Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Links of note

I've been busy lately doing preliminary research for a new writing project. That's always the best part, when I can indulge myself learning a ton of stuff about the history of railroads, diagnostic indicators of cerebral hemorrhage, trees native to Pennsylvania, and the Ramayana...and saying to myself "I'm not goofing off, it's research." Then comes the other good part, which is staring off into space and letting it all swirl around in my head...and saying to myself "I'm not goofing off, I'm developing a story." And then comes the part about typing it all out, cursing myself for having no talent, waking up at 4 AM and deciding to quit writing...the usual. But at times like these, the blogging gets shortchanged. It's unavoidable. It doesn't mean I don't love you.

Now, if you're anything like me...first of all, please seek help immediately. Even though I make it sound fun and glamorous and exciting, it will only end in tears. But I digress. If you're anything like me, you've spent the last few days reading endless commentary and analysis of Steven Colbert's appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday. It's become an obsession with me. I was jazzed to see the real thing live on television, but the aftershocks have become overwhelming. All the commentary after the fact can be summed up in this simple formula: If he was talking about you, you didn't think it was funny.

Fortunately, one person has provided a comprehensive, sensible, and well-informed analysis of the event and subsequent reactions to same on his blog. And no, I don't mean Johnny Triangles. I refer to stand-up comedian, physicist, screenwriter, and comic book author John Rogers, who writes about Colbert's performance here and here. Anything I could say on the topic has already been said in those two posts and in the comments section for each.

Besides, anyone who knows why the words "Vaughn Meader" were once the funniest joke ever told has my respect.


  1. Indeed, that was awesome. I already said this in a Metafilter response, but:

    To me, it wasn't about making the audience laugh. It was him taking a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prove to God that yes, he does have a soul.

    At least someone in the room had one.

  2. Still can't manage to download the thing, for some reason. Aaarrrggghh!

    Read the transcript though. Ha!

    RAB, you just sent me off on an all-night chase of Colbert Comments! Damn you!

  3. Gah...I spelled his first name "Steven" and nobody called me out on the error.

    John, I'm not sure how seriously you mean that, but it's possible this may have a grain of truth. Colbert is a devout Catholic -- something else 60 Minutes didn't cover in their profile of the man -- and while a devout Catholic wouldn't need to prove to God that he had a soul, he would feel that God was watching all the time and took note of his actions on Earth. This is considerably different from the Protestant Evangelical tradition Bush has embraced, in which being "saved" counts above worldly deeds.

    I read today that Comedy Central has gotten more e-mails in support of Colbert than they've gotten on any occasion since Jon Stewart went on Crossfire and skewered Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson. Both are occasions when "funny guys" caused a furor simply by saying to someone's face the exact same things they said about that person when he wasn't around. In both cases, Stewart and Colbert violated the pervasive modern myth that "it's all in fun, we may rag on you guys for entertainment value but when we get together we're all pals and buddies and fellow insiders."

    The White House Correspondents Dinner is based around this premise. "We reporters and editors and media insiders all want to be pals with you in the administration, and this reporting stuff is just a form of entertainment, but having fun with you here is our way of showing that we don't take all that stuff we say TOO seriously." And Colbert ripped off that facade the same way that Stewart did on CNN. This was a serious breach against manners and good taste; no wonder the media can't stop harrumphing and the general public is cheering.


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