Picking up from an earlier post:
One of the lessons my late father taught me was about the place, and purpose, of humor. His philosophy was that given how many situations in life are desperately unfunny, whenever the opportunity for humor arises, seize it. Which he did; I can still hear the sound of his laughter roaring through the house, be it at a television show or a book he was reading, often to my mother’s chagrin as she preferred a more discrete decorum. Although, in her defense, she could be pretty darn punny herself.
As he said, and as Regina Spektor beautifully sang, there are times in life when neither it nor God are funny:
Not that this doesn’t stop some people from trying to make everything a joke. It’s all they can do. They’re too uninventive to break free from their shtick.
Case in point would be one David Javerbaum, he of the self-celebratory New York City crowd (“oooh, he used to write for Jon Stewart!“) currently promoting his new book which is a memoir by God. Because nothing beats God humor for pretending to be edgy; never mind it’s as tired as it comes.
Most comedy relies on some form of shtick, the trick being whether the audience finds it funny. Some do, some don’t. I know people who declare The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension to be the funniest movie mankind has ever seen, whereas the one time I watched it left me utterly unmoved until ten minutes before the end when I muttered, “Oh, this is supposed to be satire, isn’t it.” At which, to me, it was a complete failure. And nothing in comedy is worse than failed satire.
Said all that to say this. If you can have shtick comedy, can you also have shtick politics?
By shtick politics I’m referring more to pundits who cover it than politics or politicians themselves, although many of those involved are quite clichéd in word and deed. They can be dealt with later. For now, let’s talk about the talking heads (no, not David Byrne and company. Never did like that band. But I digress).
Shtick isn’t limited to humor. There’s plenty of room for humor when discussing politics. Mark Steyn is a prime example of genuine inventive comedic ability. Where things fall into shtick is when an overriding one-size-fits-all theme emerges in a pundit’s work, one that throttles all authentic insight and commentary.
It can be safely argued that a reliance on shtick indicates there is no genuine insight and commentary, but shtick itself does not indicate this. Case in point would be Rush Limbaugh’s well-honed self-mocking pompous act. You know he’s kidding. He knows he’s kidding. But it does it anyway, because it’s part of his on-air persona. It’s the lesser lights who regurgitate whatever a Limbaugh, Steyn or Mark Levin say as though they are genuinely adding to the discourse that are the true purveyors of shtick.
Politics isn’t a game, and neither is political commentary. Yet so many make it a game in which the sole object isn’t winning over hearts and minds, but rather who can grab the biggest piece of the pie everyone else is attempting to claim as their own.
- Don’t You Dare Doubt My Political Creds – I Post Twenty Times A Day: Volume rules!
- Macha Chica: I have buns n’ poses… er, guns n’ roses! Plus tattoos and, when convenient, married with children. But don’t worry. I’m a Bible-believing husband-submitting Christian. Or a good girl. Or something.
- I’m Big On Twitter: How could I be anything but an expert when I have all these followers?
- How Can You Possibly Believe You’re Right When I Just Gave You A #Headdesk: You’re so not worth talking with about anything, I’m not going to bother defending anything I say. Oh, and if you don’t like it? Don’t follow me!
There are more, but you get the idea.
All of the above have one unified cry: Why aren’t people listening to me?
Um… because you’re not saying anything that hasn’t already been said, and better?
It’s almost comical. The only problem is, no one is laughing.
PS: Speaking of laughing…