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Stephen Colbert roasts the President

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You'll find the whole routine here, in three parts.

Wow. This guy is superhuman. Alan, I'll bet when you met him, he was practicing this routine in his head.

Two words: Ca. Jones.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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Well, I started this thread intentionally... Thought the event was significant enough, and this wasn't part of the Colbert Report.

Feel free to call it the Correspondents' Dinner thread and move it to Politics if you wish.

Then it makes sense to include THIS too.

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Gutsy? Maybe. Funny? No. I chuckled a couple of times, but mostly sat stone-faced and waiting for something funny to come along - waiting in vain. If he's funny on Comedy Central, cool. But here? He was a dud.

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Man, those Fake News guys have been gutsy this year. First Jon Stewart, now Stephen Colbert-- venturing into a high-profile, gala event, full of people more powerful than they are, delivering routines that are often shocking in their honesty and candor, and making a bunch of folks upset in the process.

God bless you, Jon and Stephen. I don't always agree with your politics, but, without you, I'm not sure how I'd ever maintain sanity in today's political climate.

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Isn't this pretty routine for White House Press Correspondent's Dinners? That's kinda what they're for, letting the press have their day, and that's what Colbert was invited to do. Nothing particularly gutsy about it.

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Only in this country could you perform a routine like that in front of the major players of the government and not find yourself or your family in hot water - literally and figuratively - the next day.

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I'll have to disagree with nardis - I thought the Helen Thomas video segment, like almost EVERY video segment produced for these kinds of things, was as flat as Kansas. There was nothing surprising or interesting about it to me - every gag was telegraphed ahead of time, and everything was ripped off from somewhere else.

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I thought the idea of casting Helen Thomas in that end video segment was pure genius. The execution of it was, as Crims said, just not at the same level.

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Word.

The routine flopped as soon as that video started. But it shouldn't have.

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I agree, the video was boring. I also found that I didn't laugh very much through the first two segments, but for a different reason--shock. I couldn't believe someone was saying that kind of stuff, in that particular way, to the President's face. I just sat there with my face in my hands going "Oh my God. Oh my God. I can't believe he just said that." I felt extremely uncomfortable, in a good way, which I imagine is just how I was meant to feel.

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Oh, it definitely is an in-joke . . . and like many other shticks which rely on in-jokes (*coff*familyguy*coff*) it just isn't that funny. IMHO.

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BTW, he replayed that video last night on his show, with a few minor edits for time. It didn't get that many laughs.

I think one of the funniest parts was when he fell on the roller skate, picked it up, and said something about Condi Rice leaving those around.

Edited by Clint M

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I don't see it as strictly a press corps in-joke, especially since Colbert played it on his own show as well. I see it as a political junkie in-joke, or at least a joke for anyone who is familiar with "Crazy Aunt" ... sorry... "First Lady of the Press" Helen Thomas.

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My take was similar: not all that funny, but man, were there some zingers in there (Bush's ability to 'stand on' things, fer instance). I was in shock at the bluntness of his commentary about Bush, and I've only viewed the video once, but he seemed to blow Bush off at the end of his remarks, to boot.

I, too, thought the bit with Helen Brown was unfunny, but suspect this was a sop to the press after dissing them for letting the White House dictate their writings and for keeping their idealism closeted at home.

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To me, the funniest part of the video was when he was frantically searching for the right key to get into his car, then realized he had an electronic lock, then got into his car, started screaming, stopped screaming in order to carefully back out of his parking space, started screaming again, then rolled up the window while he was still screaming and drove away.

Dunno why, but I thought that was hilarious.

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Though I disagree with Colbert's politics, is his roast of the President any worse than Don Imus' comments in front of Clinton when he did this exact same gig?

Edited by Michael Todd

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Shocking, yes. Gutsy, yes. Funny ... uh, no. And I tend to think funnymen should be funny men. Though I did like the line about "the government that governs least".

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venturing into a high-profile, gala event, full of people more powerful than they are, delivering routines that are often shocking in their honesty and candor, and making a bunch of folks upset in the process.

Sort of a variation on the whole "speaking truth to power" line, which is dismissed by Richard Cohen today:

So Not Funny

The commentary, though, is also what I do, and it will make the point that Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude. Rude is not the same as brash. It is not the same as brassy. It is not the same as gutsy or thinking outside the box. Rudeness means taking advantage of the other person's sense of decorum or tradition or civility that keeps that other person from striking back or, worse, rising in a huff and leaving. The other night, that person was George W. Bush.

