Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

October 21, 2007

Incredible! Tim Russert Has managed to Make Stephen Colbert…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 11:12 am

…utterly unfunny. I’m watching what has to be the most cringe-inducing moments on the history of American television. I don’t know how he did it, but Russert who I generally kind of like, may have the worst comic instincts I’ve ever seen. He’s trying to play along with Colbert’s put-on Presidential candidacy by putting on that he’s taking it seriously. Playing the tough interrogator, putting on a parody of himself. Although he’s almost revealing that he already is a parody of himself.

This is not comic. It’s tragic. I mean I think Colbert’s a genius for his high wire act of sustaining a one-joke concept for night after night. It’s laugh out loud brilliant. You keep waiting for it to become too obvious and heavy handed, but his show almost never hits a false note.

Yet somehow with Russert mock “grilling” him, it all seems to come crashing to the ground from that high wire. it makes you want to avert your eyes from the wreckage. It’s a moment that will go down–way, way, down–in the history of bad comedy and skin crawling embarrassment.

I think it’s going to be legendary. I’m sure it will be YouTubed in a moment and if anyone sends me a link I’ll post it.

But it’s just so so painful I don’t think I can watch it again.

Update: Here it is.


  1. Ron;

    You’re right. It was a flop. Watching Colbert’s quips go thud was not fun but far from a “skin crawling embarrassment”. Please remember, Russert is a newsman, not a trained straight man. This brings me to my main point. I know blogging means writing on the fly. However, far too often your reactions to your chosen topics tend to the excessive: “Worst. Serial. Ad. Ever” “OMG, this is the most amazing story I’ve seen in the New York Times, indeed maybe in any media in a long, long time.” And now, the Colbert-Russert interview rates as one of the “most cringe-inducing moments on the history of American television”. (Really? Have you heard of – or more importantly watched – any “reality” television?). Such over-the-top buildups provoke lofty expectations in the reader, which if not fulfilled, cause a big thud. They also flatten the landscape. Do you really believe Iran and Ahmadinejad equal Nazi Germany and Hitler or are you just swinging for the fences?

    Well, this is written on the fly, as you say, but I think that’s what’s appealing (and sometimes fun) about blogging, is that it’s a different kind of writing, one that encourages you to give vent to excited utterances, the way you feel at the moment. And that people will understand these are often more like diary entries than chin-stroking, hevily mediated medititations, and that some of the exaggeration is for comic effect. I don’t know about you but that’s how I often respond to something—“Worst. Cereal Ad. Ever.” You are fortunate to be more temperate, I guess, but I think most people would view the title and the post as not meant to be a serious essay on the comparative history of cereal ads, you know. If that’s what you really wanted, than I am sorry to disappoint you and I envy your more phegmatic disposition.

    Meanwhile, as for your last point, this is a valuable essay/lecture,

    which has some interesting historical perspectiveon the subject.

    Comment by Ian Crerar — October 23, 2007 @ 11:11 am | Reply

  2. Ron;

    As a follow-up to my original comment: after seeing my comment published, I can hear the flamer in me. Despite this, I stand by my criticism. That’s because “Rosenbaum, you magnificent bastard. I read your book!” Looking to the left of my screen, I see the blurb reviews of “Explaining Hitler”. They are not exaggerations. It is one of the finest books I have read. You have taken the central question of the last century, the Nazi regime and the holocaust, and written a compelling, nuanced and reasoned masterpiece.
    That is why when I read the force of some of the remarks on your blog, I’m taken aback. More than my original complaint about too much hyperbole in lead-ins , I found remarks such as on the Colorado mine disaster -“where corporate criminals [should be] prosecuted and punished like the enemies of the state they are” and “from the looks of you porcine physiognomy you’ll soon be rotting in hell”– overly strident, even if the underlying assumptions are sound. As you have said elsewhere on your blog, “the atmosphere in the comments section of most blogs is thick with imprecations”.

    Thank you for your generous comments about my book. I don’t want to repeat myself but I think blogging is a different kind of writing, meant for more spontaneous, immediate, excited responses. I have a suggestion. If you liked my book but not my blog-style, why not skip the blog and read my new book,The Shakespeare Wars. Some think it’s just as good as the Hitler book.

    Comment by Ian Crerar — October 24, 2007 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

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