The Beck Week That Was: Comedic Props Edition, The Sequel
Reported by Aunty Em - January 29, 2011 -
As Glenn Beck sheds viewers rapidly, nothing seems to be working anymore for the artist formerly known as a Rodeo Clown. Ironically for someone who recently compared himself to Jon Stewart, his recent pathetic attempt to become the American Gandhi and introduction of the phony bologna peace pledge, has made Beck a laughing stock to anyone with a brain. Or anyone with access to YouTube (more about that later), who can see for themselves his continued hateful, violent, over-the-top, eliminationist rhetoric. His sustained attacks on Frances Fox Piven, have only fueled sympathy for the 78-year old woman, who is now getting death threats from the Beckinistas. Nothing Piven has ever said advocated violence, despite Beck’s claims. And, none of her rhetorical flourishes have come even close to his comparisons of President Obama’s administration as Marxists, Socialists, Communists, Fascists, ‘60s Radicals, and/or a cancer trying to destroy Our Great Nation™. His barely concealed anti-Semitic smears of George Soros last year continue to reverberate: recently it resulted in Fox “News” refusing delivery of a 10,000 signature petition demanding it fire Beck and, just this week, 400 rabbis of every political persuasion and orthodoxy published an open letter in the Wall Street Journal calling on Fox “News” to sanction Beck for more Nazi references than you can wave a swastika flag at, and Roger Ailes, for good measure, for Nazi references he made defending Juan Williams and … err … defending the aforementioned Glenn Beck. Since WSJ is one of the cogs in the Massive Murdoch Media Machine, this was a very public (and expensive at $100,000) poke in the eye—just another example of Beck bringing shame to the company. Despite his probable stockpile of ingots of gold, you might say Beck has become the reverse King Midas: lately everything he touches turns to shit. As he becomes increasingly desperate to keep his audience you can almost see the ‘flop sweat’ spread across his brow. So, what’s a self-claimed comedian to do? Fall back on the character that always worked best on his Comedy Carnival Cavalcade—the tried and true—what always worked on his earliest laugh-a-minute shows on Fox “News:” Prop Comedian Extraordinaire. There was a time when Carrot Top and Gallagher (either I or II) were not even fit to boil Beck’s frog water. However, as the props become more incomprehensible, the laughs are fewer and farther between. Glenn’s going to have to step up his game of he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Jon Stewart, or Shecky Green, for that matter.
Speaking of boiled frogs, Beck tried to repeat a comedy skit that worked once before, but it simply fell flat as Beck, just a few hours before President Obama’s SOTU, opened Tuesday’s show by intoning, “Hello. It's bunny time on The Glenn Beck Program,” while holding and stroking a cute little bunny rabbit like some Bizarro Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Then he played a clip of Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett promoting the upcoming SOTU: “The entire message of the speech is about winning for America and all of the pillars that we have to put in place that are going to create an environment where we can jumpstart the economy.” To which Glenn adds:
And, you know, she also -- this one is so funny -- she also said that they're focusing on pillars. You'll never guess how many pillars the president is going to focus on tonight. Yes, yes. Five -- the five pillars.
I mean, you see -- I mean, you're upsetting the bunny, really. Really. Has anybody ever heard of the five pillars of Islam?
Here, will you take, take our little experiment here. [He hands off the cute little bunny rabbit to someone off-camera.]
Five pillars of Islam, Mr. President, I mean, come on. Now you're just poking people, because they know it has nothing to do with that. But you know you're just poking people.
It would be like if I came out with a chain saw [at this Beck pulls out a menacing looking chain saw] and a bunny rabbit -- now, am I going to cut the cute little bunny rabbit in half? [I] Might. I will tell you that we will start this [chainsaw] by the end of the program. What does it have to do with the bunny rabbit? Oh, you'll have to find out.*
It’s obvious he’s trying to recreate his infamous “frog in danger” sketch, but he’s forgetting the first rule of comedy: surprise. It’s clear the moment he begins that this routine will fall flat and here’s why: When he did the previous frog skit he later revealed how he substituted a rubber frog for the real one, also forgetting the first rule prestidigitation: never reveal how the magic is done. Jettisoning those two simple and basic rules of Show Bidnezz made it impossible to go back to the same mine to pan for the same comedy gold. No one believed the cute little bunny rabbit was ever in any danger at all. Whatever analogy he hoped to convey was beyond the point and the laughs were just not there.
