Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cohen May Have Been Right About Dr. Colbert

Big Ink links to the transcript of Stephen Colbert's commencement speech at Knox College, Illinois. And I think Richard Cohen had him pegged. He is not at all funny.

First, I'd just like to say that, when I was a six-month-old baby, I nearly died in a car accident because my mom was holding me on her lap. (The fireman at the scene said I wasn't breathing, and I developed a huge lump on top of my head for a while. I have a theory about why I didn't die: the head trauma caused brain edema, which, if severe enough can push the brain down through the foramen magnum - the hole at the base where the stem meets the spine - paralyzing or killing a person. Because of my age, my fontanelle gave the swelling someplace to go until it subsided).

So I don't find his remarks about coddling children with car seats the least bit funny.

Second, his remarks - "They said that I had an overdue library fine and they wouldn't give [my diploma] to me again" - reminded me of another story:

When I was in college, just a few weeks before graduation, I got a message on my answering machine from the school library telling me that I had some overdue books and fines which needed to be paid, or I might not receive my diploma. My courses weren't book-intensive, and I generally only went to the library to sit amongst the stacks and peruse books for leisure-time, not checking anything out, so I was furiously racking my brain about it. Did I lose my card, is it a mistake, did I check out a book two years previously?

So I rushed to the library in great agitation to ask about it, and was told that they knew nothing about it, which was a relief, though perplexing.

Later that week, I was telling a couple of friends about it, and one started laughing. She had cranked me, and was amazed at how thoroughly successful it had been.

Again, that part of the speech ... not funny at all.

Third, he ends on a positive note. Quite literally. And I don't know how responsible it was to tell young people to "Just Say Yes" when we all know we're supposed to "Just Say No." He's just going to undo twenty years of a successful anti-drug campaign slogan.

Really, not funny.

[update: my husband, who knows me pretty well, didn't quite know how to take this post. To clarify, when I say that Colbert's speech is not funny, I mean that it's funny.]

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