Playing Dick Smothers
Stephen Colbert was very funny, and the show an enjoyable bit of very different television. After reading various bits of bio –the youngest of 11 kids, Catholic schools, loves Lord of the Rings— I suspected he really is more conservative than most comedians. I had also watched enough imnterviews to realize the worst approach is to try and be funny.
I have interviewed comics in the past –Harry Shearer, Tracey Ullman–and I found them much more challenging than the average political/public policy /entertainment/sports figure because they are driven to go for the laugh, so all questions are merely set-ups. The reverse was true last night, when the answers were just that, set-ups. Book promotion in exchange for playing Dick Smothers, with some fun thrown in.
My guests from NYU loved it –the demographics on that show’s audience must have certain advertisers salivating– and I hope they work bloggers into the rotation. My chum Lileks would be an excellent place to start, but Kos would also make for some very interesting television.
Norman Ornstein was also on the program, and we had a chance to talk while waiting for the taping to begin. Ornstein is one of the original “talking heads,” and as close to the official voices of the D.C. permanent center-left as one can get, as well as a very pleasant fellow. (He was also the first repeat guest in Colbert Report history.)
Ornstein’s got a new book coming out, co-authored with Thomas Mann –another fine guy– The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track. I’m not sure we’ll agree on the culprits behind the brokenness, but the refusal to deal with Social Security, the extravagent assaults on judicial nominees, and the endless posturing by folks like Senator Schumer and Senator Hagel are all evidences for his premise. I’ll wait to read the book before commenting on his cures.