Colbert Candidacy: Put-On Perfected

The GOP debates could make a profit on Pay TV if they let Stephen Colbert join the panel. How much would it be worth to see him match wits with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry?

Sadly, like his other ventures, Colbert’s South Carolina candidacy is only fodder for his reality-blurring show, the perfection of a trend that began to emerge in the 1960s when TV made American life too complicated for Bob Hope-Milton Berle one-liners.

Rough sketches for the persona Colbert now presents were subjects back then for New Yorker critics such as Susan Sontag (“Notes on Camp”) and Jacob Brackman in “The Put-On” to define a slippery comedy in which the audience is in the know as a figure feigns utter seriousness while subverting a subject’s defenses.

Brackman could have been describing today’s Colbert in parsing the put-on as “it disorients the interviewee, ridicules the interview process, communicates ‘real’ ideas and feelings yet deflates the seriousness of questions and replies.”

Only clueless Al Gore has breached this implicit agreement by referring to “your character” during an interview, shocking Colbert into a “My character?” reaction.

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Author: ROBERT STEIN

  • http://ironmikehouston.blogspot.com/ IronMikeHouston

    Well I don’t watch Stephen Colbert (or the show he is on). I also don’t watch republican debates (or democratic debates). I’m not sure what impact debates actually have in choosing a competent leader. Rarely do the candidates speak their beliefs. They say what their handlers tell them to say.

    Anyway the personalities that ask the questions have become a distraction. Why don’t the candidates ask each other questions?

  • The_Ohioan

    Absolutely wonderful article about Colbert. Thank you.

  • ShannonLeee

    Colbert is demonstrating the insanity of SuperPacs. He and Stewart are doing a great job.

  • ChiRon

    @IronMike – It’s a pity you don’t watch The Colbert Show. You are missing some of the most intelligent political satire of at least the past 50 years.

  • slamfu

    Colbert really is pretty damn spot on. Him and Stewart do twice the job of political reporting that the CNN, MSNBC or FOX do. And really all they do is pull the topic from one of those shows and then do another 15 min of research to point out the absurdities behind what is being reported. Its brilliant.

  • Brewhouse Jack

    Just cheap stuff taking advantage of cheap people