The Half Hour News Hour's 15 Minutes

The Half Hour News Hour, a news satire show produced by 24's Joel Surnow, is set to become one of the worst pieces of television ever - mentioned in the same breath as Pink Lady and Jeff, Fish Police, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. There's one promo clip here, in which the hosts make fun of Barack Obama (with a Marion Barry joke! Where'd I put the keys to the time machine?) and another here, where Rush Limbaugh is president. In the interest of fairness, here's an opinion from folks who think this kicks The Daily Show's smug, New York ass all over the block.

The Half Hour News Hour is actually nothing like The Daily Show because The Half Hour News Hour is actually funny. The two stars, Kurt Long and Susan Yeagley, displayed none of Jon Stewart’s smug self-satisfied mugging or Colbert’s tiresome ironic self-awareness. Instead, they’re both charming performers with a strong chemistry who blend seriousness and absurdity in the same way SNL did in the heyday of it’s Weekend Update series.

This is... incorrect. Both of these promo clips get even the basic tenet of SNL news sketches wrong - they don't sell the premise. In the news segments, the hosts switch from news reader personas to infomercial personas. That's a big difference from SNL's "Weekend Update" - the goofiness that disrupts those segments occurs as the hosts play straight men. You don't shake up personas in the middle of a sketch. There's a similar structural problem with the President Limbaugh sketch. It begins with Limbaugh giving an address to the nation. OK, that's one type of sketch. Halfway through, it pivots to a "president at work" sketch, as Limbaugh takes calls and chats with the vice president. The joke, weak as it was, is scotched.

These are basic comedy 101 problems that don't address why the show fails to compete with the Daily Show. The point of the Daily Show, especially when it launched 11 years ago under Craig Kilborn, was never to provide a liberal take on the news. It was to make fun of the news. Early Daily Show segments parodied the movie review, human interest story, in-house ranter (Back in Black) and in-studio debate (Even Stevphen) segments of crappy local and national news broadcasts. The show got more political in the Bush era, but so did, uh everything - we've had two more land wars and around 20 percent more voter turnout then we did in the latter Clinton years.

In any case, TDS is part of a tradition of news shows that make fun of the cliches of news and media, and only secondarily make fun of politics. The show that did this earlier, and I think a little better, was Britain's "The Day Today." Here's a clip, where Steve Coogan, as a "who's looking out for you" reporter, parodies the tone of "your children are in danger" promos.

The target is the media, just like TDS's target is the media and "Weekend Update" targets the media and celebrities. This is why it's easy to imagine those two shows under some future Democratic presidency, and why it's easy to imagine Fox's satire going the way of The O'Franken Factor.

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  • ||

    "The Half Hour News Hour is actually nothing like The Daily Show because The Half Hour News Hour is actually funny."


    That's how you know you can safely ignore whatever comes next.

    TDS not funny? Here's the first question in the Daily Show's interview with former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. (Remember her? Rememnber what she got fired for?)

    "So...you grew up on a cucumber farm." Delivered deadpan, with polite "please, go on" nods as Dr. Elders answers. That's funny, I don't care who you are.

  • ||

    As I said to John yesterday...right wingers have a lousy sense of humor. (actually I said they had a lousy sense of self-deprecation but the same applies).

    Says it all that they describe Jon Stewart as 'smug' and the two charismatically-challenged hosts as 'charming performers with a strong chemistry'.

    Of course the most telling part was the fact that most of the audience didn't laugh very much.

  • Dan T.||

    One of the main reasons that the humor on The Daily Show works is that Jon Stewart and the other writers and performers assume an intelligent audience. For some reason, I doubt that this Fox rip-off is going to be willing to trust their viewers to get the message without beating them over the head with it.

    Also, TDS manages to be a liberal show that is not a partisan Democrat show. Can Fox resist just doing a TV version of a Republican talk-radio show?

  • ||

    Can Fox resist just doing a TV version of a Republican talk-radio show?

    Resist it? That's what Fox IS.

  • ||

    TDS manages to be a liberal show that is not a partisan Democrat show.

    TDS isn't afraid to mock and ridicule stupidity on the left. I doubt Fox's show will be that (dare I say it?) fair and balanced.

  • Ashish George||

    Given the fact that Jonah Goldberg's columns pass for wit on the right, it's obvious that the conservative standards for political humor aren't too high.

