Sigh, via Athenae:

“The earnest Washington audience — lobbyists, policy types, writers, etc. — picked up on the conventional wisdom that the comics have become the go-to source for America’s news. They kept asking about it in different ways for an hour. The comics took the questions seriously at first, but then they grew more and more uncomfortable with what was starting to sound like a growing social responsibility.”


“Then it hit me that the people in the audience thought the comics led a glamorous life and the people wanted the comics to bring that glamor to news. But the comics made it clear they work hard at their jobs, similar to journalists perhaps, but they’re not journalists. Their job title is ‘comic’ and they report to their offices early each day with enough on their plates for chrissakes, and that usually entails keeping up with what journalists are reporting.”

A couple notes:

1. So, no one in the audience had ever heard Tom Lehrer? Mort Sahl (that guy on Keith Olbermann)? Will Rogers? Bill Hicks? Vaughn Meader? Comedians have been killing journalism for decades now.

2. Comedy jokes aren’t antithetical to the purpose of journalism, insofar as they’re probably the best way of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. Especially the former. There have been funny people in journalism – Royko, Ivins, Barry, and the great comics artists I grew up with, like Gary Larson and Bill Watterson. It wasn’t that long ago.

3. Comedy jokes are actually difficult. (Watch Jerry Seinfeld’s amazing documentary Comedian.) It may be the hardest thing in the world: the only thing more uncomfortable than hearing or reading a failed joke is actually making it (trust me), and most people who are funny have spent years learning to tell more funny jokes than unfunny ones. It’s fun to listen to the ouevre of people like Chris Rock or Maria Bamford, since you can actually hear them improve from album to album, and that’s with the caveat that you have to be at least sort of funny to get an album deal in the first place.

4. Which is why it’s awesome when it works, and why people will beat a path to your door if you tell funny comedy jokes. This is not unrelated to pageviews.