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January 26, 2007

Also Fueling A Backlash Against SNL? Not Being Funny

What's the laziest, ugliest, stupidest and least funny material produced by SNL in its 30 years of existence?



Also Bleh

I would write more about this, but I might break my keyboard with my angry typing.

Posted at January 26, 2007 01:48 PM | TrackBack

Seth Meyers: Hey, DP -- any new jokes for Update tonight?

Me: Yeah. I jotted down a few. How 'bout this: "Israeli officials today expressed concern that global anti-Semitism might be on the rise. Also fueling anti-Semitism? Apartheid."

Meyers: Ha! Not bad. Let's get that down to cards.

Me: Cool.

Amy Poehler: I don't get it.

Meyers & Me: SHUT UP.

Posted by: Dennis Perrin at January 26, 2007 02:22 PM


I thank you, and my keyboard thanks you.

And there's more to say. For instance...wait, no, still not able to do so without breaking my computer.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at January 26, 2007 02:31 PM

"Also creating a climate of anti-Americanism? Killing 700,000 people for no fucking reason whatsoever."

Posted by: James Cape at January 26, 2007 02:52 PM

That figure from the Lancet Study is widely known to be incorrect and has been thoroughly debunked because it is too high.

Posted by: Justin at January 26, 2007 05:54 PM

I don't think this is half as bad as their making fun of peace activists and UN members sceptical of Powell during the buildup to the Iraq invasion.... I'd love to see those bits on youtube...

Posted by: sam husseini at January 26, 2007 06:15 PM


Attempts to discredit the Lancet study are widely known to be work of the innumerate, Bush-lovin' fuckwads whose efforts have been thoroughly debunked by people who have the first idea what they're talking about.

Posted by: RobW at January 26, 2007 07:46 PM

Oh my... I picture the "humor corner" in Hell.
Sitting there are Richard Cohen and Seth Meyers.

I love the comment: "It's funny 'cause it's true."

Yeah, that really gets to the essence of comedy.

2+2=5: not funny!
2+2=4: hahahahahahaha!

Or take that story about the 650,000 dead Iraqis. Now that is freakin' hilarious! Why? Because it's true!
Does anything get funnier than that?! Wait to see how SNL milks that one once they read this comment.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 26, 2007 08:32 PM

dear justin

any number above zero is too high. anything beyond that is just nitpicking.

the peace loving people of the world

Posted by: almostinfamous at January 26, 2007 09:28 PM

Aw, why not make fun of all--CAIR, AIPAC, Christian fundamentalists, right-wing idiots, left-wing illusionists, Zionist supremacists, Islamic jihadists, the whole lot. Ain't they all victims? We're all victims, 'cept of course the few ruling WASP Yalies, whom we do (and should) make fun of. The others scream victimhood, about every imagined slight, from Muslim taxi drivers to Jewish survivors of Westchester County discrimination. Such a pile of horseshit. Let the funny stuff fall where the comedians drop it. Laugh, or don't laugh. But why make exemptions?
If Philip Roth published his hilarious description of an ostentatious Bar Mitzvah today, Dershowitz would demand the book be shredded. To hell with him, with AIPAC and with CAIR.
More Twain and Mencken. You don't like it, sulk or write a letter. You don't think it's funny, go read Twain, Benchley, Leacock, Thurber.

Posted by: donescobar at January 26, 2007 10:40 PM

in essence it's not funny because it facilitates further depravity more than it exposes depravity.

Posted by: sam husseini at January 26, 2007 10:53 PM

Johnathan. Why don't you guys start doing your own comedy sketches and put them up on the internet? You guys would probably generate as much traffic as the daily show, and your humorous take on current events would bubble outward through society.

Seriously. You and Dennis and so many others could just do it. What are you waiting for? Permission from Lorne. They guy is lunchmeat. He has a no talent staff and is completely unwilling to take risks. The new media is yours for the taking.

Posted by: patience at January 27, 2007 12:31 AM

Almost and RobW,
You guys are loony if you think that study is accurate. Gregg Easterbrook had an excellent article on that debunked it.

Specifically, Easterbrook explained why it was "silly": I suspect one reason the Iraq death toll elicits so little concern is that exaggerated estimates exist. Americans can say of the exaggerated estimates, "Oh, that's way too high" and skip over thinking about the more probable numbers. The latest silly estimate comes from a new study in the British medical journal Lancet

The logic is pretty straightforward, when most Americans see that number they think it is "way too high." Case closed.

But GE does not stop there, he continues piling on with an excellent explanation about why the study is rubbish, "The study uses extremely loose methods of estimation, including attributing about half its total to "unknown causes." The study also commits the logical offense of multiplying a series of estimates, then treating the result as precise. White House officials have dismissed the Lancet study, and they should. It's gibberish.

3 air tight refutations here,
1.) Loose methods of estimation
2.) Statistical extrapolation presented as accuracy (see also the number of Americans without health care.)
3.) Ok, maybe he went overboard with the precision thing since that wasn't what the study claimed and yeah his explanation of "unknown causes" is nothing less than dishonest. But, White House officials have dismissed it as gibberish and that more than cancels out those two objections.


Posted by: justin at January 27, 2007 09:25 AM

Justin: even you can do better than that.

