Is Stephen Colbert Ok?

by Shelt Garner

At the moment, Late Night TV is in flux. James Corden is leaving The Late Late Show. Mike Birbiglia had a star making turn replacing Jimmy Kimmel while he had COVID…and Stephen Colbert is out from COVID “until further notice?”

My fear, of course, is that Colbert has long COVID and he may be knocked out of commission long-term. If that happened, there would likely be a lot of chatter about him retiring and who his replacement might be.

The logical replacement for Colbert, should it come to that, would be his mentor Jon Stewart. But other names that might be thrown about would be Birbiglia and maybe even Trevor Noah.

Which brings up something interesting — Late Night TV is the one place at the moment where the traditional “center” has held. It’s a bunch of interchangeable white men doing their interchangeable white man thing. It definitely seems as though the average American wants a Johnny Carson clone on their TV when they’re just about to go to sleep.

Anyway. Everything is out of whack right now. Talk about a vibe shift!

Is Stephen Colbert Funny?

by Shelt Garner

Short Answer: Yes. Very

Long Answer: It depends. I find Colbert consistently funny night after night. And, yet, you continue to hear within fucking cocksucker MAGA New Right circles that he’s not funny. He’s a part of “the system” and he’s just another portion of the liberal propaganda machine.

Depends on who you ask.

I struggle to sort such thinking out because I really like what Colbert has done with his show since Trump took office. But, I think what I’m having difficulty understanding is there are people within the MAGA New Right personality death cult who actually like fucking cocksucker Donald Trump and get very upset if you pick on him.

It just boggles my mind.

The crux of the issue, I think is two fold. One, generally to be funny is to be center-Left. By definition. It’s extremely difficult to be funny and conservative because telling a joke is meant to be a somewhat Leftist act unto itself. Second, fascists are not know for having the greatest senses of humor. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Trump laugh once in his public life.

Also, I think Colbert has established himself as the most newsy of the late night talk shows and so he’s willing to play it straight — not be funny on purpose — to convey some not-so-great news to his audience. As such, the cry babies of the MAGA New Right watch Colbert and get upset.

I just don’t take myself that seriously in general. And it’s self-evident that Trump is an humorless piece of shit. So, you have to forego humor if you support him.

The MAGA New Right Hot Takes On Colbert Doing A Song & Dance Gag About Getting Vaccinated Are Fucking Bonkers

by Shelt Garner

I see our current lingering COVID19 pandemic as a national health crisis and, as such, we need all the help we can get to end it. If that means a late night talk show host does a silly song and dance routine about getting vaccinated, so be it.

But, no, the MAGA New Right hot takes were flying hard and fast tonight about how “unfunny” Colbert was for promoting vaccination. It’s shit like that which really hits home that the bolts are popping off the United States at an alarming rate.

If negative polarization has reached such a white hot level that we can’t even agree on what’s funny because we see everything through the lens of politics, something is deeply wrong.

But there’s one thing we have to understand about this difference in senses of humor — it represents a very serious problem. It makes me remember when I went to the MAGA rally in D.C. after Election Day. At some point, I started to get spooked because people were looking at me funny — I think they knew I was live streaming the event and not exactly giving it a thumbs up with my commentary.

I felt…alarmed. Like, under the wrong conditions I might be physically accosted if I stuck around too long. As such, there are real world consequences to this bullshit.

If we can’t even laugh at the same things, then we really are two nations, one Red, one Blue. Now what.

Leaders, Now Is Your Time To Shine #CoronaVirus #WuFlu #COVID19

Get ready, Jon.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

On 9/11, Rudy became America’s Mayor because he was a leader for one memorable afternoon. He soon became the toast of the nation and, but for him generally being a doofus otherwise, he might have even become president one day.

And now we have a new crisis on our hands. But this one is not one that will involve minutes or hours, but days, weeks and maybe even months. It’s not day-long event, it’s a month’s long process. This is when you have to start thinking about leadership on a practical level.

A fish rots from its head, so we can lulz the entire Federal executive at this point. And, really, I just don’t see anyone in the Legislation branch being in a position to step into the leadership void. So, it seems, it’s likely to be local and state leaders who may see their career’s taken to the next level. Leadership is like water — it flows wherever it happens to be. There thousands of qualified leaders on the local and state level and as it becomes apparent that the Federal government is brain dead a lot of talented people are going to find themselves pushed into the spotlight.

I’m still not totally prepared to say this is going to get as bad as it might. But the conditions sure are there. That people directly from the Wuhan hotzone essentially spread their version of COVID19 to people in California is, however, enough to give one pause for thought. The issue is because of how bad the Trump Administration is we’re giving COVID19 a lot more time to spread within the American population than it might otherwise. There are just so many social events taking place right now that once we finally realize we have The Stand on our hands, that it will be rather jaw dropping.

