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Colbert Overload

Let me state up front that I think Stephen Colbert is a funny, funny person. I eagerly await the day that the Strangers With Candy movie actually gets shown at a theatre near me. His version of "This Week in God" on The Daily Show was very funny. Heck, if he ever actually published Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure, I would be first in line to read it.

However, I'm starting to feel like The Colbert Report is just too much Colbert. It's conceived as a parody of the personality-driven news show like The O'Reilly Factor. Well, actually it's pretty specifically Bill O'Reilly that Colbert is mocking, but the problem I have is that he's gone so far into the parody, he's come out on the other side. When he does a bit like "Who's Attacking Me Now?" the audience doesn't chuckle appreciatively at the way Colbert pretends to be an egotistic maniac making his news show all about himself; they howl for blood at the imagined slights he presents. The difference between Colbert's audience and, say, the people who listen to Rush Limbaugh, are pretty slight at this point.

Colbert uses all the same tricks as the people he's parodying -- if you pay careful attention to the opening credits, you'll note that when he's looking up at the camera, he's scowling, but when he's looking down, he's smiling. It is my half-baked theory that this conditions the viewer to want to see Colbert as an authority figure because, um, when he's higher up, he's smiling, which makes us feel better? Perhaps my theory would be better described as quarter-baked. Indeed, it may not even have made it into the oven yet.

Or consider the interview segment. Consider it now! Colbert is so in-character as a conservative blowhard that he frequently shouts down his liberal guests even though he theoretically brought them on the show because he agrees with them. Even though he's "just kidding" when he insists that his guests apologize for being mean to "Papa Bear" Bill O'Reilly (aside: why does Colbert call him that? Colbert hates bears!), he's still browbeating people exactly like O'Reilly does.

Another objection I have to the Report, and this is more in the nature of a general principle rather than something that actually keeps me from enjoying it, is that it's explicitly targeting conservatives (well, "FOX News commentators", anyway) for mockery. You get the occasional shot at liberals in the form of David Cross's faux-Olbermann (or faux-Franken, I guess) liberal radio host who has an alleged feud with Colbert, but that doesn't really do anything to the sense of one-sidedness that goes on.

Really, my problem might just be that I don't feel like watching a whole hour of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report four days a week. It gets tiring. Luckily, I've come up with a solution. You remember that interview segment you were considering? It's often kind of forgettable, isn't it? It's also the weakest part of The Daily Show. So I find that if I skip them both, along with the other segments I've gotten tired of (Okay, pretty much just "Better Know a District"), the time goes by much faster.

The ideal solution (for me) would be for Colbert to just do "The Word" as a regular Daily Show segment, but I expect that won't be happening. And I can't complain too much; the Report is still miles better than Tough Crowd or that Adam Carolla show ever was. Plus, if enough people watch Colbert's show, he might get a publisher to bring Tek Jansen to an adoring public.


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