  • ||

    The Rush Limbaugh bit was backed by a laugh track...and it laughed hysterically at stuff that wasn't funny.

    I don't mean jokes that fell flat...I mean stuff that wasn't even a joke.

  • ||

    Liberals are funnier then conservatives for the same reason that they get laid more: they are allowed to.

    When you have to hedge your content to protect virtue and all, its going to suck. Just a theory.

    BTW SNL sucks. If you are shooting for SNL, and your opponent is going for Mr. Show, you are going to loose.

  • ed||

    Problem with Colbert is that he's always on, even when he's appearing on someone else's show. He's like Pee Wee Herman. The actual person seems to have disappeared within the TV persona. It has gotten tiresome. No way this premise can run 11 years.

  • ||

    "In any case, TDS is part of a tradition of news shows that make fun of the cliches of news and media, and only secondarily make fun of politics."

    Only secondarily? Have you actually watched the Daily Show recently? It's almost all politics. Now, this new Fox show may totally blow, but your description of The Daily Show as a show that mkes fun of media is just wrong. Why would every democrat politico want to appear on it if it was? They show up because they know their gonna get some lobbed some softballs.

  • STEPHEN THE GOLDBERGER||

    There's plenty of stupidity to be had at on both the left and the right. It's time to bring sophisticated political cynicism to the red states.

    If the show sucks it sucks, but why should smart ass political satire be exclusive to democrats? It will take time for the writers to hit their stride i'm sure early daily show and snl was pretty weak.

  • ||

    I heard the other day that TDS gave a pretty even handed interview to a person who dispute the global warming orthadoxy. I think Jon Stewart as a person is an insufferable jerk, but the show really isn't that slanted. No more so than anything else on TV. I think a lot of conservatives who get their panties in a wad over TDS conflate Stewart the Hollywood liberal person with the actual show. The show, while not as funny as it is made out to be, is not that over the top liberal. I never understood why people get so upset about it.

  • ||

    Nowhere near as good as
    The America Show
    .

  • Thomas||

    Whaaatttt.....? They insult TDS...

    Supposedly Jon Stewart is a libertarian, but more of a liberal-libertarian. Anyway the show to me is balanced, because they make fun of the democrats and the republicans.

    When watching Stewart or Colbert just remember to watch it like a comedy show, not a REAL political debate.

    :)

    I cannot stand Fox News anymore.

  • ||

    Liberals are funnier than conservatives for the same reason that they get laid more: they are allowed to.

    Agreed. Relatedly, I wonder why conservatives are good at talk radio while liberals fail?

  • ||

    John,

    "If you're not with us, you're against us."

    Stewart is persecuting conservatives, and we know this, because he isn't actively plumping for conservatism.

    Steven the Goldberger, early SNLs are considered the best, and early TDSs were quite funny, too.

  • Ashish George||

    "Problem with Colbert is that he's always on, even when he's appearing on someone else's show. He's like Pee Wee Herman. The actual person seems to have disappeared within the TV persona. It has gotten tiresome. No way this premise can run 11 years."

    What makes Colbert's show great is that you get the feeling anything can happen. It's one of the most unpredictable shows on tv. If he calls someone out, there's a good chance there will be a response or a follow-up in the weeks to come (examples: The Decemberists, Barry Manilow, Mort Zuckerman, the rival of the Sagina Spirit). I think Colbert's show will remain one of the best on tv for years to come.

  • Penry||

    Thanks for mentioning The Day Today, which was a pretty groundbreaking show, even if it was generally more clever than actually funny.

    Chris Morris went on to do the show Brass Eye, which caused a record number of viewer complaints when it sent up press hysteria about pedophiles. He managed to trick various celebrities into participating in what they thought was a public information campaign with the slogan "Nonce Sense" ("nonce" being British slang for a pervert.) As I remember, Phil Collins appeared on the show wearing a Nonce Sense t-shirt and delivered the slogan: "Nonce-sense, I'm talking nonce-sense"

  • ||

    "Liberals are funnier then conservatives for the same reason that they get laid more: they are allowed to.

    When you have to hedge your content to protect virtue and all, its going to suck."

    Since when has Rush Limbaugh hedged any of his content when joking about black people, homeless people, and liberals? Conservatives tell me they find his humor - like playing the them to "The Jeffersons" when discussing a wealthy or politically powerful black person - hilarious.

