With the nonsense going down in American politics, it makes me feel better to know that Stephen Colbert is around.
Left wing satire and comedy is really carrying the torch for political discourse lately. I think Jon Stewart started it, but Colbert and John Oliver are definitely keeping it going. You do notice, don’t you, that reality has a liberal slant?
I dislike conservatives in general, as I’ve said before, and partly I think it’s due to conservative comedy just… not being all that funny. At least, such humor is not funny to me. I find many comedians labelled conservative, or right-wing, commit the worst of comedy sins by “punching down”; they make fun of the vulnerable, the weak, the powerless.
Punching down is most often done in a way that hurts people who can’t take the hurt.
For example: making jokes about trans women being men in drag hurts trans women. It denies their identity, their humanity. It contributes to the social climate that results in trans women being murdered or committing suicide at phenomenal rates. And for what? For the sake of a few laughs? As the US population leans more and more to the left, you don’t really have to wonder why this kind of mean-spirited comedy isn’t as popular.
Colbert and Oliver, and Stewart when he was on the Daily Show, are almost constantly punching up. They make fun of the powerful, poke holes in their carefully constructed PR spin. They’re excellent satirists who use comedy as a tool of political enlightenment.
Alison Dagnes posited that there are few conservative satirists because conservatism is focused on maintaining the status quo and supporting those in power, whereas the best comedy is that which reveals the absurdity of the status quo and the powerful. I think she’s right.