Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Steven Colbert, TV Comic, But Not Exactly A Comedic Genius

I've watched local and national news coverage of President Hinckley's passing with considerable interest. I think it's accurate to say that coverage has been respectful, for the most part, and in some instances, particularly on the local level, even reverent.

I caught the Colbert Report late last night just as he began his "tribute" to the late president of the Mormon Church. He said it was obvious Gordon Hinckley was in perfect health at the time of his passing, so he wondered why no one seemed interested in delving into the mystery of his sudden death, because it seemed apparent to him that Hinckley had been murdered.

And who would benefit from Hinckley's death? Clearly it was Thomas S. Monson, who is likely to be named the new Mormon Church president. Why was that significant? Because Mitt Romney, a Mormon, could possibly be our next U.S. President, and then Romney would take his marching orders from Monson, just as John Kennedy had taken his from the Pope. Clearly Monson was looking forward to the time that Romney would be his personal puppet.

Now, Steven Colbert is a comedian whose schtick is to mock politicians and world leaders and make light of subjects and situations that most people take seriously. I get that. And apparently Colbert's studio audience thought this routine was hilarious. But I found myself squirming uncomfortably. I wasn't laughing. It didn't seem very funny to me.

Undeterred by my discomfort, Colbert plunged ahead. He claimed that if Barack Obama were to win the election and move into the White House, he would be taking orders from his spirtual leader, Oprah. Or more accurately, he said, "the Pope-rah", and here he showed an image of Oprah wearing a papal mitre on her head.

For the first time in this comedic routine, I laughed out loud. Okay, I said, that was funny. But for me, it seemed like it took a long time to get there.

I'm not sure how funny our Catholic friends may have found this part of the routine. I'm a little reluctant to ask anyone. But it seems strange that in these times of sensitivity and political correctness, it's quite okay to mock people of faith such as Catholics and Mormons, while certain other ethnic and religious groups are stictly off limits.

What's up with that?

1 comment:

rebnej said...

I agree that the Hinckley jokes were a bit insensitive, given the recency of his passing, although I don't think the jokes really impuned his character in any way (ultimately, the joke was mostly focused on the silliness of arguments that a particular religion is seeking to control the office of the president, like the argument that the Pope would control the White House through JFK, and the murder stuff was simply silly).

That said, while Colbert does do a number of jokes relating to religion, he has stated that it is because religion interests him. He himself is actually a committed Catholic who teaches Sunday school and has spoken quite openly in several interviews about his own faith.

That is also why he gets upset when people use religion for less than noble purposes, and many of his jokes focus on these hypocracies.