Stephen Colbert is one of the funniest men on television. His humor is complex. You have to sit back and listen and think. Republicans aren’t so good at thinking. At least, they’re not so good at thinking about humor. One of the best examples of Colbert’s ability to focus on a problem through satirical humor would be his interview with Representative Lynn Westmoreland. Representative Westmoreland introduced a bill into the House of Representatives to place the 10 Commandments on every major government building in the United States. Stephen Colbert interviewed Representative Westmoreland and asked him to name all 10 Commandments. You would figure that this would be an easy question for someone who is promoting such a bill. The representative only got three out of the 10 Commandments. Isn’t three out of 10 an F? The interview is funny and illuminating. (I haven’t looked to see if he’s been reelected. The good people of Georgia really deserve someone much better.)
Colbert took on Representative Bill Posey of Florida. This is the guy who introduced the bill which would have required all presidential candidates to prove where they were born. Watch the following video:
It turns out that a new study shows that many Republicans do not understand or get Colbert’s humor. They think he’s serious. I guess this really isn’t surprising. It’s kind of sad, really.
Last week, Stephen Colbert revisited a segment he had done on Florida Representative Bill Posey, who sponsored a bill that “would require future presidential candidates to provide a copy of their original birth certificate,” in order to put insane rumors of President Barack Obama’s birthplace to bed.
Colbert thought a similar measure should be taken to end the whisperings that Posey was a human-alligator hybrid. Posey, in response to Colbert, said, “I expected there would be some civil debate about it, but it wasn’t civil…There is no reason to say that I’m the illegitimate grandson of an alligator.” And one wondered, “Does Posey not realize that Colbert is not speaking in earnest? His reaction seems uniquely stupid!”
Stupid, yes. But apparently it’s not unique at all, according to a study from The Ohio State University, which proves, with math and stuff, that lots of conservatives seem to not understand the intrinsic, underlying joke of The Colbert Report:
This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert’s political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism. Finally, a post hoc analysis revealed that perceptions of Colbert’s political opinions fully mediated the relationship between political ideology and individual-level opinion. (more… )