Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stephen Colbert--The Sound of One Hand Slapping

Stephen Colbert
Originally uploaded by lovablepeople.

Mention a White House Correspondents Association dinner and even my eyes start to glaze over, but Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's Colbert Report made this year's event memorable. Colbert's typical act, for those who do not know him, consists of him reporting news as an angry Fox-style pundit who ostensibly supports the president and hates the mainstream media.

The uniqueness of Colbert's comedy is that he pokes fun at the administration's fiction presented as truth by presenting truth in the guise of fiction. Like all of the work coming from The Daily Show's stable of comedians, his is a rarely broken facade of feigned sincerity--an increasingly noticeable quality and likely survival tactic of actual news correspondents. The subtelty may have been lost on the crowd in front of him.

Crooks and Liars has the video. Click here to see it. It is hilarious and maybe a little too close to the truth for some of those in the room. I am not surprised that the current mainstream press didn't report on it the following day.

Some people have remarked that Colbert's act failed because there were few laughs heard. Actually there were many laughs, millions of them, but they weren't in that room. They were in the living rooms of America where many people were watching and wincing as Colbert passive-aggressively got things off his chest. He said things to the president and the media that many citizens might fantasize about saying, and he did it while the president sat five seats away. Outside of the late Coretta Scott King's funeral, I cannot remember when one person had such unfettered access to criticize the president on national television while the president was in the room!

Even I was twitching. Though he was sharp-witted and funny, Colbert's speech wasn't really for entertainment purposes. It was a pointed confrontation of the enormous failures of this administration and the media. What I couldn't believe was that Colbert had the nerve to look the president in the eye even as he raked him over the coals. I'm actually a little worried about Stephen's safety.

So don't plan on hearing much about Colbert's performance from the mainstream media. But make no mistake, bloggers like Amato at C and L were watching C-SPAN when it aired. As a result you can count on it entering the public consciousness through blog channels within a week if not sooner.


Blogger Mike Mather said...

Troy - Yes, I was hearing about this in the blogosphere almost immediately. I just watched it from your link, though. What a gift this guy has (I loved is "This Week in God" on the Daily Show -- where he mercilessly and brilliantly forced us to see ourselves in all our hideousness and craziness). I love the spirit in which he does things. It is the spirit of truth -- and I believe when he is making fun of things that you know he has a love for those very things. Or so it seems to me anyway. Thanks for your postings on this. And thanks to Stephen Colbert for saying what he had to say -- may his tribe increase and may a multitude of camels cover him (I mean that in the best way).

4:25 PM  
Blogger 2Pete said...

I am such a huge Colbert/Daily Show fan. Thanks for the link! I heard about Stephen's dinner comments, but didn't see them till now!

Wanted to thank you as well for your visit to my site and your comments about the ex-gay ministry. Father Jim came on and responded as well. Hope you'll have a chance to read it.

Immense blessings to you,
Peter Walker

10:50 AM  

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