Thursday, January 3, 2008

WGA-made comedy is funnier

By Terrie Albano

NBC’s boy Jay Leno crossed the electronic picketline tonight. Scab! On the other station, CBS, David Letterman proved that union-written comedy is superior. Hands down, Letterman was funnier.

Leno started out with the offensive “A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian went into a bar….we don’t know what happened because there is a writer’s strike.” A union writer wouldn’t write such garbage.

Leno went on taking cheap shots at workers showing the light guy in an undershirt with his belly hanging over his knees turning on the flashlight. The prop manager as a mass ax murderer and the women in the “office” as hookers. Really funny, scab chin.

Then he showed the writers negotiating with the producers and on comes a clip of a ridiculous scene in Korea…again ha, ha, “scab chin.”

Leno rationalized why he had to cross the picketline. “We still support the writers,” he whined, “but we can’t let 19 people keep 160 out of work.” Boo hoo, scab chin.

Letterman, whose show settled with their Writers Guild of America members, was unbelievable. In front of millions, his opening and Top Ten List (which included striking writers and the picket captain from the Letterman show) was a mini-lesson in class-struggle trade unionism. And it was hilarious to boot.

After his monologue, where Letterman thanked the Writers Guild of America for working so hard to come to an agreement, he took questions from the audience. “Was there any producer-backed violence on the picketline?” asked one volunteer as some thug gave Alan, Letterman’s announcer, a beating.

In the middle of Letterman showing a make-believe electric heated pair of underwear, the picketline captain/writer of Late Night comes out, introduces himself, and then goes on a two minute, jaw-dropping, spiel about the “greedy producers” and writers are still on strike. Then on comes a graphic and announcer’s voice “brought to you by the
Writers Guild of America.”

Ten different writers (and writer/director Nora Ephron) from a number of shows like the Daily Show, Colbert Report and Law and Order Criminal Intent read the Top Ten list: “The Top Ten Demands of the Writers Strike.”

10. "Complimentary tote bag with next insulting contract offer" - Tim Carvell from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"

9. "No rollbacks in health benefits, so I can treat the hypothermia I caught on the picket lines" - Laura Krafft from "The Colbert Report"

8. "Full salary and benefits for my imaginary writing partner, Lester" - daytime television writer Melissa Salmons

7. "Members of the AMPTP must explain what the hell AMPTP stands for" - Warren Leight from "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"

6. "No disciplinary action taken against any writer caught having inappropriate relationship with a copier" - Jay Katsir from "The Colbert Report"

5. "I'd like a date with a woman" - Steve Bodow from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

4. "Hazard pay for breaking up fights on 'The View'" - writer and director Nora Ephron

3. "I'm no accountant, but instead of us getting 4 cents for a $20 DVD, how about we get $20 for a 4-cent DVD?" - Gina Johnfrido from "Law & Order"

2. "I don't have a joke -- I just want to remind everyone that we're on strike, so none of us are responsible for this lame list" - Chris Albers from "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"

And my personal favorite was:

1. "Producers must immediately remove their heads from their a----" - Thurber Award-winning author Alan Zwiebel

Robin Williams was Letterman’s guest and in great comedic form coming from his USO tour in Iraq and Afghanistan … and from the WGA’s picketlines as well. Williams is a good liberal supporting all sorts of progressive causes. Thanks to Robin for his performance with Dave because I haven’t had a belly laugh like that in a looong time.

The opening hour was a lesson to millions about strike support and union solidarity.

On the other hand, true to scab form, Leno has Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on his show. Seemed fitting since Republican politicians never met a picketline they didn’t want to cross. I wonder what the Machinists union thinks about their Republican endorsee now?

The writers were forced out on strike by The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the profit interests of media and entertainment industry conglomerates. Even though the major studios and networks made $95 billion last year alone, the AMPTP is refusing to offer decent royalties on “new media” – meaning downloads, digital broadcasting and the sort.

The overwhelming majority of the public is sympathetic with the writers and their demands.

I hope Jon Stewart, who reportedly is going back on the air Jan. 7, takes a lesson from Leno’s pitiful performance tonight. Scab comedy sucks.

1 comment:

Joel said...

According to the AFL-CIO's blog:

Tom Buffenbarger, president of the Machinists, had this to say:

"Governor Huckabee should not cross the picket line. We have made that abundantly clear to his campaign. With such missteps, he risks losing the support his jobs and economic policies have won for him among trade unionists who will attend the GOP caucuses in Iowa or will vote in the later primaries."