Tuesday, October 18

I didn't laugh much either

I looked forward to the debut of "The Colbert Report" as much as the next schlep. But I hate to admit that I got distracted halfway through and stopped paying attention. It just didn't hook me. And I love Stephen Colbert and every wild-eyed gesture he could possibly make.

Don't get me wrong -- Stephen Colbert could make armpit farts and it would be far superior to anything Adam Carolla could muster. But I was expecting something a little different, I guess. Something more outrageously funny. This piece makes some good points that help explain why I was a tad disappointed. The writer's point mostly centers on Colbert's comedic vehicle: straight-up parody instead of mockery, as is the case on "The Daily Show."

What's more, parody is hardly the secret to "The Daily Show" franchise's success. Stewart is fond of calling himself a fake journalist, but that's always been a misleading description. He never, as Colbert and the other correspondents do, pretends to be an inept newsman. He plays instead a wry and perspicacious consumer of the news, who happens, as it were, to sit in the anchor's seat and share his befuddlement with his viewers. At the crux of Stewart's humor is exposing absurdities, not imitating them. He's in on the joke with his audience, and he provides "The Daily Show" a center of gravity in an expensive suit.

This is missing entirely from "The Colbert Report." During his interview with Phillips, Colbert complimented his guest's neck, boasted about his own Emmy and Peabody awards, and debated the merits of different tie knots. Basically he teased him. This kind of light banter is key to Stewart's interviewing technique, but it's usually inlaid with more sincere questions. The balance of funny and anodyne keeps the report buoyant. But in his parodic mode, Colbert couldn't retreat into normal conversation. And his frantic humor seemed to discomfit Phillips, the audience, and the cameraman (the interview was a series of awkward angles and cuts).

Also, I have ADD and just wasn't feeling like watching something I wasn't laughing at.


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