Funny people are bitter
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Funny people are bitter

Bitterness is an almost universal trait among funny people. They hate it when their friends become successful. They grow positively apoplectic when success comes to someone they consider unworthy. The bigger the success, the bigger the resentment and Leno has attained a level of fame most comics can only dream about. Even more unforgivably, that success came at the expense of more worthy souls: first Letterman and now O’Brien.

Nathan Rabin in Why Some Comics Aren’t Laughing at Jay Leno Essay.

Toward earnestness
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Toward earnestness

Roger Ebert takes a stand against snark:

Snarking is cultural vandalism. I have arrived at this conclusion belatedly. I have been guilty of snarking, and of enjoying snarks. In the matter of snarking, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But it has grown entirely out of hand. It is time to put away childish things. I must restore my balance, view the world in a fair way, hope to inspire more appreciation than ridicule. No doubt there will always be a role for snarking, given the proper target and an appropriate venue, and I reserve the right to snark when it is deserved, as in certain movie reviews. But in general I must become more well-behaved.

I see snark as dismissing people or things on the basis of style rather than engaging on matters of substance, and I’m just as guilty of it as anyone. Last night’s speech by Bobby Jindal is a perfect example. The instant reaction on the Internet was that it was the “Kenneth the Page” speech (referring to the character on 30 Rock). But the atrociousness of the delivery aside, the text of the speech was even worse. And it’s more important to confront that than it is to dismiss Jindal for giving a bad speech.

Ebert’s post on snark comes on the heels of John Hodgman’s attack on “meh” on Twitter. I think Hodgman would say that “meh” is for people too lazy to snark.

I wonder if the seriousness of the times are leading to a rejection of the flip and dismissive. It could also be that a new President sets a new tone. Barack Obama is consistently earnest, and I wonder whether he’s leading people to generally take things more seriously. I’ll be interested to see whether this trend expands.

John McCain and Rick Warren, distilled
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John McCain and Rick Warren, distilled

Unlike me, you probably didn’t sit through John McCain’s hour with Rick Warren at the Saddleback Civil Forum last night. Here’s their conversation, distilled.

Pastor Rick Warren: Who are three wisest people you’d rely on for advice if you are elected?

John McCain: David Petraeus, who is the greatest American in history besides me, John Lewis, and Meg Whitman.

RW: What’s your greatest moral failure and America’s greatest moral failure?

JM: The end of my first marriage. For America, the fact that not everyone enlists in the military.

RW: Give me an example of a time when you put your country ahead of your party and yourself, politically?

JM: I believe some people may not have heard my old “never been elected Miss Congeniality in the Senate” joke. Also, I love Ronald Reagan.

RW: What’s the most significant thing you’ve changed your mind about in the past ten years?

JM: We need to start drilling for oil right here, right now.

RW: What’s the most gut wrenching decision you ever had to make, and what was your process?

JM: I was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

RW: What does your Christianity mean to you on a daily basis?

JM: I was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

RW: At what point is a baby entitled to human rights?

JM: You evangelicals can count on me to try to outlaw abortion.

RW: Define marriage.

JM: No gays allowed.

RW: Do you support Prop 8 in California?

JM: Of course. That’s what I’m supposed to say, right?

RW: Are you against embryonic stem cell research?

JM: I’m for embryonic stem cell research, but hopefully science will get me off the hook on this one.

RW: What do we do about evil?

JM: Evil = al Qaeda = Iraq = we’re winning the war and we can’t quit now.

RW: Which of the current Supreme Court justices would you not have nominated?

JM: Breyer. Souter. Stevens. Ginsberg. The evil ones.

RW: Should it be OK for faith based organizations to accept federal money and then use it to hire only people who share their religious beliefs?

JM: Of course.

RW: Should there be a merit pay system for teachers?

JM: Only until we privatize all their jobs.

RW: Define rich.

JM: Rich as in money or rich as in spirit? I hate taxes.

RW: What’s more important, individual privacy or national security?

JM: We need to all work together to agree that it’s OK for the government to spy on Americans constantly.

RW: What is worth Americans dying for?

JM: I’m proud to be an American.

RW: What are the criteria for the US committing troops?

JM: If I gave an honest answer to this question, you guys would totally freak out.

RW: What’s happening in Georgia right now?

JM: The new cold war is on like Donkey Kong. All my friends are calling Russia the Russian empire now.

RW: What would you do to stop religious persecution of all kinds?

JM: Ronald Reagan was awesome.

RW: I feel sorry for orphans. Would you support spending money to subsidize the adoption of more of the world’s orphans?

JM: My wife once adopted a child without telling me.

RW: Why do you want to be President?

JM: Don’t you watch my TV ads?

The complete transcript is here.

The investigative humorist
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The investigative humorist

How does The Daily Show find all of those amazing clips of politicians saying stupid and contradictory thing? By tapping into the mind of one guy who has been with the show since the beginning. The Washington Post profiles Adam Chodikoff, the video producer for the show. It’s amazing what he does, when you think about it.