Yet, Beck’s nothing if not intrepid, so he attempted to get off at least one good punchline and failed miserably at that as well:
The left should know this -- sometimes words do matter. And I'm pretty sure the truth matters all the time. And then since only the truth that matters is being ignored today, and Tea Partiers and conservatives are being portrayed as evil, cute little bunny killers, I figured today, I might as well just embrace it. Tonight, we get to the truth no one else will.*
Got that? Words matter. Yet when Meredith Vieira recently asked him to take some responsibility for his words, Beck claimed to be no different from Jon Stewart or The Simpsons. And, of course, truth also matters, unless it’s Beck falsifying matters. I defy Beck to produce a quote where anyone on the left has called anyone, anywhere, at any time “evil, cute little bunny killers.” But that’s comedy for you. Sometimes you “slay” an audience and there are other times you “bomb” (both are respectable words in the comedy world). Lately Beck has belly-flopped.
Wednesday’s bit also fell as flat as a pancake and, once again, it was the props that brought the skit to a grinding halt as Beck reviewed the president’s State of the Union address from the previous night.
You know what happens when you take the ideas of limited government or the words of Ronald Reagan and then the progressive actions of Woodrow Wilson, this is what you get. And this is why the whole thing didn't work last night.
[Pulling out a baking sheet with cookies and fish sticks cooked together in a mélange] Here's Ronald Reagan[’s cookie] yumminess and here's the Woodrow Wilson big government fish sticks. You put them too close together on a cookie sheet and they bake them to one ginormous cookie fish stick blob that nobody really wants to eat.
It doesn't work.
I like cookies. I like fish sticks. But they don't really work together.
This is the State of the Union last night.**
Really Glenn? It’s like you’re not even trying anymore. It’s as if you use a Random Prop Generator™ to spit out two incongruent things—cute little bunny rabbits and a chain saw, or cookies and fish sticks—and then try to mine that concept for any tee vee comedy gold. Let’s face facts Glenn: You are no Second City, which improvises sketches that garner huge laughs based on random audience suggestions. Dragging Ronald Reagan and Woodrow Wilson into it only confuses the audience on the east coast, those nearest dinner time, which is salivating at the food on the baking sheet and not even hearing your words.
By Thursday Beck was so hard up to provide laughs, he was resorting to YouTubery to give his audience some chuckles. As proved recently with the woman falling into a fountain while texting, one of the guilty pleasures of surfing the Tubes of You are the videos of idiots doing idiotic things so other idiots can watch them. With 35 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every single minute of every single day, one is sure to find many instances of people lacking good judgment, but still providing boffo laughs. But Beck got no laughs. After first attacking “Jersey Shore” as “poison,” he starts showing YouTube videos of brawls, which can often supply big yucks: first a fight on a bus between two women, then a wild melee in a Wendy’s in Queens, followed by the trashing of an IHOP in South Carolina. But Beck undercuts whatever comedic potential these videos might have had by equating idiots who upload videos of other idiots doing idiotic things on YouTube for other idiots to watch, to the breakdown of modern society, as opposed to people’s innate idiocy. Then for good measure Beck plays a non-YouTube video. It’s one he’s played so many times before that his audience can mouth along with the punch lines, just like how rabid Monty Python fans mouth “pining for the fiords” in the famous “Parrot Sketch.”
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) RADIO HOST: You know today how much money you're getting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I won't. But I'm waiting for a phone call.
RADIO HOST: Where is the money coming from?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe it's coming from the city of Detroit or the state.
RADIO HOST: Where did they get it from?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some funds that was given by Obama.
RADIO HOST: And where did Obama get the funds?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama getting the funds from -- I have no idea, to tell you the truth. He's the president.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BECK: They just got on. "Obama."
They don't know where the money to originates from. They don't say I need this money -- it's a difference between feeding my kids or not feeding them. They just want as they call it later in that, "Obama cash." ***
See, Glenn? Like everything else you’ve been doing lately, your routine has become old, tired, worn out, threadbare, shabby, clichéd and frayed around the edges by your attempts to recycle earlier comedic material for your little tee vee fun house. However, I’m here to help. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I will contact my friends in the comedy world and ask them to provide tips so you can once again “kill” an audience. Watch this space, Glenn.
* This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," January 25, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
** This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," January 26, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
*** This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," January 27, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.