Thursday, May 04, 2006

Speaking Truth to Power

I have just finished watching one of the most amazingly daring demonstrations of a true clown--the trickster unafraid to speak truth to power--Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Largely overlooked in reports on the event by the mainstream media, this thirty minutes is a stunning response to everyone who wonders why nobody's saying out loud what's so obvious to so many of us--that the Emperor has no clothes, and is actively stealing ours. It must be seen to be believed.

And just before watching it --or immediately after--you must also check out fellow UU blogger Philocrites' very insightful piece "Bush, Colbert, Lear and the Fool."

As a one-time "holy fool" I'll just add to Philocrites' comments with two quotations about the clown, the fool, the trickster:

"Why is it that fools always have the instinct to hunt out the unpleasant secrets of life, and the hardiness to mention them?" (Emily Eden)

"Jesters do oft prove prophets." (Shakespeare)

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Sotosoroto said...

Yes, but was it funny?

RevWik said...

Oh, yeah. Some of it was hysterically funny. But I think that that's really the wrong question.

That's why the point Philocrites makes--that Colbert was more Shakespearean fool than stand up comic--seems to me to be so right on the money. The fool's job is not necessarily to be funny. Think Charlie Chaplin in "City Lights"--poignant, powerful, an example of true clowning but not all laugh out loud funny.

It's the same thing here. Much of what Colbert said was so astute that it wasn't funny, because the things he was skewering aren't funny!

So some of it made me laugh so hard I cried, and some of it made me want to cry so much that I couldn't laugh. The hallmark of the true fool.