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Do American politicans take themselves too seriously?

Do American politicans take themselves too seriously?

Here in Blighty, there was a TV programme called Da Ali G Show, and the funniest concept was asking unaware politicans, historians and other serious people to be interviewed by (ostensibly) a young “wigger” man steeped in street (aka Staines) culture, who would ask the interviewee the most stupid misunderstood questions. Like asking a historian “What did Winston Churchill mean when he said we will fight dem bitches?”, or the Orange Lodge Grandmaster (arch-Protestant) why he wouldn’t shag the Catholic Corrs. More examples.

By and large, the British respondents were never clued in on the joke, and tried to deal with what they saw as a genuine representative of British youth culture, as opposed to a comedian’s charicature. With the honourable exception of Tony Benn.

Of course, when America tries the same thing – to wit, Viacom’s new show Crossballs, said interviewees run screaming to the Internet
complaining of a vast Left Wing Conspiracy, or announcing to the Internet that they they were almost had.

Can’t these people take a joke, and realise that they are not the all-powerful being they want to be? That not everyone buys into their brand of realpolitik? Get a sense of humour, people!


  • That's odd – I've seen that
    guy, and I got it.

    There's just too much crap
    on television here. Last
    night I actually watched
    The North Shore. Shoot me.

  • Today: Huntington Beach Independent (subscription required) – A debate in the wrong environment – Local environmentalist Joey Racano was a pawn in a Comedy Central TV show debate show spoof.

    By Andrew Edwards, Independent

    Surf City environmentalist and one-time City Council candidate Joey Racano thought he was going to take his message to the airwaves on a serious debate show. But he and other community activists were tricked by an elaborate prank.

    On June 2, Racano, who often pedals his way across town on a black bicycle, was taken to Hollywood and back in a limousine under the pretenses he would appear on MTV network's "The Debate Show."

    He thought that meant he would appear on MTV, bringing political discourse to the rock 'n' roll network.

    The show Racano and others will actually appear on is "Crossballs: The Debate Show," said Tony Fox, a spokesman for Comedy Central. The show is a spoof of political shows like CNN's "Crossfire" and MSNBC's "Hardball" and is set to debut on Comedy Central on July 6.

    Both MTV and Comedy Central are part of the Viacom-owned MTV networks.

    A press release from the comedy group the Upright Citizens Brigade promoted the show, of which group member Matt Besser, is the executive producer.

    The episode Racano taped will not be the first one aired.

    Planned shows listed on the press release include discussions on earth-shattering issues such as "we should all have the right to marry food," "sports stars should be kept in cages," and "fixing bad neighborhoods starts with dressing the homeless as clowns."


    Racano, however, did not get the joke during his time on the set. When he initially discussed his Hollywood experience, he described the show as an entertainment-driven forum for topical debate.

    "It was set up like a game show, and the prize was the Earth," he said. "There were very serious undertones."

    But Racano said he didn't care if the show was a joke as long as he had a chance to speak his mind, regardless of the format.

    "You gotta remember one thing about TV, it's geared to like, second-graders," he said. "Even though it was done in the context of a comedy, they let me speak my piece."

    And the show definitely had some weird moments, Racano said. At one point in the show, Racano said, a woman said environmental groups used their funds to buy fancy hats for park rangers.

    But not all of the guests tricked into being on the show are taking it in stride as Racano is. Second Amendment activist Jim March of Sacramento said he realized the show was a parody and was angry with the producers for trying to fool him. March's attorney sent a cease and desist order to Viacom demanding a taped show where he argued the case for firearms ownership not be aired since he was tricked when asked to be on the show.

    March said he became disgusted with the show after a guest suggested his pro-gun stance was a manifestation of sexual anxieties, and he was handed a male-enhancement pump as a substitute for a firearm.

    "I'm sitting here holding it, saying, 'What the [heck] is this?'" March said.

    Moments that outrage the guests and create "the shock and surprise of disbelief" are what the show is all about, Fox said.

