Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Stephen Colbert's brilliant monologue and dreadful press secretary audition

It's really quite fitting and funny that the objects of Stephen Colbert's brilliant monologue at the White House Correspondents' Dinner simply will not concede that he was funny. The media, neo-cons, and all around establishment have been telling us that "black is white" "up is down" and "wrong is right" from a position of power for the past six years. Of course they're now saying that Stephen Colbert wasn't funny. The reason speaks more about Colbert's detractors, and pinata-shattered targets, than Colbert as a comic and satirist.

Colbert eviscerated Washington's sacred cows at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. One after another, he lobbed verbal hand grenades at George W. Bush, as the Oval Office squatter looked on with the grim face of a barroom tough guy past his prime. A bully who's all bull now. Colbert interspersed his onslaught on BushCo by lashing its enablers -- the lethargic, flaccid, gutless lapdog press. One of the most stinging moments came when Colbert said:
But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!
Of course these self-important, self-congratulatory-masturbatory sycophants gaped at Colbert in offended-distended silence. And there were laughs. The exact kind of laughs any real comedian wants to hear -- the reluctant bursts of repressed laughter one might hear in church or funerals or anywhere laughter is not permitted. Laughter that breaks through. Those are the laughs I relish.

And we've got people like Richard Cohen at once trumpeting their "hey, I'm a funny guy!" credentials, while in the next breath dismissing Colbert's monologue as missing the mark. No, Richard Cohen, et al, are simply, inadvertantly revealing their allegiance to the sacred cows. Of course they didn't laugh. Of course they won't admit to Colbert being sniper-precise in his attack. Richard Cohen was probably expecting Jay "Dorrito-shucking-asshole" Leno to lead the cheers for BushCo. Sorry Richard.

One thing I can't figure is when Colbert played his "news conference audition tape." It was an audio tape [CORRECTION: The audition tape was, in fact, video, but I thought it was audio because C-SPAN did not direct their camera at the screen, but focused on George W. Bush], not video, and it was interminable. Sure, it was great hearing psuedo reporters asking "Why did we go into Iraq?" and Helen Thomas' nail-'em-to-the-floor question, "Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds to Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war?" But overall the audition tape was too damned long, too many sound gags that didn't translate. The only thing I can figure is that after his brilliant monologue why he would make such a misstep. I think it was calculated. The entire time the tape played the C-SPAN camera was pointed at George W. Bush. Bush looked as though he was approached by a poor person, so sour and bewildered and blinking was his expression. I think Colbert was simply twisting the knife he had so deftly placed in the center of Bush's nervous system. He wanted to see if Bush would get up and walk out. Bush didn't, so he had to listen to all the question he never wanted to hear the first time around.

Colbert was damned funny. His performance was one of the bravest, most biting satirical attacks I've ever seen or heard. He made all the right heads roll.

3 comments:

Repack Rider said...

One thing I can't figure is when Colbert played his "news conference audition tape." It was an audio tape, not video,

It was a video, featuring Helen Thomas stalking a terrified press secretary with her one question.

Whetam Knauckweirst said...

Thanks for the correction!

Fucking C-SPAN!

Kathleen Callon said...

It was lovely.