Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Frayed Nerves | Arianna Does the Correspondent's Dud Affair

Arianna attended the DC zombies correspondents dinner, listened to the ancient jokes of Rich Little and survived:

Frayed Nerves, Excruciating Punchlines, and Sanjaya: My Night at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

You could sense an edginess among the administration figures in the room (waiting for the next round of subpoenas can have that effect). So the jovial MC Rove of just a few weeks ago was replaced by the Bellicose Boy Genius who took a gentle touch from the beguiling Sheryl Crow as the equivalent of a glove slapped across his face. Hurled invectives from 20 paces at dawn!!

News of the dustup between Rove, Sheryl, and Laurie David quickly traveled around the room. When I went over to their table to find out exactly what had happened, I was proud to see the two of them huddled together, scribbling their blog about the incident on the back of a menu, with Larry King looking on.

Back to the surrealism: it would be hard to match the absurdity of listening to President Bush explain that in deference to the shootings at Virginia Tech he would forgo telling any jokes: "In light of this tragedy at Virginia Tech, I decided not to be funny." Okay. I get that. But it raises the question: why did he have no problem cutting up last year or the year before or the year before that as the body count of dead American soldiers and Iraqi civilians continued to rise? Is there some sort of comedy rule I don't know about? So it's comedically acceptable to goof around, pretending to look for WMD under your desk while the troops put in harm's way in the name of those WMD are killed and mutilated but not in good taste to deliver a monologue in the aftermath of a tragic school shooting? Who knew?

Or maybe the president just didn't want to upstage Little, who turned out to be irritatingly bad rather than soothingly bland as intended.

Look, I have nothing against Rich Little. He's a perfectly fine entertainer, if your idea of entertainment is impersonations of Dwight Eisenhower and Telly Savalas (is there anyone still alive who would know the difference between a good Eisenhower impersonation and a bad one?) or jokes about hemorrhoids.

And, full disclosure, I didn't watch his entire performance. It was so painful, at a certain point I ducked out. But from what I saw, Little delivered exactly what the White House Correspondents' Association wanted (give or take a groaner or ten). People remember Colbert's performance last year for his skewering of the president but, in fact, he also brilliantly and brutally skewered the media for their complicity in the outrages of the last six years.

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