    The Half Hour News Hour, like Rush, is an explicitly right-wing show, which targets a self-identified right-wing audience. It's not as if the Murdoch people are forcing the writers to tone it down to avoid offending women and minorities.

  • ||

    I have to confess, I watch any TV news, either real or fake.

    However, those 1/2 Hour News Hour clips were just plain unfunny. And it really isn't that difficult to make scathing fun of the left.

    I agree with Weigel's assertion that fake news is only funny to the extent that it parodies news, not politics. I suspect that TDS may have trouble sustaining itself the more it gets away from doing that.

    That said, it's probably unfair to compare the Fox show or TDS to a British show, because Americans have some weird-ass fixation on not saying anything "mean-spirited" in the public arena, whereas mean-spiritedness is the lifeblood of British public life and is taken with the appropriate grain of salt. I frankly wish our political commentariat--in all of its varieties--would acquire a similar sort of venom. Politicians are nothing but useless parasites unless you can laugh at them.

  • ||

    I meant to say "I DON'T watch any TV news."

  • Dan T.||

    Agreed. Relatedly, I wonder why conservatives are good at talk radio while liberals fail?

    I'd say it's because conservatives are authoritarian, and talk radio demagogues represent strong authority figures who just so happen to agree with them. So it's comforting to be told that you're right by someone who should know - not to mention that the listener can enjoy the angry shout-down of the occasional liberal dissenter who calls in. Authority figures don't suffer fools gladly.

  • ||

    I haven't laughed at The Daily Show since Craig Kilborn sat behind the desk. Sure, the show is much bigger, grander and all that. It just isn't very funny anymore. Oh, and thanks, I'll never have the few minutes I spent watching that garbage Half Hour News Hour.

  • ||

    The Daily Show is kind of boring lately, but Colbert rocks. The guy is genuinely having fun, whether it's playing up a stereotype or confusing somebody that he's interviewing or tearing the sleaves off of his suit to play guitar.

    Face it, "Rock and Awe: Countdown to Guitarmageddon" was the finest half hour of television in a long time.

  • ||

    Since when has Rush Limbaugh hedged any of his content when joking about black people, homeless people, and liberals? Conservatives tell me they find his humor - like playing the them to "The Jeffersons" when discussing a wealthy or politically powerful black person - hilarious.

    I hate to say it, joe, but that IS funny. And yeah, it's also funny when black folks make fun of uptighty whities like me. I can deal with it, and if they can't well I say tough shit.

  • ||

    joe

    I was using the word virtue with the same connotation it carries when conservatives use it. I.e. protect the children. Or in other words violence and racism are cool, but sex and bad language well those just aren't allowed.

  • Bhh||

    I'm going to have to agree that Rush's Jeffersons bit is comedy gold.

    There probably is a pretty hilarious show to be made out of Limbaugh, but I'm thinking some sort of The Osbournes type reality show.

  • ||

    (with a Marion Barry joke! Where'd I put the keys to the time machine?)

    The last time I heard a Marion Barry joke I laughed so hard I fell off my dinosaur.

  • ||

    Wasn't the title "Half Hour News Hour" used for some other late-night news parody show some years back? Or am I confusing it with another (short-lived) show?

  • Some James||

    Was it me or did like half the "jokes" in the Rush segment (ie, about "adults taking over" and being back in charge and remaking rules, etc) all make it sound like they were taking over from Democrats and reforming things to how they "should" be, cleverly (conveniently?) forgetting who's been set up there the past six years?

    Not only was that laugh track horrible, but it sounded like the same clip played repeatedly. And in the first clip it sounded like there were only 4 far-too-enthusiastic people in the audience.

    I agree that TDS is at its best when lampooning the media overall, and not just sticking it to political-types (though that's plenty fertile too). I was skeptical about whether Colbert would be more than a single-joke show, but it's stayed consistently funny, far more than TDS nowadays.

    Also, wasn't there a Canadian news show parody called "This Hour is 22 Minutes"? Do these guys really want to be called out for ripping off CANADA?

  • Andrew||

    Wow. Those clips just were NOT funny. But I think I can now exactly mimic that guy in the laugh track. Doesn't Fox have enough cash to record a FEW laugh tracks, so it's not as obvious?

  • Some James||

    Mamba, I think we're thinking of the same show.