And that will be the moment when leadership will count most. And, yet, it won’t be just elected officials who will face a moment of truth. It will be people like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert who will find themselves required to address the nation in ways they never imagined. And all because we — or the Russians — elected a doofus Right-wing Twitter troll as our president.

All I can say is good luck and God speed.

Some Thoughts On How America Gets Out Of This Trump Mess #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner

The existential question of the day is whether or not Donald Trump is a fluke or the dawn of a new, dystopian era in American history. One thing is fore sure, Trump’s rise to power is the culmination of structural, systemic issues in the American body politic. Not to invoke his name too lightly, but Trump, in a sense, is an American Hitler if you think of history but as the biography of great men.

It is possible that the United States will bounce back, at least momentarily, from this Bad King. I mean, Caligula in all his insanity didn’t manage to bring down the Roman Empire. But I do think Trump is endemic of the end of the American Republic. The entire system is so broken, so built to squash leadership in any meaningful way, that there’s a real chance the United States is fucked.

And, yet, it is at least possible to put a positive spin on things. But it would require some pretty astonishing things to happen. The crux of the issue is — has Trump so fundamentally warped American politics that we can’t go back to traditional politicians? Have we reached Idiotracy at last and from now one, our politicians have to be establish celebrities and our celebrities have to be politicians? The answer to that kind of question will come, probably about November 2018.

When people begin to throw their hats into the presidential ring in earnest in late 2018, that will determine the tempo of things. A lot, unfortunately, depends on one Donald J. Trump. If Trump manages to survive past 2020 and have a second term, it’s really likely that there really will be no turning back. It’s very possible that we will have entered a new era in American political life that really is dark and uncharted. A lot depends who Trump is going to be up against in 2020.

I have long suggested that the only type of person who could defeat Trump, who is nothing more than overgrown middle-school bully, would be the adult equivalent of a middle-school class clown. It seems readily apparent that someone like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert or even Chelsea Handler might be the silver bullet that might be able to slay the political monster that is Trump. Handler, in particular is, in a weird way, perfectly suited to the task at hand. She’s got just the right acerbic wit combined with a tough as nails sensibility that she could effectively deal with whatever horrific vitriol the Right wing managed to throw at her. There is the issue of a sex tape released by a vengeful ex-boyfriend, but I would like to think in this bizarre political world we now live in that wouldn’t be held against her too much, at least by most voters.

Meanwhile, both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would be great candidates as well, but it’s highly unlikely that Stewart would leave his petting zoo in New Jersey or that Colbert would leave a successful late night talk show to run for president.

One thing we have to take seriously is how the Russians might try to meddle in the election again. The American political system is so fucked up in a structural way, that it’s very well possible they could throw the election to Trump AGAIN and nothing would happen. Trump really has a near mystical hold on his followers that is difficult to explain or break. It is very well possible that he will not only survive, but thrive and prosper in the coming days and that there really will be nothing to stop him from finishing two complete terms.

That, of course, would leave the issue of where will America be once he finally has to step down. I would, again, suggest that that will be settled by who his successor is. If Trump’s successor, after eight years in office, is another celebrity, then that would be a definitely different spin on things than if it was a career politician. At this point, it’s too early to tell which it will be. Right now, it seems as though Trump is going to plow his way through the American political system, doing as much damage as possible.

And, yet, if, say, someone like James Comey were to succeed Trump at some point in the future, the American Republic might bounce back a lot quicker than you might think. But that is being really optimistic. It is difficult for me to say in good faith that the United States is even a Republic at all anymore. We are careening towards a theocratic, autocratic plutocracy of sorts. No amount of leadership will fix such long term trends. Effective leadership might manage it, mitigate it or ameliorate it but it won’t eliminate it altogether.

Having said all that, I would also like to say that as an American, I have hope that American exceptionalism still burns in the hearts and minds of its citizens and we ultimately will reject the “managed democracy” of Russia. I’d like to think that at some point people power will kick in and we’ll take back our government from the kleptocracy that it’s succumb to for the time being. But I don’t know, I just don’t know. I can’t predict the future and it could go either way, it really could.

At this point, we’re just going to have to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune until November 2018. If the “Blue Wave” really does wash down on the shores of Washington, then we can talk. Then there is a real chance that this Trumpian nightmare will end sooner rather than later and we can put it behind us. But every day Trump is in office, we risk bigger and worse disasters.

A real chance exists that Trump will try to save his sorry ass politically by pulling the biggest “wag the dog” in American history by initiating a “preemptive war” against the DPRK. I could totally see him doing it by, say July 2018, so in about November 2018 his approval rating will be in the high 80s as TV and social media are awash with the spectacular images of the long-oppressed people of North Korea at last being liberated. We could all wake up in 2021 to a truly distopian future.

One fear I have is Trump is, really, the only thing keeping the United States away from a civil war. The peace of mind that Trump gives the insane Right wing may be a weird firebreak that we won’t realize we enjoy until it’s gone. The United States is, right now, effectively two different nations and it could tear itself apart if we don’t find some effective leadership in years ahead. But sometimes you don’t get leadership until there’s a reason for people to rise to the occasion, so who knows what will happen.

