Saturday, 3 October 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #385 / On Comedy: If You Dish It Out, Be Prepared To Take It Too

Welcome to the show folks...

Comedian Jeffrey Ross, the man other comedians call the Roastmaster General, because of his skill at skewering people's foibles said that the first and most important thing a comedian needs to have is
a really thick skin.

We're going to see just how thick or thin David Letterman's skin really is.

In case you've been living in a cave for the past few days, the host of CBS's The Late Show helped authorities catch a rogue CBS News producer who was attempting to blackmail David Letterman over his inappropriate relationships with his employees. Letterman came as clean as he could, confessing on the air to his peccadilloes, and already some folks are making jokes about it. But that's not the end of it, because some people are criticizing those folks for picking on poor Letterman.


If the shoe was on the other foot, and it was discovered that another TV show host was having dipping his pen in the company ink, so to speak, he'd be all over it like Harvey Weinstein on an Academy Award. If that person was someone that Letterman had some personal or political beef against, he'd keep dancing along that theme, long after the story and those involved passed into irrelevance.

Letterman made his name by needling the rich and the famous as if his Midwestern origins made him somehow apart and above all of them. This was especially true of celebrities or politicians that he didn't like, and he would assume a stance of smug moralistic condescension as he skewered them, and if they complained, he'd accuse them of being whiners who can't take a joke.

Now it's Dave's turn to see if
he can take a joke.

I don't think the seriousness of the situation has fully sunk in with Letterman, and his defenders, and I think he needs to hear a cautionary tale about a man who was in a similar situation.

The man in question was a British comedian and actor named Angus Deayton.

Deayton achieved massive success as the host of a BBC show called
Have I Got News For You. It was technically a game show where panels of so-called "experts" were quizzed about current events, but was more of a comedy show skewering the great and good for their moral lapses.

Deayton stood out particularly when it came to viciously satirizing the amoral decadence of politicians and celebrities in an outwardly suave and sophisticated package.

Then it happened...
The combination of hookers and blow can definitely saw out the legs on someone's moral high horse.

Deayton tried to go on with
Have I Got News For You, but had ended up becoming the target of his co-stars', comedian Paul Merton, and editor/libel magnet Ian Hislop, own scathing humour and was ultimately fired.

Now you're probably thinking something like:
But he's just a comedian, he's not a politician, or a religious leader, he shouldn't be held up as any sort of moral standard!

And the answer to that would be: He held himself up to be some sort of moral standard, and then tore himself down. So it's really his own fault that folks start pissing on the ashes.

Remember, like Letterman, his specialty was viciously going after people beset by scandals, now he was faced with those same people saying back at him:
I may have done something wrong, but at least it didn't involve hookers, blow, and a midget in a leather speedo.

So the next time Letterman makes a joke about someone cheating on their spouse, people won't be catching the punchline, but seeing a lecherous old multi-millionaire mocking others for what he apparently did on a regular basis, and with women he had power over.

How long before the sexual harassment suits start flying?

With his public admission the floodgates will open, because Letterman himself admitted to multiple acts of illicit sexual congress with employee
s, and that means plural. How many will come forward with stories of threats by Letterman to put out or lose their jobs, and CBS lawyers telling them to keep their mouths shut or face career and financial ruin?

It doesn't matter if such cases are true or not, the door is open, and it's only a matter of time before someone walks through it.

What will be the most telling is how Letterman himself handles this. So far his strategy is to handle it like he handles his extra-marital affairs, do everything on his own show, where he is in control, and hope that it inoculates the audience, and closes that door he left open along with his zipper. However, if he feels that he's losing control of the situation and in a petulant fit starts lashing out at those who make mock of his situation, then he's sunk.

Because then he'll become the whiner who can't take a joke that he's always saying his critics are.

Just to help Letterman learn how to take it, I'm going to dish it out a little, so here's...
Justify Full

10. Not only was it shocking that David Letterman was being blackmailed about sex, it was even more shocking to find out that Letterman was having sex worth being blackmailed over.

9. I guess his "Worldwide Pants" were down around his ankles.

8. Working on the Late Show really puts the ASS in production assistant.

7. Dave's trap for the blackmailer, the $2 million was in the form of a TV deal with NBC!

6. While having sex with assistants, Dave kept screaming out:
Oprah! Uma! Oprah! Uma!

5. We now know how Paul Schaffer got his job.

4. Dave's new assistant Monica Lewinsky!

3. Dave's assistants feel less screwed than the audience from that time he hosted the Oscars!

2. If you're working on the show and Dave asks if you want to see his "stupid pet trick" run!

1. Dave's new motivational slogan for his staff:
If you want to get ahead, you've got to give head.

I'm sure you folks can do better.

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