Finding good satire is increasingly difficult these days. Thankfully, I’ve found some excellent American satire which ranks up there with the likes of This Hour Has 22 Minutes and The Newsroom. Surprisingly, this show, called The O’Reilly Factor, is produced in the States.
The O’Reilly Factor comes off as a cross between This Hour Has 22 Minutes and The Newsroom. Bill O’Reilly plays himself, if in name only, and can best be compared to the character of Jim Walcott, the dim-witted anchor in The Newsroom. The dialogue is excellent and sounds as if it is unscripted. Each episode comes across with the feel of a real political opinion show. And the guests! These guys manage to get the best people to come in and play along. A couple of weeks ago, The O’Reilly Factor brought in our very own Consul General, Pamela Wallin. Here is a sample of the excellent, natural dialogue:
O’REILLY: Look at Chretien. Look at your leader!
O’REILLY: Your leader is as left wing as they come.
WALLIN: We’ve been through conservative governments, left liberal governments…
O’REILLY: Look at your leader.
O’REILLY: He was elected. Chretien was elected. He’s as left as they come. He’s more left than Hillary Clinton.
O’REILLY: I’ll give you the last word, but the facts speak for themselves. You’re looking at a man here who’s a quasi-socialist. You elected him. He’s the problem because this country is going further to the right.
Another excellent show aired last week when the show brought in Jeremy Glick, a signatory of the Not in Our Name ad, whose father died in the 9/11 attacks. I thought it went a little too far, but the show successfully satired the unwillingness of the American news media to debate the issues surrounding 9/11. This episode, which I somehow managed to miss when it appeared on Tom Tomorrow’s weblog, introduced me to the satirical genius that is the The O’Reilly Factor. You really need to read the transcript to appreciate that show, but here’s an excerpt:
O’REILLY: All right. You didn’t support the action against Afghanistan to remove the Taliban. You were against it, OK.
GLICK: Why would I want to brutalize and further punish the people in Afghanistan…
O’REILLY: Who killed your father!
GLICK: The people in Afghanistan…
O’REILLY: Who killed your father.
GLICK: … didn’t kill my father.
O’REILLY: Sure they did. The al Qaeda people were trained there.
GLICK: The al Qaeda people? What about the Afghan people?
O’REILLY: See, I’m more angry about it than you are!
You wacky Americans really crack me up. Keep on producing that quality entertainment, guys! I am really looking forward to your new reality show. I think its working title is The War on Iraq, but I’m sure that will change to something like Operation: Iraqi Freedom.
Update (2003/03/18): Much to my surprise, the unofficial name for the impending war in Iraq is indeed “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. This decision has garnered hundreds of hits for this page, which is the only result for a search for “operation iraqi freedom”. I am embarrassed for the current US administration.