Download Strange bedfellows: how late-night comedy turns democracy by Russell L. Peterson PDF

By Russell L. Peterson

It really is no twist of fate that presidential applicants were making it some extent so as to add the late-night comedy circuit to the crusade path in recent times. In 2004, whilst John Kerry made up our minds it was once time to do his first nationwide tv interview, he didn't opt for CBS's 60 mins, ABC's Nightline, or NBC Nightly information. Kerry picked Comedy Central's The day-by-day exhibit. while George W. Bush used to be lagging within the polls, his visual appeal at the David Letterman exhibit gave him a measurable advance. applicants for the 2008 presidential election started their late-night bookings virtually once they introduced their campaigns. How can this be? the reason being that polls were continually discovering major variety of Americans-and an excellent higher share of these lower than the age of thirty-get a minimum of a few of their "news" approximately politics and nationwide affairs from comedy indicates. whereas this development towards what a few have known as "infotainment" turns out to usher in the descent of our nationwide discourse-the triumph of leisure over substance-the fact, in response to Russell L. Peterson, is extra advanced. He explains that this programming is greater than an insignificant substitute for normal information shops; it performs its personal position in shaping public notion of presidency and the political approach. From Johnny Carson to Jon Stewart, from Chevy Chase's spoofing of President Ford on Saturday evening stay to Stephen Colbert's roasting of President Bush on the White condominium Correspondents Dinner, unusual Bedfellows explores what americans have stumbled on so humorous approximately our political associations and the folks who inhabit them, and asks what this says concerning the wellbeing and fitness of our democracy. evaluating the mainstream community hosts-Jay, Dave, Conan, and Johnny ahead of them-who have regularly strived to be "equal chance offenders" to the more recent, edgier crop of comedians on cable networks, Peterson indicates how every one model of satire performs off a distinct point of american citizens' frustrations with politics.

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What’s more, bringing the message to the medium would get harder before it got easier. Mort Sahl’s anti-establishment ‘tude may have been too hot for the tube, but things were about to get much, much hotter. First the Rain, Then the Flood As the cataclysms of the 1960s—the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement, assassinations, race riots, generational conflict, cultural and political upheaval—arose to shatter the postwar consensus, television comedy escaped into fantasyland. While the news showed us flag-draped coffins and burning cities, prime time showed us talking horses and genies.

9 In the gathering phase, it would be safe to say that Johnny and company would have been operating at a considerable disadvantage to Walter’s crew. Cronkite was the front man for an operation that employed a host of reporters, camera operators, sound-recordists, producers, and editors, stationed all over the world—a vast, fact-gathering army, standing at the ready wherever there was a quote to be gotten or a gale-force wind to lean into. Carson and his writers had access only to the facts already gathered (and selected) by CBS and the rest of the news media—a wealth of material, to be sure, but all of it obtained secondhand, by perusing newspapers, magazines, and television.

His opposition to the family and medical leave bill? His position on affirmative action? ) How about “old guy who refers to himself in the third person”? Yeah, I thought so. Okay, let’s see if you can identify the following: a) Liked jelly beans, and began every sentence with “Well . ”; b) Enjoyed McDonald’s french fries, and had an eye for the ladies; c) Could not spell “potato”; d) Screamed like a madman after coming in third in the Iowa caucus. If you answered a) Ronald Reagan; b) Bill Clinton; c) Dan Quayle; and d) Howard Dean, you are correct—but it’s entirely possible you haven’t read a newspaper in the last twenty years.

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