I’m not a White House correspondent, but I sometimes play one, watching television. And so I checked out Stephen Colbert’s performance at the correspondents’ dinner via the thousands of web-streaming sites hosting it these last few days, and guess what? I thought it was pretty funny. Not stop-stop-my-sides-are-hurting funny, but you know — chuckle-worthy. Now I’m checking out Act II — the reaction. Which is pretty typical. It wasn’t complete, however, until someone wrote the inevitable “I didn’t laugh because I was offended, I didn’t laugh because it wasn’t funny” piece:

Safely delivered all in the stentorian, arrogant voice of Mr. Colbert’s late-night Bill O’Reilly knockoff persona, the material came off as shrill and airless, with little time or space left for jokes to sink in and seduce the listener before the next round of hectoring began.

Who knew White House correspondents were such practiced critics of comedy? “Shrill and airless.” I’ll have to keep that one in my pocket.

Good column in the Freep yesterday, about the contemporary phenomenon of the urban funeral:

Two weeks ago, my son and I were caught in a mile-long traffic jam in Detroit. Young people were hanging out of Cadillac Escalade windows cheering wildly, speakers blaring. Was it a parade? A spring celebration in Palmer Park? No, it wasn’t a party or a picnic. It was the funeral procession of rapper Proof, born Deshaun Holton. …”Young people just don’t have the respect for death that their elders had,” (a funeral director) said. “I’ve even heard of there being shootings at funerals — they shoot up the casket, too.”

One more reason the police beat is the best one at the paper.

Oops, almost forgot to add this: Go ahead, lick that doorknob, or everything you wanted to know about germs. Thanks, Reuters!

Posted at 10:18 am in Popculch |

9 responses to “So…shrill.”

  1. Danny said on May 3, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Actually, I applaud Colbert. The comments I read could be taken as humorous, but I think there were some things said that Bush needs to hear. Not to be too serious, but I think this has been a tragically bad year for his poor decisions.

    1) With Katrina, he should have been pounding on his desk, screaming until something was done or heads rolled. Unbelievable. I was so disappointed.

    2) Harriet Myers nomination? Yet he held to his position until he just looked like a total fool.

    3) Dubia Ports Deal. Same as number two.

    4) Now illegal immigration. As Lou Dobbs points out, it is Orwellian the way that elected officials and media outlets are casting this debate. Most won’t even use the word “illegal.”

    The hits just keep coming and Bush and the rest of the do-nothing, know-nothings have lost my support.

    So I’m very, very happy if a comedian with some guts can make these jerks feel uncomfortable for a few breif moments. Hopefully they were teachable moments, but I doubt that.

    1010 chars

  2. Danny said on May 3, 2006 at 10:50 am

    Geesh, I’m shrill. OK, I’ll stop now.

    37 chars

  3. ashley said on May 3, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    When I die, you better second line…

    37 chars

  4. James said on May 3, 2006 at 9:00 pm

    Do you know what made it not funny for many of the people in the room?

    He said things that the press should have been saying every day, and he also said they were a buncha of lap dogs. The truth hurts.

    I was so impressed, and think that Colbert should get a Pulitzer, for comedy. They do have those, don’t they?

    318 chars

  5. wade said on May 4, 2006 at 12:55 am

    I was impressed because Colbert had Helen Thomas in his video – and they still let her sit on the dias with W and Laura.

    120 chars

  6. Danny said on May 4, 2006 at 9:54 am

    When I die, you better second line…


    53 chars

  7. Randy said on May 4, 2006 at 11:34 am

    It’s sad in a way that people have called Colbert “gutsy” for doing his act right in front of the President, like he’s the king and he might have Colbert beheaded for his insolence.

    I know this retribution stuff gets bandied about with the Plame affair and everything, but really, what did Colbert have to fear? In his mind, nothing, I would think. And he knew that, because he never lost his composure during the whole thing, even when some jokes received little or no response.

    482 chars

  8. harry near indy said on May 5, 2006 at 5:36 am

    well, it looks like jay leno will have at least one gig for ’07 and also for ’08.

    btw, leno’s ok. i don’t hate his humor, but he is pretty vanilla.

    and nancy, your silence on richard cohen’s snit about colbert fills the room. you’ve run some of cohen’s columns when he made some sense, but not to call him out for that one seems like you’re covering for him when you shouldn’t.

    383 chars

  9. ashley said on May 7, 2006 at 12:04 pm


    Second lining is what we in New Orleans do at what yankees call a “jazz funeral”. We parade, we celebrate the life of the person. Brass bands, hearse, people with parasols.

    Evidently, Detroit is trying to do something similar now, and evidently, just like when Seattle or St. Louis or anybody else tries to do Mardi Gras, they screw it up and people get shot.

    There’s a song by Kermit Ruffins, entitled “When I die, you better second line”. I’ve told my wife that I’ve written in the will, if I don’t get a funeral with music, complete with second line, she gets no money, rather, it all goes into a trust for the kids.

    638 chars