How Comedy Turned Serious
A funny thing happened on the way to the election—politics and comedy swapped roles
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2008 7:53 AM CST

(Newser) – Politics and comedy are trading places, Lee Siegel writes in the Wall Street Journal, as the antics of politicians get more outlandish and comics are increasingly the people speaking truth to power. Fake newsmen like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, with their stern commentary, lean more towards the "dark, piercing and wise" humor of Mark Twain than simple belly laughs, Seigel writes.

"The catharsis comes not from the comedy," he writes, "but from the feeling that reality is being called on the carpet, made to stand stiff with attention, and thoroughly reprimanded like a naughty schoolboy." The likes of Stewart and Colbert are slowly assuming the role once played by court jesters. "Now that unrestrained pubic behavior seems to have become conventional, it is no wonder that it has fallen to the comedians to seriously puncture the new antic norm."