Politics and Comedy: a perfect match

Politics are a funny business for many reasons. But one thing’s for sure, the candidates aren’t usually career comedians.

That all began to change when Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” filed to open his very own Super PAC tagged as the “Americans for a better tomorrow, tomorrow.

If you don’t know what a Super PAC is, let me tell you that they are frightening. A Super PAC can accept undisclosed amounts of money from anonymous donors to spend on the political candidate of its choosing. And they only have one real rule: Don’t coordinate with candidates.

Does it seem sketchy yet? It gets worse.This primary season alone, Super PACs have spent $35 million on campaign ads, and they’re only getting started.

The fact that Colbert, a comedian, could own a Super PAC, only shows how ridiculous the system really is. And the “Colbert Super PAC” (yes, he named it after himself) has been serving as an object lesson to explain the hilarity of the system to his viewers.

Let me tell you that I am not usually a funny writer, but I don’t even have to try to make what happened next entertaining.

A poll published on Jan. 10 revealed that Stephen Colbert had a greater following than candidate Jon Huntsman (presumably causing Huntsman to withdraw his candidacy).

Another poll stated that Colbert had a higher favorability score (36 percent) than any GOP candidate.

A third estimated that Colbert would get 13 percent of the vote in a popular election against Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Three polls said Colbert had a better chance of becoming president than some actual presidential candidates.

So Colbert did the only sane thing a comedian in his position would do –  create an exploratory committee to look into running for office … as the president of South Carolina.

Colbert immediately signed his Super PAC over to best-friend, co-worker and co-owner of bagel- shop- meets- travel- agency “From Schmear to Eternity,” Jon Stewart.

The next week made for the most entertaining television, and best political satire, I have ever witnessed as Stewart and Colbert made sure not to break the only real rule governing candidates and their Super PACs: non-coordination.

They changed the name of the “Colbert Super PAC” to the “Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert Super PAC.”

Stewart re-hired Colbert’s Super PAC staff to run the Super PAC and labeled their staffs with red and blue shirts. So no one could be confused, the red team wore blue T-shirts with green letters and the blue team wore red shirts with yellow letters.

Colbert and Steward followed Newt Gingrich’s example as Colbert spoke to his Super PAC “as an individual” through a (cardboard) television statement on Stewart’s The Daily Show.

They called their lawyer Trevor Potter to make sure they were still following the rules while they  had a conversation about what ads were going to run in different South Carolina cities.

And it was all legal, no matter how ridiculous it became.

Sadly, the primary in South Carolina was a closed ballot. Which meant Colbert couldn’t get his own name on the ballot.

Then again, former candidate Herman Cain couldn’t get his name off of the ticket either.

So Colbert asked his followers to vote for Herman Cain to show their support of his potential campaign.

Cain even gave Colbert a ride to his “Rock me like a Herman Cain South Cain-olina Primary Rally” on his infamous tour bus. And Cain sang the Pokemon song he quoted in his farewell speech to the 3,500 attendees.

In the end, Stephen Colbert-Cain only received 1.1 percent of the vote in the South Carolina primary, which forced him to “re-suspend Herman Cain’s suspended campaign.” (Although, that 1 percent accounted for 6,324 votes, thousands more than Cain’s 45 votes in Iowa or 160 in New Hampshire.)

Regardless, Colbert never actually thought his fake bid for the presidency would work, no matter what the polls said, or how much some people wished it might.

But he managed to make his point during his Charleston, South Carolina rally very clear:

“The pundits have asked, ‘Is this all some joke?’ We’ve all heard it haven’t we?” he said. “If they are calling being allowed to form a Super PAC and collecting unlimited and untraceable amounts of money from individuals, unions and corporations; and spend that money on political ads and for personal enrichment; then surrender that Super PAC to one of my closest friends while I explore a run for office. If that is a joke, then they are saying our entire campaign finance system is a joke.”

The sad part is, Colbert wasn’t kidding. This is actually happening, candidates are toeing the line with their Super PACs and there’s very little the government can do to stop it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that funny at all.

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Crema – John Davey

John Davey of West Lafeyette, IN played “The Process” at Crema on Dec. 7, 2011.

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IWU gives disclaimer before ‘The Help’

The Globe Theatre doesn’t usually sell out a show, but on Nov. 18 and 19 each one of the 198 seats was filled for both showings of “The Help.”

“The Help” is the only movie at The Globe this semester with a PG-13 rating and joins “Tangled” as the only movies to sell out any showings in the last year.

It is set in 1960s-era Jackson, Miss., where African American housekeepers are struggling to survive in the midst of racially discriminatory Jim Crow laws. The movie follows one group of women who, even with all the pressures they were under, break all the rules to try to change their world.

Regardless of the redeeming aspects in “The Help,” there was some doubt that it would even be allowed in the Globe because of it’s “moderate” use of profane language.

In order to ensure that students weren’t offended by the obscenities, Rev. Dr. Kyle Huckins and Don Lawrence, director of Intercultural Student Services read a “disclaimer” at the beginning of each showing that warned students of the potentially offensive language and some difficult thematic elements.

“It’s wise to address issues of language in a film we’re going to show here,” Lawrence said. “We have students from all sorts of backgrounds, and we don’t want to take it for granted that students are just going to be OK with language. It may have caught a few students off-guard because there’s not usually a disclaimer out before, but I think it was the right way to go.”

Maggie Slusher (sr) said while she understood the reason for the disclaimer, it wasn’t absolutely necessary. “We are all adults,” she said. “A few bad words are not something that would catch us off guard.”

Chelsea Pickslay (sr) didn’t mind the unusual opening. “I think it kind of set the tone [for the movie],” she said. “I kind of came like, ‘OK, this is a good movie,’ but it’s so much more than that.”

Brittney Hilgemann (sr) saw the disclaimer differently.

“I didn’t feel like it was necessary. The movie set its own tone,” she said. “I kind of felt like it ruined it. I felt like a freshman again, being told ‘This is how you’re supposed to think.’ I’m going to learn what I’m going to learn, and I did. It was really good.”

“At first I was caught off-guard by the statement,” Slusher said. “But [then] several people in the theater laughed and I forgot all about it.”

Globe Theater Manager Lindsey Smart (jr) said she’s glad the theater showed the movie.

“It’s a movie that you always hear people laughing and crying, and rightfully so,” Smart said. “It’s funny and there’s issues that are going to be emotional, in a good way.”

According to Lawrence, the movie was a great opportunity for students to think about social issues and the importance of diversity.

[Movies like this] “create an environment that it’s OK to discuss and engage in matters that might, in other settings, be very awkward and difficult,” Lawrence said. “I heard students talking after the film saying, ‘Man, that film was so good. I had no idea things were like that.’”

“I think it would be easy to walk away from the movie and think, ‘That’s the past and everything is fine now,’” Pickslay said. “But this stuff still happens. This is something we still need to fight for.”

Hilgemann thought “The Help” was just going to be “another cute Emma Stone movie.”

“I didn’t even know it was going to be this powerful,” Hilgemann said. “I cried most of the movie.”

Due to the success of the show, Lawrence said he talked with Jim Taylor, student center manager, about playing “The Help” again, potentially next semester.

“I think students expect there to be more films like [‘The Help’],” Lawrence said, “films that will challenge them intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually. In fact, I think that’s what our films should be doing. I’m glad we showed it.”

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Crema – Luke Anspach

Luke Anspach and Josh Weaver play “Sandcastles” at Crema on Nov. 16, 2011.

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