About the blogger: Amy Bree Becker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies at Towson University. Her research considers the impact of political comedy and political entertainment on everyday life. She also studies public opinion and participation on controversial political issues like the same-sex marriage debate.
Professor Becker will share her top 5 political comedy picks each month.
Top 5 Political Comedy Highlights from August 2011
- The Daily Show correspondents preview the candidate tents at the Iowa Straw Poll
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The Daily Show correspondents – Samantha Bee, Wyatt Cenac, Aasif Mandvi, and John Oliver -- offer an entertaining preview of the candidate tents at the Iowa Straw Poll on the August 11th broadcast. The segment focuses on all of the “attractions” being offered at the various candidate tents and the arrival of Sarah Palin’s bus tour. The best part of the segment -- which should be especially hilarious for those familiar with Rick Santorum’s Google problem (Google “Rick Santorum” and you get this site as the top result) – is Wyatt Cenac’s visit to Santorum headquarters and his consumption of the Pennsylvania senator’s homemade peach jelly. Apparently, among other things, it’s sugar free and doesn’t taste very good. Throughout the month of August, The Daily Show correspondents did a great job of keeping us up-to-date on events in Iowa and around the country. For more on The Daily Show correspondents see item #3 in this month’s list.
2. The heroes of Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC respond
Stephen Colbert has received some serious media attention for his Colbert Super PAC with many media outlets questioning the true political impact of Colbert’s fundraising and television advertising efforts. The Super PAC can accept unlimited donations from supporters, and Colbert is free to promote his Super PAC as often as he likes during his half-hour time slot on Comedy Central, a Viacom media property. To date, more than 165,000 fans of the show have signed up as members of the Colbert Super PAC, and a good portion have given donations in support of the group’s attempt at “Making a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.” During recent broadcasts, the names of these 165,000 fans have been scrolling across the bottom of the television screen – Colbert’s “scroll of heroes.” As Colbert pointed out on the August 4th broadcast, some of the names – including the all too funny “Suq Madiq” – are made-up. Colbert has a hard time getting through the segment once he mentions Suq’s parents “Liqa Madiq” and “Munchma Quchi.” Colbert’s giggles make the clip especially comical, and that’s why I’ve listed it in my Top 5 for August. Frequent viewers of the show will note his repeated recycling of the “Munchma Quchi” joke in subsequent August broadcasts.
3. John Oliver’s “The Forecloser”
Speaking of The Daily Show correspondents, John Oliver’s August 8th segment on the Florida couple that foreclosed on a local Bank of America branch is truly a top segment from the month of August. The couple featured in the segment received a foreclosure notice from Bank of America in error. In reality, the couple paid for their Naples, FL house in cash so there was no mortgage with Bank of America. Since Bank of America failed to pay the damages owed to the couple according to the legal settlement, the couple sent a couple of repo men to pick up the furniture at a local branch. John Oliver’s enthusiasm for the story and his whirlwind tour of the US to spread the story helps to make the clip especially funny. Oliver’s movie promo at the end ties the whole bit together nicely.
4. Vote for Rick Parry, with an A for Iowa and America
Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC chose to endorse Rick Parry, not Rick Perry, as a write-in candidate for the Iowa Straw poll. To support this endorsement, the Colbert Super PAC bought airtime on local Iowa affiliates in order to show two television commercials. Colbert aired the commercials on the August 11th broadcast of The Colbert Report for a national audience and clips of the individual commercials quickly spread virally. Both commercials are funny, but the second commercial and the focus on “cornography” is particularly humorous, making the package a top pick for August 2011. The ads and the subsequent coverage afforded by the mainstream media show the broader impact of these satirical ads and the importance of keeping an eye on the activities of Colbert Super PAC as the presidential race continues to unfold. Unfortunately, a count of those who wrote in Rick Parry on their Iowa straw poll ballot is not yet available.
5. Glazed and Confused, Jon Stewart’s take on the Michele Bachmann Newsweek cover
Journalists spent the first part of the month talking about Newsweek’s “deer in the headlights” unflattering photo cover of Michele Bachmann. Jon Stewart also took up the issue of the cover on his August 9th broadcast, suggesting that a better way to display “crazy Michele Bachmann” is to simply make a cover image out of her words. The clip was particularly humorous and has reached a broad online audience with more than 325,000 views to date. Also relevant is Stewart’s reprobation of Newsweek editor Tina Brown and his concession that perhaps this time the conservative media has a real legitimate complaint about the way the mainstream media covers conservative candidates and issues. This clip makes the best of August list because it combines satirical political commentary with Stewart’s pointed criticism of both mainstream and conservative media outlets.
Even though Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were on vacation for the last part of August, both hosts offered some truly enjoyable material at the start of the month. As predicted in my July post, Colbert’s Super PAC kicked into high gear this month and both shows paid careful attention to the presidential election.
For even more on political comedy, check out my past media commentary on the importance of political comedy or stay up-to-date with the latest in politics and new media on my blog, Fresh Politics, New Media.