Home > Uncategorized > BLOG 8: The Kings of Comedy and Their Kingdoms of Politics

BLOG 8: The Kings of Comedy and Their Kingdoms of Politics

Have I made my love for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report obvious yet? I have a tendency to be extremely subtle, I know, so let me re-emphasize: I love the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. As far as Comedy Central goes, neither make me want to kill myself, and, as far as political news shows go, neither make me want to kill myself. Win/win either way, I’d say.

The beauty of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report reaches far beyond Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The Kings of Comedy and Professional TV personalities aside, both shows utilize the one tool that few can use properly to make a point–comedy. Neither TDS nor TCR claim to be news media or even function in the same role as the news itself. Stewart’s even purported this in his famous Crossfire interview when Tucker Carlson began attacking him for not asking enough hard-hitting questions on his show, saying

You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.

But therein lies the power of TDS and TCR. Without the same pressures or structures that guide CNN or MSNBC or Fox News, Stewart and Colbert are able to deliver real, political news in a way that’s relevant to the audience. The addition of humor and clips pieced together to show hypocrisy and inconsistencies within other news media networks hardly takes away from the political news content–if anything, it adds to it by adding relevance and perspective.

That isn’t to say that TDS and TCR don’t have their own leanings. Stewart and Colbert make fun of left and right politicians and journalists alike, but their leanings are obviously clear. They are equal opportunity offenders, but even a third grader can see that Stewart leans left and while Colbert certainly comes off as more centrist, he probably leans left as well.

Maybe that turns some viewers away from both shows. I, personally, think it makes it that much more interesting to watch and that much more genuine. If Stewart, who is clearly a liberal, hits hard at the Democrats and Obama–which he does, often–then it makes him seem more balanced, puts the hypocrisies in our system into perspective.

Either way, whether or not you believe TDS and TCR are left-leaning satires or that they convey real, political news, there can be no doubt that they inspire political participation, even in the loosest of senses. TDS and TCR are perfect for the news culture we live in today–they combine humor and news to draw in crowds, make politics relevant to the younger generation, encourage the youth to actually pay attention to the party system and politics and elections. If you’re in doubt about whether or not this is actual political participation, recall The Rally To Restore Sanity. Spearheaded by TDS and TCR, would you really doubt that the hundreds of thousands of participants who showed up that day in October felt like engaged, political participants?

If you do, I question you. As for me, I know that just watching TDS and TCR every night keeps me better informed and better connected with the world of politics than CNN and Wolf Blitzer’s Twitter addiction ever has. xoxo!

  1. April 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    You say that watching these programs keeps you informed and connected, but do you think these programs also motivate you to participate in politics? Do you find this humor engaging?

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