From Tuesday’s The Daily Show:
Jon Stewart knows Dick Cheney well. After all, The Daily Show host rose to prominence during the early aughts, when the Bush administration, led by Vice President Cheney, deployed troops to Iraq, on the grounds that its president, Saddam Hussein, was harboring weapons of mass destruction. (As we all know now, that turned out not to be the case.) So when Cheney made the TV rounds yesterday, in anticipation of the State of the Union, to criticize President Obama’s foreign policy strategy, you could guess how Stewart felt. “This guy was wrong every time,” Stewart says, in a moment of unusual rage. “Why would you even listen to that guy?”
But wait! There’s more!
In response to Wow. That Sketch Was Stunningly Bad:
I do believe you’re right that the reason the sketch was met with funereal silence was that it was premised on a lie, and an obvious lie, so the audience just wasn’t willing to go along with it. As they always say, any satire must be grounded in some truth. I can’t just start calling a thin person Fatty-Fat-Fat-Butt and expect people to join in. (Unless I’m doing a sort of meta- thing or something.)
So sure, this was a sketch doomed by politics. Similarly they doomed their election coverage due to politics; they couldn’t even find it within themselves to be as honest about Barack Obama’s debate performance as Rachel Maddow. I remember reading SNL’s defense at the time; media asked them why that sketch was so bad. “There just was anything funny there,” they said.
Actually there was quite a bit that was funny; when SNL says they couldn’t find anything funny, they mean they were heartbroken by it and so were in no laughing mood.
And sure, because of this, SNL was barely spoken about during an election year. Election years for SNL are like tax season for H&R Block — it’s where they make their rent. Even in a bad season, SNL can usually get some good press by being topical entertainment during election season.
Not this year, though.
Dick Cheney has been out of office for four years now, and it’s unlikely that he will hold any official position ever again. But Jon Stewart decided to focus a major part of his show on beating Dick. Jon always does his intro, goes to commercial and then after the break is usually his best material of the night.
But on Tuesday night his best material was making fun of a former vice president. They couldn’t find anything more topical and newsworthy to focus on? When you think about it, they were bashing Cheney for bashing Obama. Cheney really didn’t say anything outrageous or offensive.
The SNL sketch was one where a Republican senator offered to fellate a donkey for Israel. Hilarious stuff.
A few years ago TDS and SNL were edgy, hip and cool. Now they are more like the cool kids making fun of the nerds. Stephen Colbert was in there too. So what happened?
We had a power change in this country. Political humor is at it’s best when it is aimed at the people in power. Johnny Carson skewered the current president every week, with no regard for which party he belonged to.
But nowadays you rarely see comedians mocking Obama.
“There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity — like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule — that’s what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel — it’s vulgar.”
― Molly Ivins