Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cargo cult comedy

At last, the long-awaited Daily Show rip-off has arrived on Fox News. Produced by 24 producer Joel Surnow, The 1/2 Hour News Hour runs with the tagline: "Unfair. Unbalanced. Unserious."

Apparently they should have added "Unfunny" as well. The kindest review I've seen so far comes from the Washington Post, which declares:

"In a nutshell: It isn't terrible."

Wow, high praise. Other than that, reaction seems to be universally bad, even from right wing blogs like this one:

"It is SO not funny. And it should have been hysterical. There are so many brilliant, funny conservatives. How did they pick this bunch?"

And this one:

"Finally, while there is work to be done to make the show 'workable', the initial offerings or 'taste tests' have left a very sour taste in my mouth as well I'm sure many others. If I were the head of FOXNews I would strongly consider pulling the show and working out some of the kinks before launching a show that appears to be an amateur offering."

Here's a bit of fun pigpiling from the left side...

Not surprisingly, the second biggest (fake?) laughter of the show came in reaction to the title of a spoof magazine called BO: Barack Obama Magazine. I just snarfed, because B.O. is too funny. Here's a perfect example of how Republicans don't understand satire. If Senator Obama was known to have body odor, then the joke would've been funnier. But to my knowledge, he doesn't. Then again, he is a black and they're usually all stinky and black-smelling, aren't they? Seriously, it's a terrible joke.

So why use it? Because body odor is funny. If you're six or, evidently, a Republican.

Here's a clip for you:

When I first saw this, my immediate thought was "They're doing cargo cult comedy."

A refresher on cargo cults, as told by Wikipedia:

The classic period of cargo cult activity was in the years during and after World War II. The vast amounts of war matériel that were airdropped into these islands during the Pacific campaign against the Empire of Japan necessarily meant drastic changes to the lifestyle of the islanders, many of whom had never seen Westerners or Japanese before. Manufactured clothing, medicine, canned food, tents, weapons and other useful goods arrived in vast quantities to equip soldiers — and also the islanders who were their guides and hosts. With the end of the war the airbases were abandoned, and "cargo" was no longer being dropped.

In attempts to get cargo to fall by parachute or land in planes or ships again, islanders imitated the same practices they had seen the soldiers, sailors and airmen use. They carved headphones from wood, and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses. The cultists thought that the foreigners had some special connection to their own ancestors, who were the only beings powerful enough to produce such riches.

Like a cargo cult, Fox News is imitating the form that produces results, and they hope that the results will naturally follow. The show LOOKS very much like The Daily Show, the hosts use the same style of wry smarminess that works so well for Jon Stewart, and there is laughter. But there aren't any jokes, just sarcasm.


  1. Tom Wood9:07 AM

    That was basically Republican talking points with a laugh track. Do they think we are all retarded?

  2. Their intended audience certainly is.