Last night the US cable TV channel, Comedy Central, hosted a program called Night of Too Many Stars–An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education. I have two different friends who have sons with autism, so I was especially glad to hear about the show.
Last night I visited Jen, my trashy TV friend (she is far from trashy, but she and I enjoy trashy TV together) We settled in and to watch this program that promised too many comic stars, all doing their thing and raising money at the same time.
Ugh. One after another, these white male comics appeared with their shoddy material that barely deserved a smile, let alone a laugh. Jerry Seinfield dusted off some material from his stand-up days in the 1990’s, and had to literally crawl around on the floor in order to get a response from the audience.
Where were the women comics??? The comics of colors?? Wanda Sykes–we needed you more than ever! Perhaps they came towards the end, but I couldn’t watch much more after the well-worn Martin Short had a bit with Broadway singer, Kristen Chenoweth (of Wicked fame and soon to appear in Running with Scissors!) She sang about five notes before Short decked her. Okay it was a mock stage punch, but still, he took a swing, she toppled to the floor, and he pranced about with his far from funny schtick.
Next came Stephen Cobert, with maybe the funniest bit of the night (and it wasn’t that funny) but he ends it with a gratuitous grope of the name-less sexy woman model holding a giant check.
I know that comedy must not always be politically correct to be funny and effective. But as comics we have a responsibility to say something of value, something insightful, especially these days when there is so much injustice, corruption and hypocrisy. Comedy may be our last hope in helping people see the ugliness around us.
Hopefully Comedy Central and these too many stars made some money for autism research, but with so many people tuned in, they failed to use their platform to make a point–any point.