….. In Feb 1960, Jack Paar walked off his Tonight Show because NBC censors deleted a joke he had told involving “a WC”. WC was a euphemism for water closet or toilet. Have we come quite a ways in 49 years or what! The Letterman v Palin controversy is more than words. It’s America 2009.
I liked Sarah Palin before most of you had ever heard of her. Every time she and her family are savaged by the Left and the mainstream media I like them even more. Other than the occasional Top Ten list, I’ve not thought Letterman “was funny” for many years. (My favorite Liberal comedian is Joe Biden.) Long before Sarah Palin dominated the hate parlours of the American Left. Sarah is #2 by the way. Rush Limbaugh is #1.
I admit upfront that I like Palin and don’t think Letterman is “funny” to give a point of reference to my opinion that David Letterman should receive no more or less “punishment” than Don Imus received for his Rutgers’ girls basketball line. Both entertainers represent mainstream media that use radio / TV airwaves and are under FCC regulations. IF Imus was in violation for his “off-the-cuff” remark, then Letterman certainly was equally so for his “scripted” remark. Imus’ remark was an adlib stream of consciousness quip ….. and Letterman’s was a totally scripted purposeful remark. Like a North Korean missle launch – this was no accident.
David Letterman is often described as “sardonic”. “Sardonic” is one of those words that most folks can’t define, like “erstwhile”. My “not thinking Letterman is funny” carries no more weight than the opinion of those who do think he is funny. But this is my website. Humor is a 100% subjective determination ….. like Thai food.
Its 2009. There are no standards of decency in TV or radio and certainly not on the Internet. From the days of Jack Paar’s water closet to today’s “anything goes” ….. how can you say “Letterman went too far”? Crossed what line? Like phone booths and Studebakers, someone came in the night and took “the line” away. Oh, you think there SHOULD “be a line”? Give 10 seconds of thought about (1) who is going to draw it, and where and (2) who is going to punish those who are deemed to have crossed “it”, and how. THEN, be VERY AFRAID.
The Letterman v Palin debate cannot go ten seconds without stating the cliché reality that YES there IS a double standard for Liberals vs Conservatives in mainstream media. Whether you feel Letterman should be shot or given a bonus for his remark ….. substitute Michelle Obama and her children for The Palin Family and apply whatever your views are. They have to be the same or you have just beheaded yourself with an Hypocrisy Ax. For those of you who have been hypocritically headless for some time this is an unnecessary exercise.
This double standard has existed for quite some time and will get considerably worse in the months / years to come. Deal with it. Rail against it. Gloat over it. Whatever. It is what it is.
Any remark has the potential to offend someone. Does it matter that a remark “offends” someone somewhere somehow? Sometimes my intended purpose here is to offend a certain demographic (or fan base). I believe offending people like me was Letterman’s intent.
If Jeff Foxworthy shaved his mustache and performed in a double-breasted suit doing his same “Redneck” jokes ….. NASCARNation would go apes**t in anger. Jeff gets away with it by being a redneck himself. Jeff does his shtick totally self-effacing and is beloved by rednecks and non-rednecks alike. The same with Larry The Cable Guy’s outhouse humor. So also was/is Bill Cosby’s. It makes a BIG difference if the comic is perceived as saying “I sure am a dumb silly goof aren’t I.” Yes, he is saying so are you people but that is the straight razor that slices you without pain. Make yourself the foil and the audience laughs with you …. at you.
When Letterman laid into Sarah Palin (and flight attendants) he was doing it via the premise that “I’m a cool faux-intellectual New York Liberal and this moose-hunting Republican bumpkin and her messa youngans are soooo stoopid.” His fellow “we’re sooooo faux-intellectual Liberal buddies” chortled and snorted as was predictable when his “we’re soooo faux-intellectual Liberal” writing team created the bit. And, yes, Letterman needed a ratings boost to counter NBC’s Conan O’Brien Tonight Show thing.
Did Letterman, or his writers, know or care which daughter was with her at the game? I guaran-damn-tee you they never gave it a thought. To Sarah-haters “her daughter” refers to the one who “got knocked up”. I don’t care if Letterman is fired, disemboweled or drawn & quartered over this, but the original intent was to embarrass and demean Sarah Palin and her family (and anyone who supports her). Tying your outrage to which daughter was his target is a specious argument at best.
The best line in the bit was too inside baseball for 80% of the audience. “She bought $150,000 worth of caps and t-shirts”. That joke required fore knowledge of the GOP having spent $150,000 on Sarah Palin’s campaign wardrobe.
My remarks here have, on occasion, offended members of my audience. But today you don’t have “to try to” to “do”. I would offend 4% of an audience if I read the ingredients in a box of corn flakes. Make that a box of Fruit Loops and the % goes into double digits. Toss in “watermelon” and ….. well, you see where I’m going with this.
When you do regret that someone was offended ….. just say “I SINCERELY REGRET THAT YOU WERE OFFENDED” PERIOD. If you stick a “But” on to the end of your apology you just knocked over the punchbowl you earlier pissed in. NEVER SAY “BUT” in any apology. Now days I apologize IN ADVANCE. I find it causes the audience to pay much closer attention to what I am going to say. They don’t want to miss the offensive stuff. Audiences are quite strange little beasts. Damn BL, that’s brilliant. I think so.
EVERYONE on God’s Earth is convinced of two sure things relative to themselves …… (1) ”I” have common-sense and (2) “I” have a marvelous sense of humor. Yeah, right! Anyone who tries to make a living being funny knows “if the audience doesn’t laugh …. It’s not funny”. A famous entertainer gets a Pavlovian laugh from his audience when he simply clears his throat. Bob Hope could walk out on stage carrying a golf club and say “It’s great being here at Tunsanoot Air Base” and the place would go nuts. I’ll try that with the Mudville Chamber of Commerce next month.
David Letterman will not be fired or suspended. Katie Couric will not say one word about it. Neither will Diane Sawyer nor Meredith Viera. The View vultures will use the incident to make their own snarky comments about Sarah Palin. Why hasn’t “The First Lady” spoken out about this? Maybe she is too busy laughing. I’m pretty sure Mrs Obama does not like The Palins, or me, or many of you. I don’t like The Obamas. Someday “they” might kick my door down and take me away for saying that.
Who was Jack Paar’s Doc Severinsen?