The holy trinity of American political satire is crumbling. Now that Stephen Colbert has taken a new job as a legitimate talk-show host starting in September and Jon Stewart of The Daily Show has announced he’s ending his long-running show, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Real Time’s Bill Maher doesn’t get any weird ideas about following suit.
Many of us today look to political satire for the straight goods on how our politicians are monumentally screwing up. What should be an honourable profession as a politician has turned into a gang of self-serving pigs-at-the-trough that has the rest of us frustrated, angry and feeling helpless to do anything about it. Hence, the success of political satire. All we can do is hope that our elected officials are watching and that perhaps it pricks their conscience.
In Canada we have our brilliant and entertaining Rick Mercer along with the 22 Minutes gang. These east-coasters bring a special kind of humour to their observations and they’ve become an important voice for Canadian culture. I miss the fact that Mary Walsh isn’t as visible as when she was a regular on This Hour Has 22 Minutes but I know she’s watching everything from wherever she is with a raging indignation and challenging someone somewhere.
I love political satire. The Brits are brilliant at it; Canadians come second (thanks to our genius Maritimers) and Americans third (they don’t always get the concept of irony). Politicians are such easy targets; they never fail to perform to the lowest standard expected of them and they continue to dazzle us with their greed and stupidity. I know it’s not an easy job which always makes me wonder why we select stupid people to do it. All that’s required is good hair, generic good looks and the ability to baffle us with rhetoric. And for serving a mere six years in office, they are rewarded with hefty pensions for life, unlike the rest of us who fight to retain every nickel and dime of pension they deign to toss into our caps after a life-time of hard work.
My lament may not be as noble as Marvin Gaye’s Abraham, Martin and John but nonetheless I’m feeling incredibly bereft. We’re losing two good ones and without Stephen and Jon who’s going to give us the straight goods on the circus that is American politics. Assuming Bill Maher regularly reads my blog (doesn’t he?), perhaps my plea will be successful in discouraging him from stepping down. Mary Walsh, come out, come out wherever you are! And long live Rick Mercer. It’s getting lonely and we need more voices in the political asylum.
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