[snip]

Why are you wasting my time with Colbert, I hear you ask. Because he is representative of what too often passes for political courage, not to mention wit, in this country. His defenders -- and they are all over the blogosphere -- will tell you he spoke truth to power. [emphasis mine] This is a tired phrase, as we all know, but when it was fresh and meaningful it suggested repercussions, consequences -- maybe even death in some countries. When you spoke truth to power you took the distinct chance that power would smite you, toss you into a dungeon or -- if you're at work -- take away your office.

But in this country, anyone can insult the president of the United States. Colbert just did it, and he will not suffer any consequence at all. He knew that going in. He also knew that Bush would have to sit there and pretend to laugh at Colbert's lame and insulting jokes. Bush himself plays off his reputation as a dunce and his penchant for mangling English. Self-mockery can be funny. Mockery that is insulting is not. The sort of stuff that would get you punched in a bar can be said on a dais with impunity. This is why Colbert was more than rude. He was a bully.

--I knew--knew--John Stewart's Oscar defenders would be the same crowd praising Colbert. Put me in the "nay" camp for both. Neither was dreadful, but neither was all that funny. Let's ease off the hosannas, folks.

Edited by Christian

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You're kidding me on the byline - I cannot believe Richard Cohen wrote that! ;-)

Well, he has been accused of being too friendly toward the Bush administration. ;)

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Salon's take on "it wasn't funny."

I watched it again today and it was less funny than the first time I saw it. The video segment especially drags on forever. However, a lot of it seems unfunny because it's so uncomfortable, and because NOBODY ELSE IS LAUGHING. The humorless audience kills the comedy buzz that usually exists when an audience is united in openness to the possibility of being amused.

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I heard an essay on this done at "On the Media", a PRI program Saturday. I rarely agree with Cohen and usually enjoy Colbert in small doses (even used him as a sig last Fall). The bits I heard were clunker after clunker. In fact, the whole piece analysing the performance was hard to listen to. It was the classic lazy man's political humor. In other words, literally speaking the words of the one being made sport of hoping that inflection, tone, and facial expression will distinguish between a quote and parody. Come on Christian, even Stewart got off some decent jokes at his gig.

As Cohen says, Bush is a real easy target and Bush is one of the better sharpshooters at hitting that target. Colbert couldn't force the cork out of the popgun and didn't know it. That is just bad comedy writing. It is supposed to be a night of amateur comedy writing. A night when the President sometimes has the help of professional comedy writing. On how many of these points did Colbie fall flat? All of them. A man who disgraces himself comedically to such an extent deserves to have his show taken from him. That this will not happen makes him very fortunate indeed. Make no mistake, this was a dishonor to comedy. A disgrace to the high and lofty art of making us laugh. All in the service of a cheap and easy political point. Has Mort Sahl been fogotten so quickly?

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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I had a long response, but I'll just say instead that it's a lot easier to dismiss a piece as "unfunny" than it is to defend the guy you want you defend.

I thought Colbert's piece had a few slow bits, but was on the main hilarious. I also think Cohen is trying to do a triple-backflip with a midair double-axle in order to attack Colbert because of his political message: in other words, Cohen is using his column to flat-out lie about why he didn't like the piece.

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Just for the record, I have no interest in defending Bush. And Colbert was still unfunny. Sometimes it's easy to speak the truth, but we still speak it anyway.

Colbert's job, if you will, was to speak the truth FUNNILY. And he pretty much failed. Like I said earlier, he did get some good lines in there (e.g. "the government that governs least..."). But too, too few.

Speaking the truth may be easy. So is dying. But, like they say, "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard."

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Colbert's shtick was no different from what he did on his TV show. In fact some of his lines were lifted from the very first show he did, which sort of disappointed me ("truth has a liberal bias," etc) but if the entire bit had been run on his show, I'm pretty sure a lot of the same people who are calling it "unfunny" now would be laughing about it. If you don't think the Colbert Report is funny then I can't fault you for not thinking his performance at the dinner was funny, but I don't really understand what 90% of the critics of that performance were expecting him to do.

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