturally, I opted not to get a warranty.)
The reason why I don’t watch much television is simple: most of it is pretty bad. And there’s nothing that gets me angrier than wasting my time, watching something I inevitably know that I could’ve done better (except for my brief infatuation with the ill-fated Heather Graham vehicle, “Emily’s Reasons Why Not”… Wait..infatuation wasn’t the word I was looking for).
But The Colbert Report is truly something of genius. First and foremost, Stephen Colbert, the actor/comedian, has one of the best deliveries and some of the best mannerisms that I’ve ever seen in a comedian. When some comics deliver dead-pan lines, you get the sense that they know how funny their material is, which sort of makes it a little less funny, because it’s corny when comedians laugh at their own jokes. Not Colbert. The man never breaks character. No matter how ridiculous what he’s saying is, he sells you that he actually believes it.
I’ll never forget a sketch he did on the Daily Show last year in which he interviewed a man who proclaimed himself to have had the most impoverished upbringing ever.
Colbert: I bet I was poorer.
Man: I don’t know about that. We were pretty poor.
Colbert: Did you have floors? I was so poor, we didn’t have floors.
Man: We had floors, but underneath them we had chicken cages where we raised chickens. It was loud. All day long, you couldn’t hear anything but chickens clucking under the floor.
Colbert: Uhh…lucky. I would’ve killed to have chickens under my floor.
Second, Stephen Colbert’s character is brilliantly conceived. Playing a fake ideological blowhard allows Colbert, the actor, a perfect vehicle to use for satire. Rather than tell you why something is funny, the character makes all sorts of absurd comments that are obviously hilarious and political, yet they never come across as political screeds.
Take for instance a conversation he had earlier this year (watch it here) with
His first question:
“Okay, look, now I want you to explain evolution to me, from the primordial soup to how I got here today in my limo…in say…30 seconds.”
Then Miller starts talking about flue shots. Colbert immediately cuts him off.
Then Miller starts explaining how flue shots prove evolution because they evolve every year to a different strain.
Colbert: Couldn’t that just be intelligent design too. That God is changing it every year to keep us on our toes, and not make us think that we’re so high and mighty.”
Miller: Well, that’s exactly one of the problems with intelligent…design…
Colbert: “Uh…problems…or do you mean strengths!...I don’t understand why all the evolution people don’t just understand how intelligent design just seems so much easier. And plus, intelligent design is the perfect argument because of the fact that God made me.”
Colbert manages to never once explicitly condemn intelligent design and yet clearly picks out its flaws without ranting and raving about how stupid people can be (a la the no-longer funny Bill Maher). Point Colbert.
Which leads to me the third and final reason why The Colbert Report is the best show on television.
Political satire is one of the most difficult forms of humor to be successful at. A lot of people consider themselves political satirists: Al Franken, Ann Coulter, Dennis Miller, Maher. These four and their ilk have a lot of differing political viewpoints, but one thing in common. They aren’t funny. And once upon a time, SNL used to be effective at doing political satire, but last time I checked the rulebook, any show that has employed Horatio Sanz for sixth straight seasons has a 0 percent chance of not sucking.
Of course, The Daily Show is still outstanding, but though I have the utmost respect for Jon Stewart and their team of writers, the show seems stale of late. Perhaps the day-in, day-out grind year after-year has just made it no longer as fresh as it once seemed. However, I think one of the major reasons why I’m not as big of a fan of it as I used to be concerns its devolution from a show that once skewered both sides equally, into almost exclusively making fun of the Republicans. And while, I’m no fan of George Bush and Co., I think the Democrats are almost as equally deserving of being the targets of satire. I’ll start for you. Two words: Joseph Lieberman. Go….Plus, there’s always the fact that Colbert himself left the show, after being Jon Stewart’s most consistently effective correspondent.
Without overtly picking a side, The Colbert Report manages to lampoon our society brilliantly. I urge everyone to check it out, if they haven’t already. It’s absolutely brilliant. And if you haven’t seen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, you should definitely search for that on You Tube. Stephen Colbert is genius. So is his show.
So that’s one down and Four to Go. Being “not-evil” is difficult. I definitely can’t watch the MTV Movie Awards. That could ruin everything.