Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Comedy Guilt

I have to fess up to this. Yesterday I wrote that Ann Coulter had botched her most recently famous joke, only to have my BEST FRIEND Skot point out that I had simply missed the reference. Damn you Skot! You have forced me to peer into the dark heart of my own aesthetic soul.

Ann Coulter isn't funny to me because I don't want her to be. If I agreed that liberals are godless terrorists who laugh when soldiers are killed, I'd probably be able to take her jests in the good-natured spirit that she intends. I'm calling her comedy-blind; truth is it's me, in this case.

This changes some perspectives. If comedy has a liberal bias, as it does appear to do, then when a comedy show is popular it must be appealing to the liberal part of people. The red states aren't red, and the blue states aren't blue - they're shades of purple. Our nation is actually an enormous bruise. Otherwise, the Daily Show would be off the air, and so would 24. We are all closer than we want to admit.

THE 1/2 HOUR NEWS HOUR, though, is still doomed. Ain't nothin' gonna save that show.


Skot said...

Aw, Dan, it's OK. put down the cat-o-nine tails, no need for self-flagellation. Unless of course that's your thing.

Missing a reference doesn't make you comedy blind, no more than having a headache means you've got Mad Cow Disease. A symptom is not an illness. In fact, it's refreshing to hear there are TV shows you DON'T watch. I'm thinking of that incident a few weeks back when the power went out and you were effectively a puppet with cut strings. The wife watches Gray's Anatomy: I can't stand it. Catherine Heigl is pretty hot, though.

And really, you've just proven you're a better person than Ann. You admit you flubbed it, and willingly question your perspective. You think she does that?

If you're trying to parse such concepts as absolute objectivity (Coulter is just plain not funny) versus relative subjectivity (Coulter may be funny to her rabid core audience), these are problems that have tested people for decades. It's about as fruitful as asking why Evil exists or why Robert Downey Jr. is currently considered an acting treasure. The question you should be asking is if your perceptions serve the overall viewpoint of your column, or you're trying for a wider consensus.

I'll venture taking a side on the subject of objectivity: Ann Coulter may be a lot of things, but funny isn't one of them. I'm not saying this because I think her political views are somewhere to the right of Stalin. Ronald Reagan was funny. Pat Buchanan is funny. Bill O'Reilly is a hoot. P.J. O'Rourke is probably the funniest writer on the planet. I despise all of their politics.

If it weren't for the fact that the controversy itself sustains Coulter's stature and fame, much like the Smog Monster got bigger from inhaling all that smokestack effluvia, I'd say keep after her.


Danielk said...

If X-FILES teaches us anything, it's that we must consider extreme possibilities.

By the way, I disagree with you about Downey. He did yeoman's work in CHAPLIN.

skot said...

OMG, the world's last X-FILES reference. I take back everything I said about your TV habits.

I didn't see CHAPLIN. But that was before the big slide, wasn't it? I ain't saying he's untalented, it's just I think he's a Piven, not an Irons. A Slater, not a Mirren. Hey, this is fun. --s