Don’t Make Me Laugh!
Richard Cohen writes today that Stephen Colbert’s performance at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner “wasn’t funny.” Cohen’s proof? It includes a claim that he, himself, is funny–and this:
He [Colbert] referred to the recent staff changes at the White House, chiding the media for supposedly repeating the cliche “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” when he would have put it differently: “This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.” A mixed metaphor, and lame as can be.
Hmmm… so the metaphor police decide what is funny? And lame? Personally, I can’t see the limp.
As if that weren’t enough, Cohen also charges Colbert with being rude. For me, that was too much. So I sent an email to Cohen:
It’s telling that you flat out state that Stephen Colbert wasn’t funny last Saturday night at the White House Correspondents Dinner. As usual for someone in the news media, you have set yourself up as the final arbiter–this time, of humor. You should have been a little more circumspect: Colbert wasn’t funny–to you. He certainly was funny to millions of others. But you, and so many of the news media people who don’t get his jokes, feel that you should be the ones to tell us what is or isn’t–whether it’s funny, whether it’s news… whatever. Sorry, but that doesn’t play any more. We’ll decide for ourselves what is funny and what is not. What is news and what is not.
As to his being rude, well, he only seems rude to you because you feel insulted. You and yours (and that includes the president). The insiders who cozy up to each other and don’t want the rest of the world butting in. By the same token, you probably would have felt it rude for the child to say that the emperor has no clothes (and it was; so what?)–but the truth remains in both cases, and it does need saying.
It’s ruder that you in the press tried to bury Colbert’s performance because it embarrassed you.
Let me end by addressing to Cohen this quote from Bob Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street”:
You got a lotta nerve
To say you gota helping hand to lend:
You just want to be on
The side that’s winning.
You say I let you down,
You know it’s not like that:
If you’re so hurt,
Why then don’t you show it?
You say you lost your faith,
But that’s not where it’s at:
You had no faith to lose
And you know it.
Look to yourself, funny man.