Monday, May 01, 2006

Colbert's Rapport

Far more amusing than Colbert's public callout at the White House Correpsondent's Dinner was the predictable ideological divide in bloggydom's reaction to it. Frankly, I didn't find Colbert's routine terribly funny at all. Ultimately, that really wasn't the point. Colbert wasn't there to comfort the comfortable. He was there to afflict them. As for the righties who say he violated the tradition of the WH press corps dinner, well, I just have to wonder, when did such people start suddenly caring about press corps traditions? It didn't seem to bother them when the press corps ceased to ask tough question, a tradition dutifully abandoned in the run up to the Iraq invasion.

What was amusing and worthy of a few chuckles was simply the fact of what the man was saying while standing right next to the president. After years of sheltering Bush from this very kind of public lashing, I still can't figure out how Colbert got on stage in the first place, let alone how Colbert managed to stay up there without a big Secret Service stage hook yanking him away. It makes one wonder whether those in charge of the event even know who Colbert is or what it is he does.

Nonetheless, it was memorable, but not for the laughs, which were predictably non-existent, but for the lack of them. There was a very good reason for that, of course. Everything Colbert said was an ironic yet scathing, direct rhetorical attack on neary everyone in the room. When someone is ostensibly lauding the dreadfully bad White House policies by offering up dreary reality to support the position, that can be funny. But when the policy makers and those who supposedly report on them are the ones targeted, the audience will not be laughing. Colbert took direct aim at those comfortably seated and harpooned them with their own behaviour. It should have been obvious that the only yuks would have to have come from a laugh track. Colbert even let loose a singular line which, at the same time, was both ironical and not. In fact, I suspect it was probably the only line the whole evening uttered by Colbert that wasn't meant to be ironical at all. As he introduced his video audition for White House press secretary, Colbert importunately said to Bush that he would make a great press secretary, because Colbert has "nothing but contempt for these people." I doubt that Colbert ever stated his view of the White House press corps more clearly than that.

If you're amused by Colbert's faux Republican bluster because you know he's making fun of speaking and thinking from "the gut," , if you understand that he is mocking the media for their acquiesence to White House power, then you might laugh at what Colbert did the other night. But you might not have. Frankly, I don't think it was well delivered and I wonder if that was because Colbert himself may have been thown off by his own presence on the podium, a "I can't believe I'm up here making fun of all these people ... and they invited me to do it" kind of moment. But if you were one of his targets, I'd be certain you wouldn't have laughed at any of it. And the lack of laughter in the audience that night was indicative of one and only one thing: Colbert was dead on. And the "target" audience knew it.

7 Comments:

Anonymous robb said...

I was wondering if the WH is so clueless that they think that The Colbert Report is "serious". If so, I doubt that they are clueless about it now.
I only hope that Mr. Colbert doesn't have a mysterious accident (or IRS audit).
Long Live Colbert! He has bigger balls than the real reporters in that room!

10:20 PM  
Blogger Melhi said...

My husband is surrounded by an unusually high concentration of Bushies, at work. A disturbing number of them have been singing the praises of the Colbert Report since it first aired -- yes, they bought his lampoon hook, line and sinker. These are grown, college educated men and women in professional positions. I'm guessing they "get" the joke, now.

Can you imagine what Colbert's reaction must have been when he received the invitation?

I haven't had time to peruse the right-wing spin on it, but I'm told it's that Bush got more laughs. (They think that's a good thing?!) Hey, maybe he'll quit his day job to pursue a career in comedy!

8:11 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Wow, Melhi, that is weird. How do one not get Colbert's schtick? They must think he is just being over the top of something.

Mostly, righties simply say he wasn't funny and "fell flat," using the audience response as their guide to the quality of the performance. In other words, clueless as ever and unable to render a judgment themselves. With all the panache of lumpen Bush supporters, Powerline's Assrocket actually said he had no idea who Colbert was. I guess he thinks that makes him look erudite and aloof from the common folk, a posture most elitist right wingers adopt when they are not pandering to common folk or pretending to be one of them.

12:47 AM  
Blogger The Misanthrope said...

Is there a way I can see a clip of his appearance?

10:02 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Oh yeah. Sorry, I should have probably put it up there.

At the Youtube, in three parts,

Colbert at the White House Press Corr dinner.

3:08 PM  
Blogger The Misanthrope said...

thank you for the link, but unfortunately it now says:video has been removed due to copyright infringement.

I read about it in the NYTimes this morning, so I think I have the idea.

4:27 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Wow, you are right. I wonder if CSPAN is on the hunt to shutdown distribution of this, consider how the MSM has tried to ignore the fact that Colbert's speech ever even happened.

Ok, try this one one good move.

4:48 PM  

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