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Friday, January 23, 2009


Most political comedy does nothing for me. Not because I'm apolitical, but because it's usually so strident, so pushy, so... elitist. Like they know better than everyone else. Usually I agree completely with the comic's views, but I'm not interested in hearing my own views screamed back at me unless there's some level of wit and a different take on it. I think the problem is that some comics (Margaret Cho and Bill Maher come immediately to mind, but there are lots more) feel too strongly about the subject so they lose any distance. They care too much.

The Daily Show, in my opinion, goes about it perfectly. They aren't against trumpeting their viewpoints but are at least more nuanced and often take the opposite viewpoint so as to hold it up to ridicule rather than just bashing the opposite viewpoint. Of course, the outcome is the same either way. I just think the satirical route is the way to go.

Ian Boothby over at the Comedy Couch forum recently posted this great video of one of my favourite political comics, A. Whitney Brown. I used to watch Brown on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show back in the day. He was different. Dry. You had to listen to his words because nothing else about him smelled of funny. But he was. Very much so. Then he got a writing gig on Saturday Night Live, which also let him do commentaries on Weekend Update every so often. It was great stuff. He wrote a book called The Big Picture, which I read at the time but can't find anywhere now. And then he was one of the correspondents on The Daily Show back when it was hosted by Craig Kilborn. But we didn't get that up here, unfortunately. I love his take on supporting the troops. He goes about it backwards and is just as skewering as any of those more obvious comics. And I love that he doesn't have a delivery that says, "Here's the punchline! It's coming right up!" You actually have to listen.

Brown doesn't have much of a web presence but you can find a few things. Here are two you'll enjoy. The first is called "I Support the Troops" and the second is a stand-up set he did in Winnipeg a few years ago on the subject of atheism.

I wish we could see or read more of him.

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