    "The real fun on the show is having experts debate people who think they are experts, but are really improv actors," he said.

    Fox said most guests would not agree to be on the show if they knew it was all for laughs, but Racano doesn't mind the gag at all.

    "Maybe the only way to get a radical environmentalist like me on TV is under the pretense that it's a joke," he said.

  • Yes, THAT Jim March.

    It's not like you think.

    I've talked to four other people so far who've also been on the show. NONE were treated like I was…nothing even close. Matt Besser is a die-hard left-winger – go check the top page for his comedy troupe ( for the "Comics For Kerry" link.

    So when he got somebody on who he took as a "right winger" (not 100% accurate in my case…) he went…well, berzerk. This was NOT just about comedy, it was a severe slam on a political point of view for political ends.

    Well we have a first amendment all right (free speech) – Matt Besser (aka "camo boy") can say whatever the hell he wants but that does NOT include the right to literally falsify legal documents to convince me I was dealing with something straight-up when it was in actuality an attack in the making.

    I have a first amendment right NOT to speak, and I'm excercising it. If they air "my" footage I'm gonna sue the crap out of 'em.

    This is what I wrote two days later, when I was still absolutely boiling and the memories were clear:

    Decide for yourself.

  • With all due respect, my initial response on reading your post was … Who's Jim March? 😉 Which says it all, really…

    Stitching up celebrities/famous people is a time-honoured tradition. Over here in the UK, Chris Morris ( ) got numerous mainstream celebrities to sign up to totally false and fictious campaigns against cake (apparently it's a made-up drug). Part of our infamous sense of humour, taking people down a peg or two.

  • Heh. I'm mentioned in several of the articles in question, which is why I said "that Jim March"…

    But I'm NOT a celebrity or politician.

    I'm a paid political activist/lobbyist…a beginner in the field, a former computer tech 🙂 and doing what I love for damned little money.

    Look, I've been reviewing old Ali G videoclips and transcripts. I've talked to four other people so far who've appeared on "Crossballs". *Nobody* else was treated like I was…I am serious when I say that the "personal attack elements" (against me) were more important to Matt Besser than being funny. The audience was literally getting uncomfortable with the level of ranting he was doing regarding my alleged "sexual issues". Sure, handing me what I finally realized was a goddamn penis pump on national TV got some nervous chuckles but only from the shock value.

    He made it *personal*.

    BDB: don't assume I'm unfamiliar with British humor, my father was Cockney :), I still use a knife and fork "the wrong way 'round", relatives were a mixture of that and recently imported Scots and I grew up on the British comedy we get in the states.

    The primary thing they did with me was NOT COMEDY. It was a politically motivated attack. Not the same thing at all ol' chap.

  • Surely the difference between a political lobbyist and a politician is only in the power they exercise? Otherwise they both (in theory) have a passion for topic Z, and that's what comedians find irresistible to pull down. In the same way that sci-fi fans/geeks also get ripped apart in the playground…

    And personally speaking, I tend to find American comedy either anodyne aa hell (Friends) or going that little bit too far. Crossballs sounds a lot like the latter – going for overkill when a bit of subtlety wouldn't go amiss.

    And of course, whether it was a politically motivated attack also depends on whether they went for tofu-munching vegan pagan left-wing liberal lesbians in the same manner as gun-toting beard-wearing meat-eating conservative Republicans 🙂 I think you alluded in your post there was a left-wing person there, so that might imply they're just going for anyone with an issue they can lampoon.

  • We agree completely re: American comedy. I'm a huge "Red Dwarf" fan :), grew up on Monty Python, etc.

  • kuziticen

    I am so sick of whiny pussies crying to their lawyers every time they see or hear something that "offends" them. You know what? Show me where in the Constitution it says that you have the right to NEVER BE OFFENDED. Oh, that's right, it isn't there.

    This is comedy, ok, and sometimes it's "offensive" and maybe if you'd been a sport, you wouldn't have been "attacked" as you said. Nothing a prankster loves more than to tweak someone with NO SENSE OF HUMOR.

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