Stephen Colbert For President

by Shelton Bumgarner

Now that it’s been established that a complete imbecile, Right wing troll, celebrity can become president, why not a smart funny liberal one? I have suggested several times in the past that Jon Stewart would be the perfect person to run against Donald Trump in 2020, but he seems completely and totally uninterested in public life these days.

So, I find myself looking for someone else.

Oprah is an obvious choice, but I don’t know if she could handle the complete bonkers viciousness of the alt-Right who would probably come after her with Tiki torches should she run. So, looking around, there seems to be one person who could slay the political dragon that is Donald Trump. In real terms, the direct political equivalent of Donald Trump is Keith Olbermann. But Olbermann, while articulate, is a little too on the money as a Trump Leftist equivalent.

Stephen Colbert, meanwhile, would be a perfect political candidate for these bonkers, unprecedented times that we live in. One thing Trump is not is funny. He has zero sense of humor. That’s his weakness. I think someone with a real sense of humor could deal a serious blow to Trump in a head-to-head political fight. There are other funny politicians, like Al Franken, but he seems ambivalent, to say the least about running for president.

Colbert seems, at least to me, to be the perfect candidate for the modern political environment that we live in. He’s funny, smart, and extremely earnest. He has zero political experience beyond one faux political campaign, but the instant he announced for president people in the center-Left would get on board pretty quick. There would be a real movement quality to the whole thing, just as there was with Trump in the first place.

As I said more than once, the thing about Trump is, the only person who can defeat the middle-school bully is the middle school class clown.

The question, of course, is Colbert do it? I have a feeling, no. Not in 2020. But after eight years of Trump in 2024 — and after Colbert has about a decade as a late night host under his belt — maybe the siren call of politics might be too much for him and he might do it. But who knows.

Foresight Is 20/20 – The 2020 Election & Trump: Will Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart Save Us?

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have to agree with Roger Stone that there is a real risk of political violence in the next four to eight years. I suspect what is going to happen is that 2020 will be the most consequential presidential election since 1860 and just as messy. I have a feeling that the two parties are going to split into four for similar reasons. The Trump base of the Republican Party will force the Romney establishment of the Republican Party out of the party altogether. Meanwhile, the Zuckerburg center-left of the Democratic Party will split from the progressive base of that party.

I still think that that someone like Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart will throw their hat into the ring change everything. But that’s just me daydreaming. The video below goes into great length about what I’m talking about.

The Fall Of The Fallon Empire & The Rise Of Colbert Nation

by Shelton Bumgarner

When Jimmy Fallon tussled Donald Trump’s hair in 2016, it marked the fall of a late night ratings empire that everyone expected to last for decades. This example of “Falloning” was one of many during the course of the 2016 campaign. It took a lot longer than it should have for people to take Trump, the demagogue, seriously.

Flash forward to 2017, and we live in a weird world where Stephen Colbert is now the late night campaign. Apparently it comes from time-shifting viewers, but still.

With the rise of Colbert Nation in the wake of Trumplandia, it raises some interesting questions. I know, at least from personal experience, that I only watch The Late Show for the monologue. It’s nice to have a place one a day where you get help processing how insane recent events have been. Colbert’s monologue serves a great purpose for American society as a whole and should Trumplandia prosper for a full eight years, it could produce some pretty high ratings for Colbert for years to come.

As I have mentioned before, comedians are at the forefront of American civil society’s reaction to Trumplandia. That, right now at least, is the primary method through which we process the existence of Trumplandia in the first place.

Some observers, however, see the rise of Colbert Nation — and similar popular anti-Trumplandia comics — to have a dark side. They think by being “too mean” to Trump, it causes people who are conservative, but not Trump supporters, to make the conscious decision to throw their lot in with Trump. I don’t know how much to read into this to be true.

Trumplandia is such a cancer on American civil society, that there has to be a point when eventually such arguments will be see as bullshit. It doesn’t work being nice to Trumplandia, to normalize it and they definitely don’t mind people being assholes, so why can’t we give them a taste of their own medicine?

A lot of this has to do with how “serious” commentators simply don’t know what to do with Trumplandia. They want things to go back to the way they were. Vanity Fair, for instance, at one point all but begged the ratings gods to make Jimmy Fallon number 1 again. This revolution caused by the rise of Trumplandia is something we’re going to have to get used to.

What will be interesting to see is what happens should the Tsar-a-Largo scandal grind on for years and finally produce some sort of result that no one can deny. (Yes, that may still be possible despite tribal politics.) When will we run out of jokes and begin to take Trump a lot more seriously than we have in days past.

I think give the earnest edge of Colbert’s monologue we’re about reaching that point. It seems as though people are beginning to wake up to how serious all of this is and soon enough we’ll stop laughing and get down to the serious business of The Resistance.