Prunes & Politics

Awards shows are usually dull viewing, but last night’s broadcast of the Emmy Awards was so bad it was almost shocking: not just lame (I expected that), but unprofessional. It was like a public access show with better-looking people and better production values.

On top of its general crapitude, ABC also managed to make the occasion a pretty impressive display of cowardice, cutting away from John Adams writer Kirk Ellis, just as he was about to make the shocking charge that George W. Bush is inarticulate. Heavens! We can’t let our viewers hear such heresies!

Leave it to Stephen Colbert to figure away around the suits’ preemptive censorship.

After kicking off his segment with a bit of mild meta-satire (to co-presenter Jon Stewart: “nobody wants to watch us talk about politics”), he pulled a plastic snack pouch out of his pocket, and began snacking.

“You need to do that right now? You need to eat prunes?” said Stewart.

“Yes. I need to. And you know what I think right now America needs a prune. It may not be a young sexy plum, granted it is shriveled and at times hard to swallow but this dried up old fruit has the experience we need,” said Colbert.

“You know after eight years of prunes you would think,” said Stewart.

“Never enough,” replied Colbert. “What could possibly go wrong?”

(Transcript from here.)

It certainly isn’t very daring to call McCain “old,” and it’s a pretty silly bit, but under the circumstances, it’s brilliant. It’s perfectly in character, for starters: “Stephen Colbert” (the character, not the comedian) of course supports McCain, and buys his “experience” argument. But the stubborn insistence on trying to score political points even when he’s been warned not to is also in keeping with Colbert’s on-air alter ego (to the extent that he, the “fake” Colbert, gets the blame for flouting the no politics rule).

And the silliness works, too. McCain supporters can’t really make much of a fuss about their candidate’s being compared to a prune without sounding humorless (or, conversely, without tacitly admitting that there is a resemblance).

As for the punchline (“What could possibly go wrong?”), I’m not ordinarily a fan of mixing scatology and satire (it’s cheap, and substitutes shock for substance), but it was funny, and seemed peculiarly appropriate to the current state of our union: we’ve been eating prunes for the past eight years, never suspecting what was about to hit us. And now…

…well, just read the paper.

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One Response to “Prunes & Politics”

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