Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

1/2 Hour News Hour: Fair and Balanced Comedy for Dumb America

Reported by Deborah - July 23, 2007 -

Guest Blogged By Crallspace

Like the painful days of Saturday Night Live writers' block that comes and goes about every 3-5 years, like the obnoxious, amateur writing style of Mad TV, Fox News' "The Half Hour News Hour" usually makes one decent joke a night, followed by a bunch of empty filler and jokes that bomb. Last night's show (7/22/07) was no exception.

The show opened with its usual Weekend Update-style headlines with the one male and one female host. Their chemistry has improved somewhat since the show began, but still, not enough decently written material to compensate. They opened with a "story" that made me laugh, proving that my politics do not influence my sense of humor. "Dennis Kucinich spoke out against fellow Democratic hopeful John Edwards, who said that small-time candidates should not be invited to the big debates. At that point, the karaoke DJ told Kucinich to either sing or shut up and get off the stage." That was actually funny, and was fairly well delivered. It was all downhill from there. Surprisingly, a joke was made about Republican hopeful Giuliani's divorce and "pre-nuptual agreement with the country." I was confused, but the audience (or pre-recorded audience laughtrack) oohed and ahh'd as if something over-the-top was just said. Then, some baseball team's record of unusually high failure was compared to Ralph Nader. Hilarious.

After this usual, boring program introduction, they cut to what was supposed to be John Edwards' headquarters in South Carolina. The actor they hired looked nothing like, and barely sounded like, John Edwards. The green clay-masked, cucumber-eyed "Edwards" made his plea for the working man, while his assistants surrounded him, giving him everything from a pedicure to facial exfoliation to Botox surgery. OK, we get it... Edwards pays a lot for his haircuts. That's just too funny for words, so thank you, FOX, for making a sub-par sketch of a topic of sub-par comedic value. Meanwhile, no jokes about the wasteful spending of the Bush administration or the Pentagon were included in tonight's show.

As the laughtrack from the last segment still echoed, the "Hollywood Helping Humanity" mock-up of celebrity Public Service Announcement began. This time, it was some guy imploring us to donate our bodies' carbs to starving Africans. The creatively added laughtrack seemed to imply, "Whoa, this is borderline inappropriate stuff- I can't believe I just heard that." The sketch wasn't offensive, daring or 'dark.' In fact, it wasn't funny either; it was dumb.

Following this awkward moment and commercial break, the show returned to its boring rip-off of SNL's Weekend Update, cracking jokes on Rosie O'Donnell, Gay Pride Day at a San Diego Padre's game that ended in a "bench-clearing hissyfit," Oprah having Barack Obama on her show, some cheesey joke about a global trekker being eaten by a Polar Bear, then concluded with a mild joke about John McCain passing some Social Security bill when in actuality, "he'll be collecting Social Security soon."

And what comedy/variety show would be complete without a 'man on the street' segment? Some guy was sent out to make light of the Democratic hopefuls and their noticeable diversity. After all, there is a woman, a Hispanic, a (part) African-American, along with the others in the race. To reflect this in a... humorous way, or whatever it was they were going for, their correspondent asked a bunch of people on the street if they would vote for a Latino? An African American? An Asian? A woman? Then it got more creative, in a high school sort of way. Would you vote for a Catholic? A Mormon? A transvestite? A dwarf? A guy with a tattoo on his head like Mike Tyson? An exotic male dancer? A leper?

At this point, the laughter was flowing like, well... molasses. The program continued with a PSA-style spot, this one talking about how bad the ACLU is for fighting in favor of the Koran being required study in a class at the University of North Carolina years back. Because Fox "News" is fair and balanced, I'm certain that it'll be a matter of no time before the program trashes the ACLU for defending the privacy of a drug-addicted, right wing radio personality.

Following this gem was another commercial break to stir the minds of a captive, consumptive audience. The show returned with the cartoon character, "Guy White: Closet Conservative." This character works in an office of liberals who listen to Air America and admire the likes of Noam Chomsky. Guy is fed up and wants to say something. He wants to "come out" to his liberal co-workers who assume he is about to reveal his gayness, drunkenness, or gayness while being drunk. As they march toward him to hear his confession, they automatically begin chanting, "Bush lies, babies die! Bush lies, babies die! ...now, what was it you wanted to tell us?" Guy then clams up and doesn't tell them his dark secret- but they don't care because they're marching away shouting, "Bush lies, babies die!" This was where the sad attempts at humor almost self-ruptured. The writers may as well have just put in a black screen and a narration saying, "We are not going to even try to be funny at this point. Let's just pause for a moment and think about liberals and how much we hate them. Damn Bush hating liberals!"

To continue this dog and pony show of "fair and balanced" Fox-style laughter, the segment known as "Informed Consent" started. Here, we see a desparate attempt to convey the writer believes that liberal, Hollywood types get more credit than experts in public debate, especially with issues like immigration. Some obvious actor portrayed a former Reagan administration official while a pseudo-celebrity sat opposite him. The segment host was impartial to the 'ignorant, liberal' Hollywood celebrity spouting dumb phrases and uninformed rhetoric while the Reagan-era 'expert' got no time to talk. Genius material! We get it. FOX was just reminding us that while serious experts these days try to make their case on serious matters, they are drowned out by one-liners and fluff phrases by dopey celebrities and cheapo spinsters. Something Fox "News" has no role in, granted.

This baffling attempt at a comedy program concluded with the always obscure, never short of confusing references or uninteresting metaphors Dennis Miller. In his snakey, fake intellectual-snob persona, he railed on Hillary, liberals using the word "but" instead of "however," Iran's president who needs to be "offed" soon and the rest of the world who envies and hates us for our undying success. He also explained his less-than-meaningful reason for driving a large SUV (so that he can be t-boned by a Hollywood writer who just got rejected and make his/her life more miserable), and he concluded with a real doozie. Yes, war-happy Dennis Miller said that killing terrorists before they kill us is "pre-emptive Universal Healthcare."

For as much or little as they try, the writing staff of the Half Hour News Hour doesn't do much for the world of comedy. In fact, they hardly do anything for their network, which has the money to hire talented, funny people. Think about it. The Simpsons, Family Guy, Arrested Development. FOX is no stranger to talented comedy writers; but when it comes to peddling their faded, see-thru political agenda, FOX doesn't mind being a bottom feeder. Where else will they find people who will tow the Rupert Murdoch line of neo-conservative spin? This is evident in Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto, John Gibson, The Beltway Boys... or the Half Hour News Hour. The network is an apocalyptic end for a desparate political agenda, about to come a'crashin' down.