March 1st, 2009
Gosh, the New York Times investigative reporter critic Alessandra Stanley has her finger on comedy's pulse.
1) Ms. Stanley isn't afraid to point out the elephant in the room. The New York Times TV reporter reveals that most of the late-night comedy talk show hosts in the evening are (drum roll...) of the Caucasian male species! There are eleven to be exact, although Ms. Stanley skipped out on delivering any numbers, because statistics can be confused with facts. I stand corrected, there are 11.5 white, male hosts if you count Andy Richter as Conan's sidekick, who is certainly smart and funny enough to host his own show.
The male comic hosts are (in no particular order):
2) Alessandra Stanley deconstructs what it is a television talk-show host does. In her own words, she says, "Each night a network talk show repeats a ritual of civility that is both intimately familiar and a total fantasy."
Does Ms. Stanley mean that Conan O'Brien's recurring sketch characters like "The Masturbating Bear" and "Triumph the Insult Dog" are rituals in civility? These sketches, in my opinion, can be incredibly funny, but I am curious how Ms. Stanley determined that most American's fantasies include humans dressed as sexually promiscuous woodland creatures in vegan-friendly costumes.
3) Ms. Stanley then explains that Americans don't value diversity and writes, "Audiences don't reward it or need it." How many Americans actually sat down with Les Moonves or Ben Silverman to decide who stars on what shows? They, as in we, watch based on what is presented.
And to say Americans feel more comfortable without any change in the status quo, goes against what's happening when people do have a say. Since you've been so consumed with the nail-biting issue of whether Jimmy Fallon knows the difference between the interweb and the TV, let me fill you in.... A recent national election occurred and people, an overwhelming number of whom identify as caucasians, chose a candidate who himself embodies diversity, and, more over, campaigned on a platform that his administration would make issues pertaining to diversity a priority.
4) Ms. Stanley forgot to include that there are non-white male hosts of their own TV shows. There is comedian Chelsea Handler, who according to most Americans, is a female, and Byron Allen, who according to a fewer number of Americans, is African-American. If she better defined what she meant by a "late-night talk show," Ms. Stanley's article might not have been s confusing. Like Ms. Stanley mentioned how Arsenio Hall once hosted a late-night comedy variety show, which is true, but Ms. Stanley also stated that Dave Chapelle did as well, which is not true. Mr. Chapelle's show was a scripted sketch show. It was funny and he is black.
5) I love that The New York Times is finally covering comedy more, pardon any potential pun, seriously, but could you do so more carefully? Is your point that comedy on TV predominantly features white males (true) or that Americans prefer late-night talk-show hosts who are white males?
It does feel, at least to this one American, that you could work better not harder. As an underemployed writer and an unknown, faux, therapy-lite talk show host, I can relate. What I can't relate to is categorizing the article you wrote under journalism.