Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The Daily Show: Thursday 28 Feb 2008

This was a fairly average edition, with some Bush material that felt like filler and an interview that didn’t go beyond the perfunctory. Historically, the Daily Show has always been good at capturing the dichotomy of the Bush presidency, the maliciously wrong and the incompetent stupidity. Today’s material didn’t really add to that dynamic, and the selection of John Oliver to present it was odd. His anger at the president didn’t seem heartfelt and it wasn’t quite right for him to be lamenting the lost opportunities, what with him being English and all. Then again, anything leading up to Bush ‘awkwardly dancing to tribal rhythm’ isn’t a complete waste of time.

Equally, the interview with Brian Wilson was stagnant. Wilson’s refusal to opine wasn’t as funny as he thought, and not even he could have thought his analysis of this ‘collision in history’ noteworthy. Instead of all his asinine platitudes, Jon should have kept the jokes coming (responding to a compliment about the Oscars with, ‘And I have never hosted a presidential debate, but you did’; ‘Which candidate are you biased against? Obama because you’re sexist or Clinton because you’re racist?’)

Trendspotting with Demetri Martin, however, is always a treat. The understated comedy from contributors like him and John Hodgman is far more enjoyable, I find, than the forced brashness of Jason Jones and Rob Riggle, the forced cynicism of John Oliver, and the forced filth of Samantha Bee. Today’s feature was on a prick called Itay Hod, who believes the young only respond to politics when it is heavy on the graphics, when you go to ‘where the young kids are hanging’, and when you address them, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ As Demetri noted, you ‘can’t just explain stuff to kids in a thoughtful manner. Yawn!’

Not all of his flights of fancy worked, but enough did: ‘ez on the unccssry ltrs’; ‘take the s off, it’s more cas’; ‘Hillary’s tight as [something bleeped]’. In particular, he’s one of the more effective abusers of Jon Stewart, today using him to show how turtlenecks ‘make even the lamest person cool’. It was a shame they tacked on the pointless dressing-up bit at the end of the segment.

The nice touches aside, I still liked seeing idiots like Itay being exposed. Coincidentally, just before watching the episode someone had been telling me about meeting the man behind top BBC shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and all that shit. Apparently, he was inspiring because he could visualise so clearly what would appeal to which demographic. Thus, these programmes for morons uniformly feature a sportsman for the dads to like, someone old for grandparents to like, ad nauseam.

Ridiculing Itay was the perfect antidote to worshipping the false idol. Pandering to lowest common denominators certainly does require intelligence, but an incredibly limited and base intelligence. There is always a market for quality, and those who reject it aren’t doing so in the anticipation of greater profits from garbage but because they lack the imagination and creative talent to make money from smart TV.

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