    Anonopotamous, that dinosaur joke was funnier than anything in those clips

  • John Norris Brown||

    Looked pretty crappy from what I saw. And the promo is outright awful.

  • ||

    Liberals are just funnier than conservatives. To be funny you have to be able to poke fun at authority. Conservatives rever authority, they have no sense of humor. Liberals have sacred cows of their own, but since they mock established authority they at least are not so reverential all the time. In theory libertarians should be the funniest.
    Today's conservative movement has big problems being funny: 1. they are such zealots...as pointed out here TDS and SNL may LEAN left but they are not totally consumed with ideology like many movement conservatives (George Allen's wife once said she would not eat at McDonalds because Clinton LIKED their food) and 2. Al Franken was right when he said conservatives don't get irony...I should probably add the conservative movements current infatuation with anti-intellectualism (fundamentalists don't make good comedians)

  • ||

    I haven't laughed at The Daily Show since Craig Kilborn sat behind the desk. Sure, the show is much bigger, grander and all that. It just isn't very funny anymore.

    Wow...I really have to question your sense of humor at this point. Craig Kilborn was horribly mediocre at the daily show, and was even worse on his Late Late show. Kilborn peaked on ESPN, and it's only been downhill from there for him. Talk about a smug asshole who thinks he's the wittiest/funniest guy in the room.

    I used to watch the Daily Show here and there during the Kilborn days and the only thing I truly missed when he left was his "5 questions" segment. Once Stwert took over the quality of the humor and mockery got much much better and I started watching regularly. The show became laugh out loud funny. Even friends of mine who are pretty non-political started watching and applauding the show once Stewart took over.

    I'll admit though, these days it seems like the show has lost some of its creative luster. They don't do nearly as many segments where their "political reporters" go to small towns and cover quirky local news stories or segments like Even Stevphen -- now its just a lot of "Senior XXX corrsepondent" giving a commentary.
    (Although Trendspotting with Demetri Martin is still pretty good when it airs)

  • ||

    "Problem with Colbert is that he's always on,..."

    O'Reilly: I'm not a tough guy, this is all an act.

    Colbert: If your an act, then what am I ?

  • STEPHEN THE GOLDBERGER||

    that rush limbaugh clip was god awful.

    The show looks like it will suck but I admire the balls to try and do it. Comedy is hard and the demand for funny conservative leaning satire is there, especially after the democrats take over in the next 4 years.

  • ||

    Since when has Rush Limbaugh hedged any of his content when joking about black people, homeless people, and liberals?

    The real point, joe, is that he DOES hedge his content when it comes to conservatives and authority figures.

    Imagine how truly funny - and influential- Rush might have been had he turned some of his

  • ||

    (SORRY...hit wrong button...to continue...)...humor on to Republicans that had stopped acting like conservatives.

    The only republican who gets the brunt of Rush's garbage is McCain. Rush would likely get some truck with liberals if he was enough of a talent to justifiably knock some Conservatives too.

  • ||

    madpad, steveintheknow,

    Now I get it. Yes, you are correct.

  • ||

    Oh, c'mon, I liked Craigers! Of course he was a smug asshole - that's why he did so many bits about what a smug asshole he was. That's why he called himself "Craigers."

    I think I've got the answer to why TDS is so much funnier than the Half Hour News Hour:

    John Stewart uses politics to advance his humor. He ends up with good humor, and incoherent politics.

    THHNH uses humor to advance its politics, and ends up with crappy humor and a political message as crisp as anything Frank Luntz ever dreamed up.

  • ||

    Wasn't the title "Half Hour News Hour" used for some other late-night news parody show some years back? Or am I confusing it with another (short-lived) show?

    I think there is, or was, a show on MTV called "The Half Hour Comedy Hour."

  • Timothy||

    I liked Kilborn WAY better than I like John Stewart, but I have to agree that Colbert is brilliant.

  • ||

    Funniest thing Limbaugh ever did was that "I am a Nazi" song. "Face of a horse's ass" - that's gold!


    Who was that global warming guy on TDS the other night?
    He was good. That guy ought to be on TV all over the place. If he were on a show that allowed some more time he could have scored some points, I'll reckon. With the moment he had, he got some funny lines out.

  • ||

    Yes, SD, that's it, although I don't recall anything about the show. I guess a lot of late night comedy/variety shows have come and gone over the years.

