Full disclosure: I’ve never been the biggest fan of Stephen Coal-bert. His caricature of a right-wing television personality on Comedy Central may have had its charms in the beginning, but his whole “truthiness” shtick wore out its welcome pretty fast—much like the Unknown Comic, only there was no bag over his head or a gong to make him go away.
Then CBS hired him to do The Late Show, replacing the acerbic, aging, Republican-hating David Letterman with what the network suits thought was a younger, hipper version of the same guy. Of course, by that time Letterman had already done his level best to diss almost everybody in Red State America—so by bringing Coal-bert on board, CBS pretty much sealed the deal, in effect telling the folks between the coasts that they could go screw themselves. Edgy was the new funny, even if the hijinks didn’t come with too many laughs.
Well, as it turns out, edgy doesn’t come with too many smarts, either. For a guy who made his bones riffing on politics, Coal-bert doesn’t seem to know a whole lot about the butt of his jokes. Here’s a case in point, hot off the presses at Mediaite. Long story short, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg—whom I have read extensively for years—was just on Fox News and made a crack about a certain high-profile lawyer who works for Donald Trump. “I am sure,” Goldberg said, “that Rudy Giuliani spends big chunks of his days chain-smoking cigarettes, white-knuckling it, just hoping another tweet doesn’t show up.”
Giuliani, meanwhile, didn’t think much of that remark, and immediately responded on Twitter:
From here, I’m guessing that the writer’s room at The Late Show caught wind of the exchange, thinking to themselves, “Oooh! Republican cat fight!” and that it would be perfect for Coal-bert’s monologue that night. Only problem? They know zip about who’s who in the world of conservative punditry, as was made painfully obvious by Coal-bert‘s observational humor.
Let’s just say that it wasn’t exactly Jerry Seinfeld:
“Even Trump’s allies are worried about how his lawyers are dealing with the tweet storm,” Colbert said. “Just ask conservative columnist and guy at a magic convention inviting you back to his hotel room, Jonah Goldberg.”
Okay, first things first—no way, no how is Jonah Freekin’ Goldberg the guy at the magic convention hitting up girls at the bar. He’d be more like Spaulding Smails in that scene from Caddyshack where he’s stealing everybody’s leftover drinks. Secondly, since when is Jonah is a Trump ally? Did the pods come down from space and replace him with an alien replica? Or did Trump’s people blackmail him after the NSA discovered the fake account Jonah uses to order Bigfoot erotica off Amazon Prime? Seriously, guys—if you’re gonna be writing jokes about this stuff, it helps to know at least something about your subject.
Which brings us back to Coal-bert himself. For a guy who fancies himself the clown prince of political humor in the Age of Trump, he doesn’t come off as very informed—and that, friends and neighbors, is why you should never, never, take your political cues from celebrities. Most of the time, they have about as much intellectual heft as those poor souls in the Campus Reform videos trying to explain out how we’re supposed to pay for Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All, or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s free college tuition.
Then again, Coal-bert could try picking up a book from time to time. I hear Jonah Goldberg even has a few available—and they’re not even in the Bigfoot erotica section.