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July 2013

Dear Comedy Central: At Some Point You're Gonna Be Funny, Right?

Is there a point where Comedy Central starts being funny, aside from Daily Show and Colbert? For that matter... when exactly is comedy going to start being funny again?

Daily Show and Colbert Report are funny as hell, folks. I enjoy them, personally and professionally, particularly when they throw spitballs at idiots in the news. John Oliver, currently standing in for Jon Stewart, had me giggling and nodding when he pointed out the idiocy of having TV news reporters cover the bankruptcy in Detroit from Chicago.

"Oh, you'll embed reporters and have them take gunfire in war zones all over the world. You've had them tear-gassed during protests. You've forced them to take 200 mph winds to the face during storms, but apparently having them stand on a corner in downtown Detroit is just too dangerous an assignment," he says.

That's funny. And... POINT.

However, if were not for Daily Show and Colbert, I swear I'd just block the whole freaking channel. When did comedy metamorphose into "puerile adolescent boy jokes"? Did The Hangover do so well that we've just decided to aim for the crotch forever?

A recent Comedy Central ad for a lineup of comedians showed attractive people on stage with a mike and a voiceover telling us how all these comedians, including John Oliver, were bringing "their A game." Cut to one of the comedians, and it's time for a joke! The single joke of the commercial, the one that will be funny enough for us to come watch the special!

"Women are stupid!"

That's it. That's the joke. The whole joke. Laugh track, on to the next commercial.

Seriously? That was supposed to make me want to watch that special? I rewound it twice just to make sure I hadn't missed a punch line. So to speak. Even if you are a misogynistic asshole convinced that women ARE stupid, which seems to be the primary demographic for Comedy Central... how was that "joke" funny enough to draw you in? I know that "dying is easy, comedy is hard." But surely we can do better than this?

Not that I would ever advocate censorship - I'm a much bigger fan of letting our dollars do the talking - but it's worth pointing out that the government of India suspended Comedy Central's broadcasts for 10 days in May, citing its overt misogyny. No word on which of the numerous examples of misogyny finally tipped the bucket. I guess India is just too sensitive, eh? And if you're into the sociological issues at play in male-dominated comedy, someone smart dug into it here.

Look, I'm not the prime target audience. I get that. Most comedy movies stopped being funny for me about the time the romantic comedy (already a pretty shallow well) was replaced with angry frat-boy toilet humor (see: anything Adam Sandler has done since The Wedding Singer). Instead of When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, Groundhog Day or even the teen surpriser 10 Things I Hate About You, we have grown men pissing on themselves in a pool. Someone tell me what happened there, because I get more of a laugh out of a frustrated growl from Worf on Star Trek than an entire trailer for the latest Hangover movie.

And just so you don't dismiss this as yet another angry-feminist rant, I tried Bridesmaids. Instead of grown men pissing in a pool, we have grown women spurting diarrhea on bridesmaid gowns. "What's most profoundly wrong is the terrible, mean-spirited scripts that are getting made, that are making people feel justified in using 'rom-com' as an eye-rolling insult, and we've got to stop that first," writes NPR's Linda Holmes in, "Are Romantic Comedies Dead?"

Cut to Tosh.0, who was already on my hell-no list for his fondness for rape jokes, even suggesting his audience gang-rape a woman who failed to find him hilarious. Here's the "joke" for his latest special:

"Ellen Page has said that sexism in Hollywood is constant. Of course, Ellen is best known as the actress in Juno, where she played the mouthy girl with no tits."

Well, I guess that proves Page is completely wrong about sexism in Hollywood.