Culture Fail: Colbert is the New Letterman

p15_CF PhotoLast week I pulled the veil on David Letterman not being funny. You’re welcome. This week I’d like to point out that his replacement, Stephen Colbert, will also not be funny. I’m sorry, and you’re welcome again.

The Colbert Report is essentially the same show as The Daily Show, the only difference being that where Jon Stewart is reliably liberal, Colbert is reliably… liberal. But he does it while pretending to be a bloviating, over-the-top right wing ideologue. He’s great though, because he’s making fun of all of us. Conservatives may hate him for making fun of them with his fake persona, but he’s making just as big a fool of the liberals who are all too happy to be on the “winning team.”

The truth is he’s not liberal or conservative, at least not in any meaningful way. He’s a member of that most American of all political parties:

Colbert is super rich.

The super rich don’t give a fig about the divisions that make Internet commenters froth at the mouth. Steve B. from Idaho or Meghan J. down in Florida may see things as black or white. They may only be friends with other liberals, or other conservatives, they may wish death on President Obama, or Senator Ted Cruz, and they may walk around all day seriously believing that the other side of the aisle is genuinely filled with thieves, liars, and the irredeemably stupid. But Colbert is a performer. He’s a super-rich performer. He does his “conservatives are morons” routine, and then he signs off and goes to meet Karl Rove and John Boehner for drinks at a bar where you can’t even afford the complimentary peanuts.

Maybe not exactly, but probably pretty close.

Bill Maher and Ann Coulter are actually close friends in real life. Bill O’Reilly and John Stewart are as well. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; reasonable people who disagree on issues should still be able to be pals. But then when these schlock jocks get on the air and exhort us to go throw rocks through our neighbor’s window because, gasp(!), they’re anti-abortion, or pro-Obamacare, or against tax increases, or for legalization of marijuana, or whatever, they’re simply putting on a performance.

We make these people super rich by asking them to put on political kabuki for us, and then we take them seriously and get riled up.

Smug intellectual elites warm themselves at night, knowing they’re “in on the joke” with Stewart and Colbert, laughing at the imagined monolithic band of conservative imbeciles. Meanwhile conservatives throw another log on the fire and pull up to watch Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell basically do the exact same thing.

Seriously, have you not ever watched Hardball with Chris Matthews and wondered if he isn’t doing a Colbert-esque caricature of liberal hypocrisy?

Colbert will fall flat as Letterman’s replacement. Not because he “hates conservatives” or whatever, but because the late night talk format, as I belabored last week, is stupid and boring. When Colbert drops his shtick for CBS, he’ll also be dropping the one thing that made him a creative genius and made his show different.

Congrats on your $20 million-per-year advertising gig for Sony Studios, Stephen… No, seriously, congrats. That’s an ever lovin’ blue-eyed butt load of money to do commercials for corporate media. Where do I sign up?

By Ygal Kaufman