Here is something new to add to my list of Comedy Grievances. I am still hearing rumblings about Stephen Colbert’s keynote speech at the White House Correspondents Association dinner. People are questioning whether Stephen Colbert is funny. Once again, I must point out that comedy is subjective. Of course Stephen Colbert is funny. If he wasn’t funny he would never have been given the opportunities that he has been given, including being invited to speak at the Correspondents dinner. During this annual event people get roasted. No one in the public eye can and should ever be above roasting, especially people in politics and the media.
Entry Word: satire
Function: noun: a creative work that uses sharp humor to point up the foolishness of a person, institution, or human nature in general.
Related Words: burlesque, caricature, parody, spoof, takeoff; comedy, farce, sketch, slapstick, squib; derision, ridicule; mockery, travesty.
Knowing this, if you still have a problem with being satirized you can:
- Take the advice of President Harry Truman: “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
- Hire a different comedian who will not make fun of the president. (I’m sure Dennis Miller is available.)
I’m sure Stephen Colbert was told one thing: “Be funny.” It is never a good idea to show a comedian the line that must not be crossed. Still, I hear people saying that Stephen Colbert was not funny at the dinner because not many people present laughed. I’d say that this is a great example of what Mr. Colbert calls “Truthiness” (Truthiness is the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination).
Here is my take on that audience laughter assessment:
- One third of the audience thought he was funny and laughed.
- Another third of the audience thought he was not funny and did not laugh.
- And another third of the audience thought he was funny but did not laugh out of fear of being seen laughing (the same way some people, after hearing an ethnic joke have to visually scan the room to make that no one from that ethnic persuasion is present to see them laugh).
This means that an overwhelming two thirds of the audience thought that Stephen Colbert’s speech was funny. To quote Stephen Colbert’s keynote speech at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, “So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write, ‘Oh, they’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.’ First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!”