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4) Watch one episode of either the Daily Show with Jon Stewart or the Colbert Report and discuss how the show, successfully or not, tries to use humor to make serious points about political and/or social issues.

Timing on punchline delivery is key for a joke to have the right impact.  This is evident in each episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report.  Both Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert have impeccable comedic timing and have lent these abilities to political and social commentary.  Pew research has reported that due to this viewers are more knowledgeable about current events than those who receive their news via any other news source[1].  I’d mark that as successful!

Each show is broken down into several segments.  The first segment is always the headlines; those great stories that are making the headlines in major publications and local/national news programs.  These are presented in a manner that sheds light on the issues as well as pokes fun at the key players.  This approach allows the viewers to associate more amicably to the issues at hand and form an opinion upon discussions with peers.  The next 2 segments generally involve guests.  Whether through a discussion panel or outside reporting, these segments prove educational in areas the typical news source would not.  There are presentations of new publications, speeches, and conventions.  Each guest brings a unique viewpoint even if it differs greatly from the host’s.  This proves amazingly effective at providing more balanced information to the masses.

Overall, while sometimes these shows are very silly, they do provide a broad range of topics to folks who may have become disenchanted with traditional news sources that have become a joke[2].  Humor is not for everyone, but if it gets people informed, perhaps they will become more involved citizens and as a united front advocate for change.

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