    By the way, I have pleasant associations of "Pink Lady", though I'm sure it was awful and I don't remember anything about it specifically, except that it featured a couple of hot Japanese women and a smug host (I guess that would be "Jeff"). I was about ten years old at the time and was thrilled to be staying up late on Saturday night and watching the kind of TV that adults watched.

  • Jesse Walker||

    It begins with Limbaugh giving an address to the nation. OK, that's one type of sketch. Halfway through, it pivots to a "president at work" sketch, as Limbaugh takes calls and chats with the vice president. The joke, weak as it was, is scotched.

    Hmm. I thought that sudden shift was the only thing in the sketch that was funny.

    Actually, the Cindy Sheehan line was kind of funny, but Limbaugh delivered it poorly and then that horrible laugh track (how did they find one that sounded so fake?) killed whatever was left of it.

  • ||

    My personal favorite "Media Mock" show was UK's "Brass Eye" - which was their take on 'A Current Affair' type TV Tabloid Magazine Show... It was produced by Chris Morris, same guy who did The Day Today show... he's actually the anchor in the above clip

    Their "British-Isles? OR Pedoph-Isles?" extended episode is deadly.

    Here's "Good AIDS vs Bad AIDS"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFNs2mOkKzc&mode=related&search=

  • ||

    If the show sucks it sucks, but why should smart ass political satire be exclusive to democrats?

    Because comedy has a well-known liberal bias.

  • ||

    I liked Fish Police. It was no Family Dog, but still...

  • ||

    Limbaugh used to play the theme to the Jeffersons whenever he talked about Carol Mosely Braun spending her campaign money on lavish trips to Switzerland and going places like the Alps on the government dime for "fact finding trips". Mosely Braun was a crook and the using the Jefferson's theme song was funny as hell. CrisO is right and Joe is a humorless liberal.

  • ||

    Also if Limbaugh is so bad for using that song when referencing successful black people, what does that make Norman Lear for using the song as a theme song for a sitcom about a successful black entrepreneur?

  • ||

    Speaking of the Jeffersons, when the hell are they going to get around to remaking it into a movie with Cedric the Entertainer as George and Queen Latifah as Louise? Damn it if the Dukes of Hazard can get a remake, why not the Jeffersons!!

  • ||

    "The Half Hour News Hour, a news satire show produced by 24's Joel Surnow, is set to become one of the worst pieces of television ever - mentioned in the same breath as Pink Lady and Jeff, Fish Police, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

    Hey! I like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

  • ||

    "Limbaugh used to play the theme to the Jeffersons whenever he talked about Carol Mosely Braun"

    and oddly enough, he never used it when he talked about white politicians. Why might that be?

    "Also if Limbaugh is so bad for using that song when referencing successful black people, what does that make Norman Lear for using the song as a theme song for a sitcom about a successful black entrepreneur?"

    Uh huh. Talk to the next time some liberal plays music featuring people yelling yee-haw and twanging banjos whenever he talks about a polician from the south.

  • ||

    "Uh huh. Talk to the next time some liberal plays music featuring people yelling yee-haw and twanging banjos whenever he talks about a polician from the south."

    So you are saying the Lear was wrong to use the song? If so why and how is that any different from Limbaugh?

  • ||

    Uh huh. Talk to the next time some liberal plays music featuring people yelling yee-haw and twanging banjos whenever he talks about a polician from the south.

    Actually, I think that's pretty funny, also, but then I evidently don't have the sort of "nuanced" sense of humor that you liberals do.

  • ||

    "So you are saying the Lear was wrong to use the song?" Nope. Nor am I saying there's anything wrong with old timey/bluegress-style counry music.

    "If so why and how is that any different from Limbaugh?"

    Because one of them was using the song as just a song, and the other was using our awareness of the song's history and cultural meaning to draw attention to make fun of certian politicians for being black.

  • ||

    Scores of books have been written on the role of communists and socialists in the U.S., dour chronicles of welcome failure. But very few writers have devoted much attention to the role of libertarians, a more appealing and optimistic group of thinkers, political activists and ordinary citizens who believe that respect for the individual and the spontaneous order of market forces are the key to progress and social well-being.

