Sunday, January 21, 2007

I am officially old

Rich Little is performing at the White House Press Corp. dinner:

While the name is probably unfamiliar to people under 40, Little was a popular Las Vegas performer and guest star on TV variety shows of the 1960s and 1970s. He's best known for impressions of celebrities (Johnny Carson, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Benny) and presidents (Nixon and Reagan) who are no longer with us.

But "edgy" Little isn't. Even in his heyday, he didn't do biting topical satire or searing political humor. As a performer, he's more "Ed Sullivan" than "Daily Show."

I wouldn't call him Ed Sullivanesque either, but what does a writer under 40 know? My goodness what a sympathetic piece to the Press Corp. Argh and then they have Daily Show's Lewis Black insulting Little:
"It's like going from Jackson Pollock to paint-by-numbers. God love Rich Little, but he's not in this decade. He's in no position to pose any threat to anyone. He makes Bob Hope look like Lenny Bruce. It's sad that we've reached this point" with comedy as political expression.
Really? I think it's sad that we've reached the point of such rudeness to beloved comedians! Derrrr, am grumpy because while playing with the kids they both screamed in my ears, and I still have a ringing.

There is a type of comedy other than political, isn't there? No one seems to remember Little's hilarious impression of Nixon dancing on stage to the theme to Mission Impossible.

But before I let this go, check out this paragraph:
Yet after Colbert made waves -- he compared the Bush administration to the Hindenburg disaster, among other things -- some wondered whether choosing Little indicated that the rough, tough White House press corps was going soft, ensuring that its honored guests from the White House would suffer not even the slightest slight.
Italics added. Some, huh? Like who? That's fine reporting. Perhaps I should file this under That's Not Funny!

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nancy,

I'm in my late 40's but remember Rich Little. I for one am glad to see him doing this gig because I tire from the Colbert's and other's 'edgy' style and push it to the edge snarkiness. I understand the Press Corp dinner is of course unique in not only its presentation but guest of honor roast, so to speak. But is it so awful to have someone actually be humorous and spot-on without being rude, or belittling, or angry?

Dana

12:11 PM  
Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

I guess I'm old, too. I also remember Rich Little's impressions of Nixon and Reagan.

Little's a far better choice to host the White House Press Corps dinner than Colbert, Stewart, or Bill Maher. I can't stand any of those smarmy, pseudo-intellectual twits!

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Luther said...

I remember Rich Little but not these specific skits you guys are referring to. It will be interesting to see what he does at this function. This is reminding me a bit of them hiring Paul McCartney to do the Super Bowl half time after the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake debacle. Personally I thought Paul did great – but my understanding is that most polled said it was “boring”.

I don’t really agree with the smarmy, pseudo-intellectual twits comment. I don’t think any of these men use “big words” and such or claim to be “intellectuals”. Stewart definitely never comes across this way to me and seems very centrist and pragmatic. The whole persona of Colbert’s character is that of an anti-intellectual who makes all decisions on emotion and gut feel. From the couple of interviews I’ve seen with him he is actually a very religious man and seems quite intelligent. I’m not real familiar with Bill Maher but he probably comes across a bit snobby.

As to last years roast – I thought most of Colbert’s act was quite funny. But the tape at the end featuring Helen Thomas was for me very lame so the act ended with a 5 minute dud.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Oh, I think they're style is I'm definitely smarter than you and that's what irks people. I used to like Jon Stewart loads! Hard not to, until he started slammin' my man in office, and I think (though I can't remember any specific sketches) he was a bit unfair to him. So mostly, it's my political bias getting in the way of what's funny and what's not.

Colbert's gotta different gig, styled mostly on Bill O'Reilly, which is funny, though I think if I'd been in Colbert's position, I would have eased up (just a bit) at the WHPCA dinner.

On a personal level, I'm very interested in testing myself come the next administration--will I laugh at unfair jokes if it jives with my political feelings/leanings? I hope not, but it's a human failing and I'm a member of the human race, thus subject to its failings.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Luther said...

Well I think everyone is that way to some degree - satire is funny except for something they feel passionate about. For example Isaac Hayes defended South Park when it made fun of every religion (and atheists) except his - but then when they did an episode making fun of Scientology he quit the show in disgust and said they just shouldn't cross lines like that. Funny - for years he didn't feel that way.

As to your man Bush - personally I feel he deserves most, but not all, of the criticsm he receives. We share similar views on so many things but we definitely do not see eye-to-eye on Bush. John Stewart has brutally slammed plenty of Democrats - but I haven't been watching the show that much lately to see how he is responding to the Dems now that that are back in power in the House and Senate. He obviously leans left - but I do think he is more of a centrist than anything else.

Not that this means anything bad because we are all this way - but my guess is you will and do laugh at unfair jokes when you aren't emotionally attached to the subject or person. For some reason you seem to be very emotionally attached and protective of Bush.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I think that's pretty fair. But to be slightly more accurate-- I am emotionally attached to and protective of this war. I think a lot is riding on it. And most cracks at Bush (it seems) are a result of the war. He can be criticized a lot for it, I agree.

I also am emotionally attached to and protective of being against the fashion of putting down Republicans and Republican presidents, which is a big part of TV and movies, cocktail parties, etc.

The war seems to have gotten so bad and so out of control--I have a few ideas on it, but I'm keeping it to myself lately because I have so little control and I have such little knowledge of military tactics and strategy.

I imagine we will lose this war, not because we can't win it, but because the American people aren't interested in winning it, and I submit myself to the will of the American people.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Luther said...

Well it’s not limited to Republican presidents. I guess the first president I really remember as a child was Nixon. I can remember every president starting with him (yes I know he was Republican - but he would never make it in today’s Republican party) being made fun of and ridiculed.

Will we win the war? I guess that remains to be seen and will depend on how you define victory - but to me the tactics and policies implemented by this administration are at minimum major factors for the difficulties and failures we have suffered thus far - not the American people, and not the MSM. Would I absolutely love to see a democratic and westernized Iraq - yes!!! Was that a realistic goal - probably not. Am I emotionally attached to the war effort – yes. Should this administration be commended, honored and defended for poor planning and execution – no - at least not in my opinion.

9:12 PM  

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