Negotiations between Hollywood writers and their employers have been at a standstill for several weeks. The writers’ strike won’t affect most prime-time programs for some time since studios have enough material in the hopper to get them through the season. The strike has, however, affected daily shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman. It should be noted that Late Night with Conan O’Brien is one of the few programs paying its support staff while the Writers' Guild haggles over their right to first class airfare. (See Jennsylvania.com for a succinct viewpoint from a working-class writer.)
The strike has led the programs of media darlings Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to rely on reruns. Given that they have cable shows with mediocre ratings by prime-time standards, it’s peculiar that they would be mentioned in nearly every article about the writers’ strike. The fact that they use writers should come as a shock to many people since we have to endure the mainstream media’s multiple orgasms over the brilliance of Stewart and Colbert. Perhaps the real writers are on to something. If I were one of them, I would strike, too.
Truthfully, I was once a fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. One of my favorite political lines comes from Jon Stewart’s satirical explanation of why gay marriage is wrong. To paraphrase: Marriage is sacred because in America marriage is meant to be between a man and the woman the audience chooses for him.
I realize that there’s nothing more fatal to a joke than explaining it, but I’ll labor on. Stewart and Colbert (or their writers, rather) are at their funniest when the jokes have a grain of truth. Even conservatives can agree that the “marriage is sacred” line is funny when juxtaposed with pop culture realities. However, as Stewart and Colbert became more popular with the media elite, their shows’ goal shifted from entertaining apathetic college kids to recycling the Left’s tired method of arguing with conservatives (Hypocrite! Racist! Homophobe! Christian!).
Liberals like Colbert and Stewart gather media accolades on the intelligence and intricacies of their satire while conservative writers like Ann Coulter and Mark Steyn get blank stares and hoity toity sniffles when they make jokes. Last week I had the pleasure of seeing both of them in action. Steyn spoke at a CAMERA-sponsored event in Philadelphia and Coulter spoke at the National Journalism Center’s 30th Anniversary. Unfortunately, I could only watch the latter on C-SPAN.
A dapper Steyn entertained an audience at the Har Zion Temple when he spoke on “Outsourcing the Future: The West World’s-Historical Gamble.” Steyn said, “There are no jokes in Islam.” Come to think of it, with their longing to see America fail, rioting in the streets, anti-Semitism and aversion to deodorant, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between Islamo-fascists and the humorless Left.
Following his speech, he thoughtfully answered a slew of questions and signed copies of his book, America Alone: The End of the World As Know It. Steyn remains at least somewhat more optimistic than the iconic Pat Buchanan in his new book.
Coulter, a graduate of the National Journalism Center’s internship program, celebrated her sixth New York Times bestseller in October with If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans. The book is a collection of Coulter’s insightful and funniest quotes. Thus far, the only memorable quote from the Left’s self-appointed comedic genius Al Franken is “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, dog gone it, people like me.” It’s just too bad those people don’t listen to talk radio. By the way, any comedian who has to use “With Jokes” in the title of his book is not funny.
In October Stephen Colbert’s I Am America also reached the top of the bestseller list. It’s sitting on my bookshelf, mostly unread, while Coulter’s books are dog-eared and marked beyond recognition. I Am America does have one advantage – it includes a fancy red bookmark to forever mark (pg. 64) my intolerance for reading the same “conservatives are stuffy and weird” joke over and over. The gag that catapulted him to comedic stardom wasn’t his inaccurate portrayal of a conservative, but his accurate portrayal of a cable TV blowhard.
Unlike their counterparts on the Left, Coulter and Steyn have a great deal of substance between their jokes and that’s the key to their success. Conservatives are honest about their support while liberals practice affirmative action for their second-rate authors. As long as liberals labor at the altar of political correctness, they will never match the success of conservatives like Coulter and Steyn.