In my quest to obtain knowledge about Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart from a source other than Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, I found a book at the library aptly titled Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era. Colbert is even on the cover looking very handsome. It’s safe to say that my reporting is going well!
I dove right because there is no better way to spend my allotted homework time than to read about television programming that I don’t actually feel guilty watching. (I can only justify my Toddlers and Tiaras intake for so long.)
I thought it would be fitting to begin my first blog post where Satire TV begins its first page: Colbert’s speech at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in 2006. This was my introduction to Colbert. I had never seen his show, which debuted the year before. Yet, when more than one friend told me to watch the video of him roasting Bush and the media at the Correspondents Dinner, I did. And what I received was the most entertaining 20 minutes to ever grace C-SPAN (the British Parliament is a close second… Alistair, your people are awesome).
Colbert’s speech was daring to say the least. It gets pretty uncomfortable pretty fast. But his confidence never falters, and he speaks more truth with comedy than the press does with sincerity. As the authors of Satire TV write, “Colbert’s boldness crystallized the sad irony that contemporary satire TV often says what the press is too timid to say, proving itself a more critical interrogator of politicians at times and a more effective mouthpiece of the people’s displeasure with those in power, including the press itself” (4).
When comparing the effectiveness and impact of Colbert and Stewart, this speech will amount to one of the many reasons why I prefer Colbert: Stewart may be more “real” because he’s not playing a character, but Colbert is more often seen in the real world. He makes more of an attempt to impact society, and he isn’t afraid to get up in front of a bunch of people at a Senate hearing or a White House function and say ridiculous things to prove a much-needed point. He’s simply more bad ass.