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Faith, Media & Culture

Faith, Media & Culture

Why Jon Stewart and Greg Gutfeld are funny and Bill Maher and Tracy Morgan aren’t

Here are today’s dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1. HBO renews crappy show. From Hollywood Reporter: HBO kicked off Wednesday’s Television Critics Association Tour session by announcing it has picked up Bill Maher’s show, Real Time With Bill Maher, for a 10th season.

2. Maher mocks Beck’s Israel speech. From The Blaze: On this week’s coming episode of Real Time, Maher will reportedly dedicate one of his “new rules” to Israel, a country Maher thinks must change its motto to “save us from our friends.” Obviously a jab at Glenn, coming on the heels of his CUFI address.
Maher, who snidely labeled Beck a “boneless baby-man with the emotional maturity of Polly Pockets,” insinuated Beck is delusional for counting himself a Jew who is willing to defend Israel, saying: “Well, sorry tubby dearest, but spending the weekend in Israel doesn’t make you a Jew, it’s like going to Disneyland and announcing you’re a duck.”
Comment: Nasty, but actually pretty mild stuff for Maher who seems to conflate name calling with comedy.

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Compare him to the Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart, an actual comedian, who employs pointed humor and satire without resorting to desperate and childish name calling and the comparison isn’t pretty. I disagree with them both politically but Stewart is clever . Even when he’s targeting my side on a particular issue, his comments usually have the ring of, at least, some truth.  Plus, he does actually recognize and occasionally skewer the excesses of the left.

Some conservatives attack Stewart for being unfair. I think that in itself is unfair because comedians aren’t required to be fair. They’re allowed to have a point of view. It is fair, however, to ask that they be actually, you know, funny — and that their humor be rooted in something resembling truth (Stewart’s is even when I disagree with him) and not be flat out mean.

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I don’t care if it’s Maher attacking Bristol Palin and her mom (“The s–t doesn’t fall far from the bat”) or Tracy Morgan thinking stabbing a gay child to death is a punchline (he’s since apologized) or Morgan cruelly mocking the mentally handicapped (“them young retarded males is strong … they’re strong like chimps.”) mean isn’t funny, never will be. (BTW, as far as I know, Morgan’s latter comment went unapologized for. I can only guess that advocacy groups for the mentally handicapped aren’t politically powerful enough to warrant an apology, much less a full-fledged apology tour.)

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True comedy lies in truth, not cruelty. Stewart gets it. Maher doesn’t.

One more thing: Funny as Stewart is, he could use some conservative competition. My suggestion would be taking Fox News’ Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld and running it either on FX or as a syndicated show on Fox broadcast affiliates at 11:00 PM. Like Stewart, Gutfeld and his panel are opinionated and funny without resorting to schoolyard-like bullying and name calling,

The show could still be replayed at 3:00 AM (or whatever unworldly hour it appears on Fox News). The move would draw viewers to Red Eye  while  providing viewers with real comedic choice. The Daily Show vs. Red Eye. May the funnier show win. And may Bill Maher grow up.

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3. Simon Miller arrives on NBC next week.

The family adventure Who is Simon Miller?, the seventh in the Walmart-P&G Family Movie Night series, premieres next Saturday night (Aug. 6) at 8:00 PM (ET).  I’ve seen it and I can tell you that it’s a really good ride that the whole family can enjoy.  I’ll have more next week.

4. Tough times hit the Tooth Fairy. From The Denver PostThe economy is so tough that it has taken a bite out of what kids get for losing teeth. Compared with a year ago, youngsters reaching under their pillows have found an average of 40 cents less per tooth, according to a recent Visa Inc. survey.The going rate nationally per tooth is down to $2.60 from $3.
Comment: That’s why they Tooth Fairy is diversifying her portfolio with into gold tooth fillings.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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