Wednesday, September 09, 2015

September 9, 2015--Take My Husband, Please

Suddenly everyone is talking about funny.

Last night Stephen Colbert took over the Late Show. People have been anticipating and talking about it for nine long, long months. Would he be as funny being Stephen Colbert as he was inhabiting his crazed right-wing persona? People wondered if what we will get on CBS as opposed to the Comedy Channel will be the "real" Colbert.

Illusion and reality. Remember that from your introductory college lit course?

We managed to stay up late enough to see at least a little of the new show and it only served to remind me how much I miss his old one. Not that he wasn't funny. It's just that he wasn't so trenchantly and deliriously funny. But time will tell.

It will help if he'll soon move on from all the self-referential shtick that made up so much of last night's monologue.

One of his guests was Jeb Bush, about the least funny, low energy politicians in America. OK, you got me, there's George Pataki. And Ben Carson. And, to be fair and balanced, Martin O'Malley.

These days you can't run for the presidency without appearing on the equivalent of Laugh In (Richard Nixon) or Arsinio Hall (Bill Clinton in shades playing the sax) or John McCain on Saturday Night Live (of course Sarah Palin too--both as herself and in Tina Fey's realer-than-life incarnation).

When he was running, Barack Obama showed up everywhere, from Jay Leno to doing skits on SNL to boogying with Ellen to trading quips with Letterman and Kimmel.

Wooden candidates from Michael Dukakis to Al Gore, some say, lost the presidency because they lacked a sense of humor. They were missing the "likability" factor.

Speaking of likability, do you recall back in 2008 how when candidate Hillary Clinton was faulted for not being likable, during one of the debates, Obama was asked what he thought about that?

With impeccable timing he said, "She's likable [one beat, two beats] enough." He was roundly criticized for that.

But you know (one beat, two beats) he was right.

She was, and is, not a natural politician and thus comes across as not that likable. Which these days can be a fatal problem.

But that's about to change.

Her campaign over the weekend announced that they're going back to the drawing board and the new Hillary Clinton they promised will be likable.

The scripted, extra-careful, humorless Hillary is about to be funny.

And, risking a gender-bending reaction, it was announced she will be more spontaneous. In the words of her campaign managers, she will speak "from the heart."

What they failed to note is that claiming they can just turn on the funny switch and thereby humanize Hillary is further confirmation that her campaign, and the candidate herself, is an artificial construct.

One minute she's sober and presidential, the next she's hanging out in the back of the press bus knocking down beers and cracking jokes with reporters and getting booked on Ellen and The Tonight Show.

How phony will her new personality seem? I suspect she will come across as pandering and desperate. And it will ironically underscore what many think about her--that she's inauthentic.

Yes, Hillary makes fun of her 'dos ("The hair is real, the color isn't"), which is sort of funny, at least the first time you hear it. But the fact that it is now part of her anti-TRUMP stump speech--he clearly has hair issues--makes it less funny every time it's repeated.

Pretty pathetic.

But, hey, this is 2015! Get with it. It's all about social media and because of social media it's all about being cool and likable. And being likable means you have to be funny.

Even if you aren't.

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