Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Please Lighten Lawrence O'Donnell up

Published: Personally 2011-01-25

"Wit is the Spice of Conversation"

Attributed to Ben Franklin

Spice cannot replace the main part of the meal. I guess that is why cinnamon never made it to be a main course.
Red potatoes with Rosemary are always better than Red Potatoes without Rosemary; especially if Rosemary is doing the cooking...

Lawrence O'Donnell has moved into the spot occupied by The Keith (Olbermann). Lawrence seems to be a really nice guy. He appears to be a super-wonk. In a lot of ways it makes for a really good, high-content, full-of-meat show. It appears to be really filling.

Many serious minded people will like Lawrence because he is, well, one of them. Lawrence needs to attract more than just the serious minded folks. Many are nice people too, but there are a lot of us out here who cannot take hard news for an hour without release.

Many times good art is about tension and release; music, writing, drama, and yes, comedy (politics being a subset of comedy). Part of the problem with a lot of non-Right Wing Media is that they forget this is entertainment. It quickly can become an "Eat Your Peas" experience - all tension and no release.

Rachel Maddow handles this very well with Moments of Geek and mixing drinks on the air. Matthews is a looser guy to begin with and can get away with more.

The Keith had a number of devices he used to get the release. "Worst Person" worked really well until Jon Stewart included it his Rally for Sanity montages. Reading from Thurber was a cool idea, but got old after a while.

Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert work because they ARE the release from all the built up news media tension.

Lawrence O'Donnell does analysis and interviews very well, but this 8PM time slot needs some more entertainment. Maybe I am wrong, I don't get the sense that Lawrence is that loose.
You cannot be serious with issues that set your hair on fire all the time. You need a minute to let your hair grow back.

Asking Lawrence to do a 5 minute stand-up monologue with jokes is not going to make it. It is just not him. Having comedians of questionable quality appear for a set-up straight-man interview can be a painful experience. It would sap his credibility. Play to the man's strong suit and don't try to morph him.

How about going Retro for Lawrence? He is on MSNBC. The NBC part of this operation has a treasure trove of material that would make a great release. Intersperse old Saturday Night Live commercial parodies within the standard commercial set. Don't say anything about it, but right after the commercial for the investment firm, Dan Aykroyd appears with the Bass-O-Matic or Spud - the beer that made Boise famous. There are a ton of them to be placed on a rotation.

Exploit the long relationship Bob Hope had with the Peacock Network - the next night a Bob Hope clip about politics could appear. The old Mike Douglas Show was filmed at the Philly NBC affiliate, KYW. Access to that material would be a great way to move in and out of commercials.

It would not turn Lawrence into someone less serious than he is, but it allows the viewers the release that cleanses the mental palette.

Excuse me while I put some Shimmer on my Butterscotch Pudding - I hear it is a floor wax too...


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