Strange bedfellows: how late-night comedy turns democracy by Russell L. Peterson

By Russell L. Peterson

It's no twist of fate that presidential applicants were making it some degree so as to add the late-night comedy circuit to the crusade path in recent times. In 2004, while John Kerry made up our minds it used to be time to do his first nationwide tv interview, he didn't decide on CBS's 60 mins, ABC's Nightline, or NBC Nightly information. Kerry picked Comedy Central's The day-by-day convey. while George W. Bush used to be lagging within the polls, his visual appeal at the David Letterman exhibit gave him a measurable increase. applicants for the 2008 presidential election begun their late-night bookings virtually once they introduced their campaigns. How can this be? the reason being that polls were always discovering major variety of Americans-and a good greater share of these below the age of thirty-get no less than a few of their "news" approximately politics and nationwide affairs from comedy exhibits. whereas this pattern towards what a few have known as "infotainment" turns out to bring in the descent of our nationwide discourse-the triumph of leisure over substance-the truth, based on Russell L. Peterson, is extra complicated. He explains that this programming is greater than an insignificant alternative for normal information shops; it performs its personal position in shaping public notion of presidency and the political technique. From Johnny Carson to Jon Stewart, from Chevy Chase's spoofing of President Ford on Saturday evening dwell to Stephen Colbert's roasting of President Bush on the White residence Correspondents Dinner, unusual Bedfellows explores what americans have stumbled on so humorous approximately our political associations and the folks who inhabit them, and asks what this says in regards to the wellbeing and fitness of our democracy. evaluating the mainstream community hosts-Jay, Dave, Conan, and Johnny earlier than them-who have continuously strived to be "equal chance offenders" to the more moderen, edgier crop of comedians on cable networks, Peterson indicates how every one model of satire performs off a distinct point of usa citizens' frustrations with politics.

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The problem with this definition is that there is no way to objectively measure sincerity—the Mean-It-oMeter has yet to be invented. And simply asking is no good: a professional comedian, whether he is a satirist or not, will deny having a “message” as a matter of course—it’s part of the code. 1). Note that these distinctions have nothing necessarily to do with quality: some genuine satire is preachy and dull, and some of the pseudo stuff is gut-bustingly funny. Determining whether a given piece of comedy falls into column A or column B may be a somewhat subjective process, but it is not arbitrary.

Fred Muggs (Lauer’s the tall one). 21 The infrastructure was in place for a massive new comedy-industrial complex. An irreverent new attitude was in the air. But it was not yet on the air. TV was still a nervous guest in America’s living rooms, and political humor was still confined mostly to the margins. What’s more, bringing the message to the medium would get harder before it got easier. Mort Sahl’s anti-establishment ‘tude may have been too hot for the tube, but things were about to get much, much hotter.

As the American Journalism Review explains, the late-night hosts are “gatekeepers without gates,” who lack the good judgment and credentials to decide what is newsworthy. 3 The construction of the Usurper Narrative—which, regardless of its shaky foundation, is the labor of many hands—is clearly a defensive project. From within the Fourth Estate’s embattled garrison, the growing ranks of late-night comics appear not so much to be gatekeepers as to be gate-crashers. The Pew survey makes the outlines of this supposed conflict explicit by listing comedy and news shows side by side, but the Usurper Narrative was quickly adopted by a press establishment anxious to defend its domain.

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