1. Bush accepted the conclusions of a similar study based on the same methods performed by the same lead author (pop quiz: which country?).
Same method was applied in 17 other countries and the results accepted by the community. What took you guys so long to criticize the methods?

2. Your "debunking" is written on ESPN (the obvious place for refuting the work of epidemiologists!) by a sloppy journalist much more at home spewing out antisemitic drivel than addressing scientific subjects.

Air tight refutations? Let's see...

1. Loose methods of estimation: it's a cohort-based active cluster sampling method. It is the state of the art in mortality surveys. If Easterbrook spent less time watching football and writing antisemitic columns and more time reading science books, he might actually know what that's about.

2. Statistical extrapolation presented as accurate: it was never presented as such. It's a Bell-ish distribution whose variance they estimate, and then confirm with bootstrapping. Again, take Stats 101 to know what it's about.

3. Unknown causes? What's that got to do with it? If I see a dead body, but I don't know what caused the death, I am not allowed to conclude that it's dead ??

Other notorious debunkers like Fred Kaplan have made fools of themselves. Kaplan objected to the assumption that Iraq's prewar mortality rate was lower than in the US. Takes 30 seconds to get to the CIA site and see that indeed it's the case. (Iraq is younger than the US. Anyone could have guessed that. In Jordan, mortality is about one third the US rate.)
Other debunkers include physicists and economists who know crap about the science and charged "mainstreet bias" without a clue of what they were talking about. Again, epidemiologists refuted the charges in a matter of seconds.

The thing is, any statistical study is vulnerable to error (bad luck). The authors admit the excess deaths could be lower than 200K (though extremely unlikely). Yes, there are weaknesses in the study (I know what they are and, obviously, you don't) and an intelligent criticism would have been healthy and welcome.

But no, in today's America, that's asking too much.
Instead we leave it to a football commentator to give us the scoop on a mortality study, assisted by shoot-from-the-hip journalists whose confidence grows in proportion to their cluelessnss.

Why is America so damn unserious?

Not everything in life is a joke, you know.

So, I say, put up or shut up.

Actually let me revise this:
I say, shut up or shut up.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 27, 2007 10:37 AM


I realize it's a little on the subtle side, but I believe Justin was joking. "Ok, maybe he went overboard with the precision thing since that wasn't what the study claimed and yeah his explanation of 'unknown causes' is nothing less than dishonest. But, White House officials have dismissed it as gibberish and that more than cancels out those two objections."

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at January 27, 2007 11:05 AM

The crap "debunking" lancet has always floored me. Their argument would lead you to toss out the Neilson ratings, most political polling as garbage science.

Posted by: Ed Marshall at January 27, 2007 11:42 AM

I don't know that Americans dismiss the Lancet nos. as ridiculous, but what do people think they can do about it besides vote? And they did vote the GOP out of the majority, although I can't imagine it will make that much difference. Naturally, I hope I might be wrong.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at January 27, 2007 12:38 PM

I missed the joke. My bad.
Sorry, Justin. My apology.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 27, 2007 06:55 PM

Geez, sorry Justin, my apology.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 27, 2007 06:57 PM

Now they show up!!
(My first comment disappeared. Is that a feature? That apologies have to appear twice before they're accepted)

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 27, 2007 07:10 PM

Here’s Frank Zappa with a timely reminder that “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing�
from back when SNL was good:

Posted by: Jay Hawkers at January 27, 2007 08:08 PM

dear justin

the lancet study by itself does not make the iraq war tragic, illegal and completely unnecessary(among many other, much worse adjectives). the iraq war was all those things right from the start(and even when it was a twinkle in the eye of deadeye dick). hence my statement that any number above zero is too much.

the peace-loving, statistically-aware people of the world

Posted by: almostinfamous at January 27, 2007 08:25 PM

Grrrrrr - goddamn stupid sub-standard irony-dar.

Posted by: RobW at January 27, 2007 09:48 PM

No problem, my apologies for thinking I could get in on the humor... not that there is much funny about it. The answer to your pop quiz is the Congo.

I figured the sarcasm would be self evident...

Posted by: Justin at January 27, 2007 10:57 PM

If I'd read more carefully... yes, your sarcasm is obvious. But I skipped right over it. Sorry.

In my defense, I've spent countless hours defending Les Roberts's work in many venues where I've encountered not just incomprehension but dishonesty. People simply don't want to know. As I said, the study is far from perfect (though, under the circumstances, I challenge anyone to do a better job) but the criticism has been ideological. It's like fighting the Spanish Inquisition.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 28, 2007 12:31 AM

Saturday Night Live has been remarkably un-funny for the last half year, at least. Just because the players can pause for 3 seconds (waiting for the audience to "get it", and be prompted to laugh and applause by the floor director) before the token smirk does not an adequate punchline make. They're increasingly like Letterman, who's the first to laugh at his "funny"?, all the while knowing it's painfully lame. To Letterman's credit, though, he does four or five shows a week. As to whether fifty thousand, or five hundred thousand Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invasion 4 years ago; It's comforting to know that, for some, the threshold for slaughtering innocent civilians is sufficiently high enough for their comfortable acceptance.

Posted by: Johndous at January 28, 2007 11:13 PM