The Week in Review
By Quentin Smeltzer, 9/27/2010
I’ve been travelling lately so it has been a little difficult to keep track of current events. But let’s see, Christine O’Donnell won the Republican primary for the Senate race for Delaware and Bill Maher outed her as a witch. Evidently the time is right for a candidate who has firsthand knowledge of satanic mass, believes that stem cell research is bad because scientists have already inserted human brains into mice and is sure there is no such thing as evolution because she has yet to observe any changes in the monkeys at her local zoo. And who could argue?
On the other hand, her anti-masturbation stance may prove more problematic. I mean, let’s face it, sex with ourselves is pretty much the only sex some us ever see. Especially those of us who are married. And it is not just the anti-masturbation position. It is the way she argued against it. Said Christine: “I mean, if you’re going to masturbate, what am I here for?” What indeed, Christine, what indeed?
Then there was Steven Colbert, who testified Friday before congress in character as a right wing, bloviating fool. Evidently it didn’t go well. People called it embarrassing, inappropriate, out of place and disrespectful. But let’s take a step back, shall we? First of all, this is congress we’re talking about. If bloviating fools aren’t allowed to testify there are going to be some pretty lonely congress-people up there. Second, Colbert warned them he was going to appear “in character.” Did they think he meant he was going to wear a bear costume? And third, he submitted his serious testimony in writing beforehand. I have no idea what he said in his written testimony and neither do you, which should tell you everything you need to know about the effectiveness of serious testimony.
But I will tell you why the Colbert thing backfired. Because nobody laughed, that’s why. Had he started with serious testimony and then announced he was going into character, and then come up with a funny line or two, all would have been well. But to press ahead with his act to stone-faced silence was just painful to watch.
Doing your act in front of stone-faced silence is something I know a thing or two about. Having had a few successful comedy performances and a few less successful comedy performances I can tell you there is a very simple distinction between what is funny and what is not: if they laugh it’s funny. That’s pretty much how it works.
Some other stuff happened recently, like congress voted down repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I’ve never really understood how that is supposed to work, by the way. I mean, the recruits go off on weekend leave and they come back and they’re sitting around and Bill says, man, we hooked up with these smokin’ babes at a bar. And Steve says, my girlfriend and I went out to the lake. Then they turn to Bruce and ask, what did you do this weekend, and Bruce says, Oh, nuthin'.
I guess the final bit of news was the Republicans released their Pledge to Do to America What They Did the Last Time They Were Allowed to Do Things to America. But this time things will be different. The Republicans realize they made mistakes the last time they were in charge. That’s why this time they are pledging to cut taxes for the super-rich, return us to the healthcare system which was serving us so well, remove pesky regulation from Wall Street and oil companies, and go to war with Iran at the earliest imaginary opportunity. Frankly, it would be less scary if they were pro-witchcraft.