Friday, February 16, 2007

Comedy is hard

Air America, the liberal radio network, took a lot of flak when it first came out since it was entering a market dominated by frothing, half-crazed conservatives. Despite some bumps along the road, Air America is still here after nearly three years of existence.

Now the tables have turned. FOX News recently debuted a conservative answer to the Daily Show called The 1/2 Hour News Hour. Slate has the lowdown:
The ½ Hour News Hour is the brainchild of Joel Surnow, co-creator of 24. "Almost every comedy show or satire show I see uses the same talking points against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney," Surnow told Variety in November. "The other side hasn't been skewered in a fair and balanced way." Talking points? Fair and balanced? That's not the language of the writers' room. In any case, you couldn't skewer a cube of tofu with material this dull. It will play to the base, maybe, especially if the base hands the remote control to its 12-year-old son. As a humorless liberal, I can handle it. It's the conservatives—the ones with actual gifts for comedy—who ought to be sharpening their knives.
There are several additional points to make: One is that the use of Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh for sketch comedy is simply an action of convenience rather than shrewd casting. Anyone who has watched a lot of Saturday Night Live knows that, of the guest hosts who weren't actors or comedians, only a handful have managed to do sketch comedy that didn't make the viewer cringe.

Let me put it this way: It you were a conservative owner of a garage, would you hire the guy who's views are identical to yourself and your customer base, or would you hire the guy who, you know, actually knows how to fix cars?

And as it concerns The Daily Show, these people are missing the point. The Daily Show is equal opportunity in it's jokes (as all good comedy shows should be). You can be rest assured that Stewart and his writers will not turn a blind eye to the slew of Democratic candidates for President. They're ripe for plucking. The real reason that Bush and Cheney (and Republicans in general) have been focused on so much is (say it with me) they're the ones who have been in power for the past six years!

And for those who continue to think that Stewart takes too many jabs at Dubya, then I have a simple solution for you: Ask your dear President to stop furnishing him with so much material.

One final note: Even the show's title isn't original. MTV used to have a show called the Half Hour Comedy Hour in the early 90's. Guess what, FOX? The title wasn't terribly clever then, either.

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