PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Featured: Top of Home Page

Sorry, folks, but FNC's new comedy show just isn't funny

Neal Justin
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

I'm a left-leaning, commie-lovin' pinko.

That's the conclusion some of you will immediately rush to when I tell you that "The ½ Hour News Hour," Fox News Channel's attempt at political satire, is an elephant-size bore.

Truth is, I like a good Howard Dean joke as much as the next dittohead. Too bad "Hour" doesn't have one.

The first episode, which premiered two weeks ago and is followed by a fresh edition tonight, opened in an Oval Office set with none other than the real Rush Limbaugh behind the desk. After a few minutes, he introduces the new vice president - a stiff Ann Coulter, who looks like she just walked into an ACLU pep rally. Surprisingly, Coulter gets off the only self-deprecating line of the evening when she tells viewers to stay tuned for the show or "we'll invade your country and convert everyone to Christianity."

At least I think she was self-deprecating. I had to wonder as the show unfolded with one anti-liberal jab after another - all laced with venom and vengeance, none with the slightest sign of a wink.

Among the jokes: Barack Obama's nickname in college was "Gassy." Hillary Clinton promises to fill her future cabinet with angry lesbians. Cindy Sheehan goes on a cross-country shooting spree. Harry Potter's next adventure has him coming out of the closet. Ed Begley Jr. can't get to the studio because his hybrid car breaks down.

Ed Begley Jr.? Really?

The "zingers" are read by the bland duo of Kurt Long and Jenn Robertson, who both have the good sense to use fake names on the air, performing flatly from a set that looks remarkably like the one built by their seemingly mortal enemy, "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."

A couple of guests tried to enliven the atmosphere with mixed results. Longtime stand-up comedian Don Irrera played a T-shirt salesman who specializes in merchandise featuring the faces of famous dictators, leaving the stoic "journalists" to explain who each of them are and sucking any potential humor out of the skit with each history lesson. Why such a menial character would earn a seat next to news anchors to begin with is never really explained.

Jonathan Magnum appeared in a slightly better skit as a game-show host/climatologist who claims he can link global warming to any problem in the world. His unbridled enthusiasm almost sold the bit until it concluded with a tired punch line about Britney Spears' underwear or lack thereof.

These sophomoric efforts at least distract us from the show's primary theme, which is to strike back at Bush bashers and defend the values of the good ol' U.S. of A.

It should come as no surprise that the show is the brainchild of Joel Surnow, the creator of "24," which shares an us-against-the-world attitude. At least "24" does it with clever twists and the brilliant comedy stylings of star Keifer Sutherland, who makes me snicker every time he screams his dialogue.

I can understand where Surnow is coming from, especially after watching Stephen Colbert's bombastic impression of Bill O'Reilly score big in Hollywood and Washington, and Jon Stewart's Democratic colors getting brighter with each Emmy-winning season.

And there's certainly an appetite for some conservative-friendly humor - nearly 1.5 million viewers tuned in for the first episode.

But if Fox News wants to take liberals down a few pegs, they should cancel "Hour" immediately and give more time to Geraldo Rivera.

Now that's comedy.



10 p.m. EST Sunday

Fox News Channel

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.