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February 15, 2007

I Still Giggle Over This

Dated, but I liked this Apprentice parody I did, with The Donald grilling prominent Democrats about who should be fired for losing "the task" of winning the 2004 election.

What I realized in writing this was that there were a couple of parts to a sketch. The premise -- obviously, you need that. You need a basic framework, an idea, that the jokes flow from.

But just as important as the premise is what I think of as "the tweak" -- the random, unexpected gag. The premise is crucial, but most of the jokes that flow from it are pretty obvious. It's the stuff that comes from the tweak that produces genuine surprises. And in this Trump parodies, it was always the tweak stuff that I had the most fun with, that actually had me laughing.

I've shelved a lot of premises because I couldn't think of a decent tweak to them to balance out the obvious stuff with some unexpected gags.

Anyway, my problem with this FoxNews show is that there's no tweak I see in any of the cuts. The premise? Well, it's conservatives delivering liberal-bashing gags. The tweak? Non-existent. The targets are obvious; so are the means of bashing them. Nowhere along the way is there something that isn't as thuddingly expected and repetitive as a jackhammer tearing up the street under your windown at 6:30 AM.

Anyway, sorry to be all Professor of Comedy on you guys, as Howard Stern used to call Chevy Chase's pontifications about humor.

No Tweak Here: This James Bond parody is okay. I wrote it the day after the 7/7 London Bombings, and I guess my primary interest was making a point, not making laughs.

Still, there's no tweak in this, and the jokes pretty much proceed predictably from the premise. I like some of the jokes, but there's really nothing surprising in the bit. If anyone else had the premise, they would have written a very similar sketch -- because it's all implicit from the premise.

There's just nothing unexpected that I can point to and say, "There, that's just a random bit of humor that is wholly independent from the premise" that would differentiate my version of the Bond spoof from anyone else's.


Another Trump Parody: Still funny in parts, but here you see the problem with trying to basically re-write a sketch according to an old formula.


Freepers Hate New Fox "Comedy" Show: I had expected them to like it more, because, well, a lot of the stuff commenters claimed was hilarious wasn't really all that funny. Like Dennis Miller appearances on Leno -- often amusing, kind of witty, but usually not hilarious. Overstating the humor value of a bit just because it was right-leaning.

So I figured they'd be more charitable about the new Fox show than others.

Boy, was I wrong. They hate it. And they also seem to find FoxNews increasingly... embarassing. Mostly they're bothered by the celebrity fluffiness of the channel lately.

I think FoxNews might have hit the period of "hubris" and "decadence" in the rise-and-fall trajectory. Which would be a shame, because damn, I really used to be a huge fan.

And they could get me back, too, if they laid off the embarassingly pandering right-wing red-meat stuff. Yes, I want to be pandered to, as anyone does. I just don't want it to be so obvious that I feel dirty about it all.

And they could maybe focus more on actual news and less on crap like Anna Nicole Smith's death. Isn't that what Greta is for? Isn't an hour a day enough for in-depth coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's preliminary inquest?

Anyway, back to this show. I'm now trying to fight the opinion that seems to be gripping everyone that the show is hiddeously bad, though I was an early adopter of that position myself.

The show is bad, but there's a snowball effect going on where the show has gone from merely amateurish and hack to a blasphemous affront to the laws of God and man. I'm serious: It sucks, but it only sucks about 30% more than Jon Stewart. And I feel kind of bad about being part of an Internet mob that's now pretty much smashing down Joel Surnow's doors waving pitchforks and torches and screaming "The Abomination must die!"

At any rate, this has got to be one of the most disasterous attempts at generating Internet buzz in quite a while. The show has gone from being tepidly anticipated to being blamed for Old Yeller's rabies. He got that from a wolf, you know. None of the writers of this show were anywhere near him.

Two benefits, though: 1, lowered expections (like, subterraneanly lowered), and 2, big ratings for the deput. This is now appointment-viewing, because so many are anticipating the Superbowl of Vile.

But: Is a show that is obviously doomed to failure worth tarnishing FoxNews' reputation further?

Not only is this an obviously, unabashedly rightwing show (belying FoxNews' fair and balanced motto), not only is it an (alleged) entertainment show (belying the claim that FoxNews is, well, a news channel), but it's laughably inept -- piercing the we-can't-do-any-wrong-even-if-we-try-to-screw-up aura of success FoxNews has enjoyed for six or seven years now.

Is it worth it? Is one weekly comedy show, airing for a half hour, worth the potential damage to the brand as a whole?


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posted by Ace at 01:13 AM

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