Colbert in the No Spin-off Zone
Originally a 30-second sketch that appeared on ‘The Daily Show,’ ‘The Colbert Report’ (along with former ‘Daily Show’ corespondent, Stephen Colbert) has broken away from its father and is now a full fledged series.
Whereas ‘The Daily Show’ is primarily a satire on straight news programs and the media as a whole, the sole target of the ‘The Colbert Report’ is Bill O’Reilly. The ‘Report’ is mainly set up around the question: ‘What if O’Reilly could do whatever he wanted on his show?’ Colbert answers this by hanging portraits of himself throughout the set, having his desk shaped like a giant ‘C’ and by flashing signs of ‘The Colbert Report’ wherever possible.
While the idea behind a show that just rips on O’Reilly may sound funny, it’s a much different story when actually trying to create it (which is why it started out as a simple sketch). Anyone who watches the ‘Factor’ knows that the sparks of genius come from the interviews and the Fox News charm shows itself during the many instances of conservative-on-conservative lovemaking.
Now, ‘The Daily Show’ does a great job of pointing these idiosyncrasies from a fly-on-the-wall perspective. What the ‘Report’ tries to do, however, is lambaste Fox News directly, from a first-person perspective. To make the ‘Report’ a good show, Colbert would have to interview conservatives, agree with everything they say and basically make fun of them by not arguing. However, this is impossible to accomplish on a show which appears on Comedy Central and is hosted by a former ‘Daily Show’ correspondent. Put simply, every guest should know that he or she will be made fun of. So instead of just not arguing, Colbert opts instead for various media personalities and random low-grade celebrities. In other words, there’s no bloviating here.
The rest of the show is comprised of boring monologues and predictable sketches. Aside from a few enlightening moments, these speeches are usually irritating, moreso if you watched ‘The Daily Show,’ which precedes ‘The Colbert Report.’ The problem is that the ‘Report’ makes fun of the exact same things and tells the exact same jokes that ‘The Daily Show’ just told a half-hour before. In this way, Comedy Central is becoming just as redundant as Fox News.
Another problem with the series is its many non-news related jokes. Most of these come from the hypothetical question: ‘What if we could see how O’Reilly treats his crew?’ This results in every episode having some skit in which Colbert either yells at or insults a crew member.
As another nod to the ‘Factor,’ Colbert consistently challenges a fictional liberal radio talk show host (‘Mr. Show’s’ David Cross). All these pieces are designed to make the show last a full half-hour. But, series cannot last forever by doing the same thing every night.
The less biting, less witty spin-off of ‘The Daily Show’ is a valiant attempt to tease the conservative media, but instead ends up as a common talk show with the same jokes that every show seems so proud. come up with. There’s no argument about it, the spin stops here.