I Wish It Would Rain Down
Last night, in the middle of otherwise peaceful slumber, I awoke to pouring rain and thunder.
Not that such sounds are novel to me … it’s just that my life has lacked these things for several months. Here in the mid-Atlantic region, we are suffering from a severe drought.
So when this rare event occurred, I fell into a half-awake, half-asleep state and captured the essence of something that’s been troubling me for months. I finally was able to encapsulate the growing realization that’s been eating at me.
The Daily Show has lost its mojo.
This pains me more than most of you can imagine. My admiration, respect, and love for the half-hour parody news broadcast on Comedy Central has been a steady presence for years, since Craig Kilborn hosted. It’s difficult for me to admit that these feelings have faded.
These feelings have faded.
Perhaps it started when one of the show’s best correspondents/writers, Stephen Colbert, left two years ago to start his own show. Otherwise, I’m ignorant about the writing cadre of the show now compared to 2005, but the direction hasn’t been positive.
At least 90% of an episode now consists of two things.
First, Jon Stewart’s show now depends mostly on rather witless shots at Bush, Cheney, Rove, and a few other executive branch figures.
I’m a big fan of political satire, so clever jabs at our leaders give me no heartburn whatsoever. I think we need more intelligent swipes at all authority figures. But recently, trained monkeys could have crafted and delivered most of the show’s “jokes,” which rely on weak impersonations and stale exaggerations.
It doesn’t take a genius to make fun of this (or any) administration. Events and policies to mock are low-hanging fruit. It does take skilled comedic writing, however, to make that lampooning good. And The Daily Show is failing.
Second, Stewart has gone dirty—he now gets more bleeps per minute than Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Combined.
I like well-placed cursing. In fact, I love it. Authors like Chuck Klosterman use expletives naturally, and the aforementioned Colbert drops four-letter treats once in a while to great effect. Relying on profanity for laughs, on the other hand, is a downward spiral that one only enters once ideas dry up.
And it seems the mid-Atlantic drought has reached The Daily Show’s writers.