    The neglect is strange, given how much libertarians and their limited-government logic have shaped the culture and economy of the U.S. The ideas of John Locke and David Hume animated the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Libertarian principles kept what we think of as "big government" in check for much of the 19th century and well into the 20th, despite tariffs and war. The federal income tax officially arrived, in permanent form, as late as 1913. Coolidge and his Treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, took a famously minimalist approach to governing. Of course, we now live in a post-FDR age, with government programs everywhere. Still, the libertarian impulse is part of our political culture. "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism," Ronald Reagan declared.

    Today, pollsters find only 2% of people refer to themselves as libertarians, but some 15% of voters hold broadly libertarian views and can be a swing factor. In the photo-finish presidential race of 2000, some 72% of libertarian-minded voters supported George W. Bush. Last November, many of them abandoned the GOP, disillusioned by its profligate ways, and helped hand control of Congress to Democrats.

    With "Radicals for Capitalism," Brian Doherty finally gives libertarianism its due. He tracks the movement's progress over the past century by focusing on five of its key leaders--Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard and Milton Friedman. The emphasis is on their ideas, but Mr. Doherty also takes into account their personal struggles--not least their feuds with other thinkers and their relation to an intellectual establishment that for most of their lives thought they were either crazy or irrelevant or both.

    Libertarian ideas have enjoyed a surge of respect lately, helped by the collapse of Soviet central planning, the success of lower tax rates and the appeals of various figures in popular culture (e.g., Drew Carey, John Stossel and Clint Eastwood) who want government out of both their bedroom and wallet. Even so, libertarianism is often not the people's choice. Part of the problem is the inertia of the status quo. "In a world where government has its hand in almost everything," Mr. Doherty writes, "it requires a certain leap of imagination to see how things might work if it didn't." Many people couldn't make that leap when, for example, economists proposed channeling some Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts.
    Mr. Doherty introduces us to an entertaining cast of minor characters who kept individualist ideas alive from the New Deal through the Great Society. There was Rose Wilder Lane, the editor of her mother's "Little House on the Prairie" frontier books, and Robert Heinlein, the science-fiction writer who coined the acronym "Tanstaafl" (for "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch"). Howard Buffett, the father of financier Warren Buffett, was a fiery Old Right congressman from Nebraska who compared the military draft to a form of slavery. During World War II, Henry Hazlitt put economic analysis from his friend von Mises into unsigned editorials he wrote for the New York Times, then a far more free-market paper than today.

    Mr. Doherty is candid enough to note that not every individualist he sketches consistently respected the rights of individuals. Textile baron Roger Milliken, for instance, required his executives to attend a libertarian "college" in the Rockies but also lobbied for tariffs to protect his products. And other libertarians showed a certain want of personal character. LSD guru Timothy Leary raised money for Libertarian Party candidates but didn't exercise the integrity or personal responsibility he himself said must accompany freedom. Ayn Rand sold millions of copies of her novels but treated her acolytes abominably and "ended up kicking out of her life pretty much everybody."

    Inevitably--as with any constellation of like-minded people--there is squabbling and the petty search for heretics. But there is also, Mr. Doherty shows, the great work of fertile, unorthodox minds. Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick abandoned the New Left when he realized capitalism worked best but acknowledged feeling for a while that "only bad people would think so." Hayek, a supreme rationalist, ended his life believing that "a successful free society will always be in a large measure a tradition-bound society." He even praised religion for encouraging restraint and long-term thinking "under circumstances where everyone believes that God will punish all for the sins of some."

    Today the Internet has become, Mr. Doherty notes, an efficient way to transmit libertarian ideas and show their practical application. (With its decentralized, free-wheeling ethos, the Internet is itself libertarian without even trying to be.) Jimmy Wales, the man who started the interactive online encyclopedia Wikipedia, believes that "facts can help set the world free." The largest retail market in the world is eBay, which allows anyone to buy and sell without a government license.
    Louis Rosetto, the "radical capitalist" who founded Wired magazine, notes that, even if libertarian ideas must now push against a statist status quo, "contrarians end up being the drivers of change." Among the most ornery contrarians, he says, are the libertarians "laboring in obscurity, if not in derision." They have managed "to keep a pretty pure idea going, adapting it to circumstances and watching it be validated by the march of history." Mr. Doherty has rescued libertarianism from its own obscurity, eloquently capturing the appeal of the "pure idea," its origins in great minds and the feistiness of its many current champions.

  • ||

    Ladies and Gentleman, Brian Doherty's wife.

