I’m afraid a lot of folks are missing the big story on the White House Stenographer’s Association Dinner.
First of all, I think Colbert’s material was devasting but his delivery was a little stiff and he was too dependent on his notes. But that’s really irrelevant. The routine itself was more about media punditry than the president. even when he addressed politics, it was in the context of how a pundit would frame it. He never broke character.
The most important thing that happened that night was the routine with Bush and his impersonator. Here’s the reason it’s important:
In satirical comedy the key is to identify the most recognizable characteristic of the subject and amplify it. It must be an actual characteristic or there will be no humor. Think about every good impersonation you’ve ever seen whether political or celebrity. You laugh because you recognize the subject’s peculiarities.
And what charactersitic was selected for amplification in that routine:
Bush Is Stupid!
This may not be news to people with measurable brain activity, but it is significant that it has now been validated in public by this event. And the fact that the president would participate in this certification of his idiocy is astonishing.
This was not typical self-deprecation, it was a confession. It was an acknowledgement that the one element of Bush’s character that is obvious to all is what an ignorant boob he is. And it was funny because it was true.