For the first episode of podcast called Working, David Plotz talks to Stephen Colbert about how he and his staff construct The Colbert Report. This is fascinating.
My show is a shadow of the news, so I have to know what shadow it’s casting right now, so I can distort it in my own way.
At the 13 minute mark, he talks about how the team communicates with each other about how the show is shaping up, changes, concerns, etc. They do it all by what sounds like text messaging. Paging Stewart Butterfield, you should get those folks on Slack. (via digg)
Building on yesterday’s “The dirty BLEEP,” here are a few more great moments in the artful use of censorship (or its illusion):
- Neven Mrgan and James Moore have an iOS game called “Blackbar” that involves playful use of blacked-out text. (If my last name were missing an expected vowel, I’d be interested in intentional omissions too.) It’s described as “serious,” “artsy,” and “texty,” all adjectives I hope I will one day earn.
- Jimmy Kimmel has gotten a lot of mileage out of “Unnecessary Censorship,” a recurring sketch that uses bleeps and blurs for comedic effect. A proprietor of a popular internet site named J—n K——e confided in me this week that “Kimmel’s… skit always makes me laugh until I pee my pants,” a pretty stirring endorsement if I’ve ever heard one.
Also, besides using the appearance of censorship to remix existing text, audio, and video like “Unnecessary Censorship” does or fully scripting the bleep ahead of time like Arrested Development or South Park do, there’s been a real rise in a mode that’s in between, something that’s deliberate but has the feel of being off-the-cuff. This is probably best exemplified by The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Check out Ashton Kutcher’s “surprise” experience on Colbert:
Here the tension isn’t just between what you’ve heard and what you know was said, but also between the live experience and that of broadcast. It used to be that if you heard a bleep of an event that was recorded live, someone had gone off the rails, like Madonna on the David Letterman show.
Now, TV mostly just lets anything and everything rip for the people in the room, knowing it will amp up the energy in the crowd, but can be bleeped for broadcast later. Then sometimes (like with The Daily Show or Chappelle’s Show on DVD or Netflix), you can catch the uncensored cut at home.
So we get the live, the censored, and the edited-but-encensored experiences, and we’re always mentally bouncing between all three. We know it’s not really spontaneous, but knowing is part of what lets us in on the joke, even though we can’t be in the room.
According to an article published in The International Journal of Press/Politics, both liberals and conservatives find The Colbert Report funny, but the two groups differ in their perception of Stephen Colbert’s actual ideological allegiances.
Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism.
Sean Penn and Stephen Colbert competing in a metaphor competition:
Good lord that’s funny.
Here’s a fun rumor. I heard that the staff of the Daily Show and Colbert Report upload the shows to YouTube as soon as they can after the shows air and then the next day, lawyers from Comedy Central hit YouTube with takedown requests for the uploaded shows. Which makes total sense…sort of. The people making the shows want them to be seen while the lawyers want to ensure that people are paying to see them. It’s a crazy media world we live in.
The Onion interviews Stephen Colbert. “It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything.”