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EDITORIAL: Late night laughter- best medicine for ills of politics

Late night comedy is essential for successful democracy

Stephen Colbert interviews Tom Hanks on an episode of CBS's The Late Show. Late Night Comedy has proven that no member of America's political landscape is exempt from the power of late night comedy.

Image courtesy of CBS. http://www.cbs.com/shows/the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert/

Stephen Colbert interviews Tom Hanks on an episode of CBS's The Late Show. Late Night Comedy has proven that no member of America's political landscape is exempt from the power of late night comedy.

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My life runs on late night comedy. That doesn’t mean I forgo sleep to watch in real time; don’t be absurd. That’s why we have DVR. I eat satire for breakfast, drink jazz, and breathe politics.

Occasionally, my thoughts materialize in Stephen Colbert’s voice.

But that doesn’t mean the glittery New York studios aren’t brimming with controversy. Many people crusade against satire on the grounds that it is too politically pointed and one-sided. My response? Exactly.

Satire exists to offer a respite from our socio-political landscape while simultaneously sending a message to people in power: you can do better, you should do better, and until you do better, we will mock you incessantly.

you can do better, you should do better, and until you do better, we will mock you incessantly.”

In simpler terms, it’s journalism plus humor plus peer pressure. And it works!

Remember Trumpcare, the healthcare bill that never passed?  One of its most visible enemies was television host Jimmy Kimmel, who used his platform to altruistically advocate for the healthcare of disabled children. Kimmel tearfully reflected on his younger son, who was born with a heart defect that required extensive treatment. Families of children with similar disabilities, he argued, would not be able to afford the same level of care if the bill was passed.

“No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save a child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here,” stated Kimmel.

The bill was struck down by one vote.

On a slightly funnier note, cathartic political tirades have come to be expected from Stephen Colbert, one of the highest-rated late night hosts (contrary to what the President insists). Cobert’s stardom rose during the primaries, when he rescued his show from oblivion by launching blistering satire at then-candidate Donald Trump. About a year later, Colbert’s show has adapted to take aim at the Trump administration’s most volatile policies while providing a space for audiences to relax and listen to the words they wish they could say.

Humor has long been one of the most effective tools, besides hard journalism, for holding powerful people accountable. The fact that freedom of speech is protected in the U.S. makes it easier for Americans to air their grievances on live TV, but not impossible elsewhere.

Bassem Youssef, a former doctor known as the “Egyptian Jon Stewart,” boldly lambasted the Egyptian government following the revolution of 2011. His show, Al Bernameg, ran for three years and garnered over two hundred million viewers before being shut down by the government. Youssef is now living in the United States, where he continues to advocate for freedom of speech and empowerment through dissent.

“People say, ‘Are you afraid? Are you scared for your life?’ And I tell them: If I choose today to tone it down, if I choose today to shut up, tomorrow you, me, and all of us will be forced to,” said Youssef in an interview with Jon Stewart.

The explosion of Youtube further elevates the platform of prominent late night hosts, creating an environment of comprehensive comedic immersion. Who among us hasn’t Googled the latest episode of Saturday Night Live?    Political satire is a gift from the gods of democracy, and it’s time to acknowledge that.  It’s easy to recover from a dry, pointed accusation, but a viral joke?

Corruption stands no chance.

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1 Comment

One Response to “EDITORIAL: Late night laughter- best medicine for ills of politics”

  1. Brandon Kennedy on December 12th, 2017 9:31 am

    Love it!

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EDITORIAL: Late night laughter- best medicine for ills of politics