  • ||

    "So you are saying the Lear was wrong to use the song?" Nope. Nor am I saying there's anything wrong with old timey/bluegress-style counry music."

    Actually I don't Joe. The odd redneck of deliverance joke is pretty damn funny if done well.

    Further, I don't see any difference between Limbaugh and Lear except that Limbaugh occasionally was pointing to crooks like Mosely Braun. George Jefferson was a comic over the top black character and Lear used the song, which is catchy and pretty funny as a theme song. If it is good enough for George Jefferson, why not Barrack Obama or Jessee Jackson?

  • ||

    Who was that global warming guy on TDS the other night?

    It was Christopher Horner, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (published by Regnery).

    BTW -- the Amazon page for the book has a negative review (by someone who calls him/herself "Hardheaded Reader") that is absolutely priceless: "The Competitive Enterprise Institute, of which the author is a fellow, was founded in the mid-80s to promote the free market philosophy and to limit or repeal govt regulations relating to drug safety and fuel economy (and even rent control!). . . ." The exclamation point after "rent control" is comedy gold.

  • ||

    Maybe Rush should use bits of old Stepin Fetchit dialog. That would be the very height of racial hilarity.

  • ||

    "published by Regnery"

    Also comic gold.

  • ||

    Talk to the next time some liberal plays music featuring people yelling yee-haw and twanging banjos whenever he talks about a polician from the south.

    I guess you've never watched the TV show Hee-Haw.

  • Warren||

    Weigel's got one thing right. TDS is/was funny when it made fun of the news. As time went on it got more partisan and less funny. I haven't watched it since the episode where John Stewart fellatiated John Kerry.

  • ||

    Even Rent Control!! God that is comedy gold. Why don't he just add that they are also trying to floridate the water and steal his pure essence. Some day when I get bored enough I am going to take up the mantra of leftist wing nut and start posting increasingly outragous Amazon reviews and Kos comments and see how long it takes me before I say something even they can't agree with.

  • ||

    ""published by Regnery"
    Also comic gold."

    My! What a self-aggrandizing asshole!

  • ||

    "Some day when I get bored enough I am going to..."

    Given the amount of time you spend posting, I think it's safe to say that day came and went a long, long time ago.

  • Warren||

    BTW,
    I use to live near Canada back in the late 90's and got a CBC channel on my basic cable. There was a show called "The Royal Canadian Air Farce". It was a little low budget, but as irreverent and funny as anything.

  • ||

    "Weigel's got one thing right. TDS is/was funny when it made fun of the news."

    Truthier words have never been uttered.

  • ||

    "Actually I don't Joe. The odd redneck of deliverance joke is pretty damn funny if done well."

    Well, some of us think making fun of people's race and social group is funny, and some of us don't.

    "I guess you've never watched the TV show Hee-Haw."

    I guess you don't know the difference between a musical comedy and a political affairs show.

  • ||

    "Ladies and Gentleman, Brian Doherty's wife."

    Can you believe the unmittigated gall of this woman, thinking she could post someting on this site pertaining to Libertarianism?

  • ||

    I think "right wingers" can be funny and have been, but once they establish themselves as funny, they tend to lose the "right wing" tag.

    P.J. O'Rourke is often very funny, the guys from South Park alternate between twisted and hysterical and apparently one of the guys who made 'Airplane' made an amusing anti-Kerry commercial during 2004. These guys may not be too comfortable with large swaths of the people who support Republicans, but it seems like they are uncomfortable with larger portions of the Democratic base.

    Now its true that water carriers for the Republicans are seldom funny, but then water carriers for the Democrats are seldom funny (at least intentionally) either. joe is a good example.

    Still, both 'W' and the first lady had fairly humorous stuff written for them at the White House Correspondents Dinners. Maybe the thing for the new show to do is to drop the agenda for a bit, and take swipes at Republicans (or better, Fox News) for a bit.

    It's a bit easier to get laughs at self-deprecating humor then it is to get them with a clear agenda. George Carlin isn't nearly as funny when he's mad at someone than he is when he's just looking for the nearest laugh he can find. Taking yourself too seriously is a danger for any performer, it's absolutely death on comedians.

  • ||

    Now its true that water carriers for the Republicans are seldom funny, but then water carriers for the Democrats are seldom funny (at least intentionally) either. joe is a good example.

    joe can be funny. Very funny.

