my pissant two cents

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The “Half Hour” that I will never get back

I just watched Fox News Channel’s attempt at political satire. “The Half Hour News Hour” wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. But then, I’ve worked in real television news.
The show opens with a half-clever premise, that Rush Limbaugh is President in January 2009. But it quickly reveals its humor level, as Limbaugh—apparently quite comfortable in his glass house—congratulates Howard Dean for “finally getting the medical attention he has desperately needed for so long.” Lacking the faintest vestige of irony, Limbaugh blames “two years of a Democrat [sic] Congress” for making America’s international reputation a shambles, and promising “commander-in-chief excellence.” That’s as close as it came to mentioning Bush in the entire program.
Then “VP” Ann Coulter trots out her catchphrase, warning viewers that if they don’t stay tuned, “We’ll invade your countries, kill your leaders and convert you to Christianity”
It doesn’t get any funnier than that. I don’t mean that in a good way.
“Anchors” Kurt Long and Jenn Robertson (a game show host and Canadian comedy writer, respectively, who wisely don’t use their real names on the show) kick off the program-proper with a headlines segment. From a none-too-subtle “Hillary is a lesbian” slag, to a double-jab at Dennis Kucinich and Air America, it was a collection of undeservedly self-congratulatory smirking.
They made a recurring joke of actor/environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr., amazingly putting together a poop joke, a joke about homelessness, and another about prison rape, nailing a rare trifecta of unfunny premises. Begley narrowly outpaced Sen. Barack Obama, about whom a fart joke and a body odor joke were made. But one suspects the Senator will be a frequent target, insofar as this show can be expected to stay on the air.
Another butt of repeated jokes is the ACLU, which has been “protecting criminals [like Rush Limbaugh (] from people like you since 1920.” Ha ha. Lawsuits to protect drug suspects from forced blood tests and to protect free speech, even for white supremacists (and I wonder how many Fox News viewers weren’t the slightest bit bothered by that), are how liberals are destroying our nation, get it?
A couple of skits, one on Che Guevara t-shirts and another on global warming, fell sadly flat, as actors Dom Irrera and Jonathan Mangum obviously read their cue cards and gave wooden deliveries of unfunny lines. Long and Robertson did no better, with their schticky reading owing more to Ted Baxter than Ted Koppel.
Veteran comedy writers Ned Rice and Sandy Frank are responsible for this dreck, which ought to bring their many writing awards into question. As pretty much everyone surmised, it was a collection of juvenile, mean-spirited jabs at liberals, full of the usual scorn and derision. They managed to make fun not only of Suzanne Somers, because her house burned down, but also children with cancer.
The depth of the derision wasn’t quite so surprising as the complete absence of wit.
But then, satire is by its nature a subversive art, skewering the powerful and poking meaningful fun at the self-important. It requires insight and impulse. It simply does not go with a conservative agenda, which seeks above all to stifle anything that challenges the orthodoxy.
Instead of insight, what we get from Rice and Frank is a collection of put-downs and insults that would be great in a junior high lunchroom. If that’s what Fox viewers need to feel protected from those mean guys on Comedy Central, they’re welcome to it.


  • Yea, there is no such thing as liberal orthodoxy...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:44 AM  

  • Of course there is, you moron. And "The Daily Show" and Colbert challenge it all the time. Think we'll see any tweaking of Republicans from Fox?

    By Blogger saldana, at 7:26 AM  

  • Great commentary. The show wasn't as funny as I would expected. If you are interested in politically incorrect comedy, I would check They are at least funny.

    By Anonymous Jonathan Moore, at 8:27 AM  

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