Every morning as I get ready for school, I comb through last night’s clips from the host of last night’s talk shows. Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, (there are far too many men on this list), and my favorite funny lady Samantha Bee.
I can’t stomach Jimmy Fallon anymore. As the world has changed in the last few months and maybe even years, I’ve felt him to continue his petulant, self-obsessed, unnatural behavior on a stage that has been used by his predecessors and peers to make some of the most poignant statements and astute observations about the world.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately- when we have the opportunity to use our voices for change, are we bad citizens when we don’t?
I don’t know. Maybe. Jimmy Fallon sure is. I’m sorry bud, but when Prez #45 is on your show and all you do is floof his hair, that sure isn’t using the platform correctly.
These late night talk shows are the only place I can find solace. They’re the only way I can receive information about the world right now. I cannot stomach my news without a side of comedy. Bee especially doesn’t hold anything back on her show. She is well-informed and well-sourced. She is a loud, brash woman who isn’t afraid of receiving criticism for her beliefs. Her comedy is searing. It is so raw because it is so true. Her piece on the travel ban is one of the most no-holds-barred pieces I’ve also seen on television.
So maybe for a while, this is the only way I can learn about my world. Whatever. That’s fine. I’ll get my news filtered through a Nasty Woman and I won’t think twice about it. Is it one sided, or too liberal? Sure. Do I assume that the news she presents is the only side of the story? Not always. But I agree with her. And I like her. And she holds the world accountable in a way that Mr. Floof The Cheeto Prez’s Hair never would even dream of doing.
As we talk about The Shipment by Young Jean Lee in class, I’ve been thinking about why we use comedy when we want to say something hard. We use comedy as a palate cleanser, a way to lower our guard and then receive the real point. In Lee’s play, comedy is used as a tool to get the audience all on the same page, make us feel calm and at ease, and then Lee really hits us with the points. Especially in part 2, when Douglas comes out and does his stand-up comedy bit, the structure is even stronger. He literally sets up a joke with ease and then slams us with a pair of squinted eyes accusing us of being evil. And he’s not wrong, really.
This pattern seems to work wherever you go. People are more open to learning when they are laughing. Comedy opens our mouths so that the real point can be shoved right in there.
So, I like my news with comedy. It’s the only way the real point is gonna feel real enough to swallow.