We SO hate the Beltway
This is what America thinks of the Beltway
So Not Funny
By Richard Cohen
Thursday, May 4, 2006; Page A25
First, let me state my credentials: I am a funny guy. This is well known in certain circles, which is why, even back in elementary school, I was sometimes asked by the teacher to "say something funny" -- as if the deed could be done on demand. This, anyway, is my standing for stating that Stephen Colbert was not funny at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. All the rest is commentary.
The commentary, though, is also what I do, and it will make the point that Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude. Rude is not the same as brash. It is not the same as brassy. It is not the same as gutsy or thinking outside the box. Rudeness means taking advantage of the other person's sense of decorum or tradition or civility that keeps that other person from striking back or, worse, rising in a huff and leaving. The other night, that person was George W. Bush.
Colbert made jokes about Bush's approval rating, which hovers in the middle 30s. He made jokes about Bush's intelligence, mockingly comparing it to his own. "We're not some brainiacs on nerd patrol," he said. Boy, that's funny.
But in this country, anyone can insult the president of the United States. Colbert just did it, and he will not suffer any consequence at all. He knew that going in. He also knew that Bush would have to sit there and pretend to laugh at Colbert's lame and insulting jokes. Bush himself plays off his reputation as a dunce and his penchant for mangling English. Self-mockery can be funny. Mockery that is insulting is not. The sort of stuff that would get you punched in a bar can be said on a dais with impunity. This is why Colbert was more than rude. He was a bully.
Hearing you lecture people on comedy is like you lecturing people on marital fidelity. No one really wants to hear this.
But you didn't get it.
Mr. Colbert wasn't just being funny, he fucking hates you people. He holds you in deep contempt. He's just more artful at saying it than his boss, Jon Stewart. Stewart came out swinging on Crossfire and his contempt for Bob Novak wasn't subtle or hidden. He had the man in a dress.
Colbert walked into a room of people he sees as despicable cowards and killers, and told them that. Of course you didn't like the jokes, but be glad he was making someone laugh. If he had told the truth, Bush would have only been the first to flee the room.
People inside the Beltway have an amazingly inflated opinion of themselves and what they do. Most Americans despise them. They think they are betraying the republic and what it stands for. People consider press as coconspirators in Bush's illegal and immoral war, people out for personal gain.
Colbert was being nice.If you doubt that, just get a tape of the Crossfire Stewart was on. At least Colbert had the courtesy to disguise his contempt in the form of jokes.
posted by Steve @ 12:03:00 AM