Sometime back around the time Steven Colbert got a job on late-night TV, late night TV stopped being funny.
Well, funny in the conventional sense, meaning “it arouses some kind of amused reaction from me”.
And it’s not a political thing; I laughed at Dennis Miller just as hard when he was a smug liberal as I do now that he’s a 9/11 conservative of sorts. His White Album – a one-hour monologue from 25-odd years ago – is no less funny than it was when it came out. I didn’t laugh any harder at Norm MacDonald after his low-key and sometimes incongruous conservatism started coming out – he’s just a comic genius. Chris Rock, Dennis Leary, Sam Kinison – all of them are hilarious, and to some degree or another way, way to my left.
There may be no greater litmus test of American social views than one’s opinion of Michelle Wolf’s “comic” routine at last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Most people think it was pretty dreadful – but the consensus among NPR hosts for the past year has been pretty rapturous. (The free market spoke loud and clear – her Netflix talk show flamed out faster than the sales curve on a Mick Jagger solo album).
Judge for yourself:
The noted conservative tool Andrew Ferguson, and that noted conservative fishwrap The Atlantic, calls it out…:
There had been lots of anti-Trump demonstrations lately, Wolf noted, with protesters carrying homemade signs. How many signs? “Poster board is flying off the shelves faster than Robert Mueller can say, ‘You’ve been subpoenaed!’” If there’s humor in Paul Ryan’s circumcision—and I’m willing to be persuaded—she failed to find it. Chris Christie, Wolf suggested, was fat. She provided her own kind of abortion counseling: If you do terminate a pregnancy, she advised, motioning oddly with her elbow, “you’ve gotta get that baby outa there.” At her last line she leaned intimately into the microphone: “Flint still doesn’t have clean water.”
…among many examples of the complete death of comedy. He refers to late night TV – but I’m pretty sure it’s all of pop culture; political “comedy”, at least as understood by mainstream popular culture, is dead.