  • ||

    "joe can be funny."

    Rarely and never when he's cheerleading for the home team.

  • ||

    I disagree with you on the "rarely," and I will add that no one is funny when cheerleading.

  • Lazlo Nibble||

    Their "British-Isles? OR Pedoph-Isles?" extended episode is deadly.


    All by itself, Welcome To Paedogeddon is worth the cost of the import "Brass Eye" DVD + a region free player. Now if the BBC would just get series boxes issued for Not The Nine O'Clock News...

  • ||

    I guess you don't know the difference between a musical comedy and a political affairs show.

    Perhaps there is a difference, but you're the one who specified banjos.

  • ||

    TDS actually has gone back to its roots over the past couple of weeks. Stewart has been *brutal* on the media for its reactions to the Diaper-Wearing Astronaut and Anna Nicole Smith's death, for instance. And it's really funny, effective stuff.

    My problem with TDS isn't Jon Stewart, though - it's the damn audience. Stewart can make an absolutely hysterical joke about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the audience titters. But if he goes with an uninspired "Bush is stupid" gag, the applause is deafening. Every time.

    I can't really say I blame Jon Stewart for going back to the easy laugh trough so often. But it gets old very fast. As long as the studio is full of college kids who think the whole purpose of the show is to make fun of Republicans, it's going to be frequently uninspired.

  • Nobody Important||

    Ken | February 15, 2007, 12:49pm
    Liberals are just funnier than conservatives. To be funny you have to be able to poke fun at authority. Conservatives rever authority, they have no sense of humor. Liberals have sacred cows of their own, but since they mock established authority they at least are not so reverential all the time. In theory libertarians should be the funniest.



    "Question authority, but not ours. Hate the man, but we're not him." (November 11, 2004)

  • Nobody Important||

    David Weigel | February 15, 2007, 11:20am
    The Half Hour News Hour, a news satire show produced by 24's Joel Surnow, is set to become one of the worst pieces of television ever - mentioned in the same breath as Pink Lady and Jeff, Fish Police, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.



    You forgot to mention the Sarah Silverman Program.

    What a disappointment that was.

  • karen marie||

    to steven above who said "i'm sure early daily show and snl was pretty weak": snl has never or rarely been funnier than it was the first three years it was on, back well before you were born, i'm guessing.

    learn from the gazillions of examples the rightwing gives us every day -- asserting your feelings or ideas as fact will only set you up to fall into the pit of "truthiness," where up is down and black is white. "i think" is NOT equivalent to "it is so."

  • ||

    The Coulter line about "we'll invade your countries, kill your leaders, and convert you to Christianity" (referring to her controversial post-9/11 column), although poorly and stiffly delivered, showed a sense of humor about herself I never would have thought Coulter possessed.

  • PJ Doland||

    I like Studio 60 too.

  • Dave Sueer||

    The problem with your analysis is that you assume comedy should be formulaic and done exactly the way it had been done before. That approach stifled network TV comedies into boring predictable patterns. All good satire does offend certain groups of people, and they all tend have their own new take on things.

    I hope they DON'T try to be SNL, that show hasn't been funny in years.

  • ||

    TDS does an excellent job at ridiculing the ridiculous. That in itself is not partisan. It just so happens that the conservative right in this country is really, really ridiculous. The best humor has truth in it.

  • ||

    Wow, I saw the show again and it is really bad. I really think I could do a better job of writing, acting or participating in the annoying laugh track. Being self-righteously indigant about an issue is fuel for comedy. Being genuinely pissed off about somebody who beats the system but doesn't really affect you, there's no comedy there.

  • ||

    "TDS does an excellent job at ridiculing the ridiculous. That in itself is not partisan."

    Now that's funny.
    Sad too if you really believe it. Stewart is a raving lib, and that's fine. To imply the show isn't partisan...LOL

  • timitoes||

    Is it partisan to believe that people should have access to truthfull information from their leaders? "Conservatives" do a good job in framing debates to appear that there is equal validity in viewpoints held by a powerfully rich minority. Labels like liberal or conservative are a distraction from critical thinking. Jon Stewart's "raving" liberalness is much closer to mainstream values (dare I say moderate?) than what is considered conservatism today.

  • ||

    I watched the first 15 minuets of it, and it started off pretty funny, it went down hill really fast.

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