Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Imus Remounts

As a cranky, old, white guy who attempts comedy, I had some sympathy for Don Imus when he was run off radio and tv on a rail. He hadn't really been a shock jock for years. Simulating a broadcast of sexual intercourse from St. Patrick's Cathedral -now there's a shock jock. Organizing a protest rally because the movie The Diving Bell and The Butterfly wasn't shot in time for Christopher Reeve to play the lead, now there's a shock jock.

Imus was not overtly racist when he was serious. For an old, white guy he was sometimes relatively deft at dancing a fine line between avoiding political correctness, part of both his comedy schtick and his folksy but serious interviewer persona, and being racially aware without being racist. His success at getting serious authors and politicians as interviewees was part of his downfall - he became more than just another shock jock and paid the price when a tasteless attempt at humor fell very flat, something that had happened to Imus, and his on-air confederates, fairly often before without resulting in the death penalty. Would anyone have even noticed the same line from Opie and Anthony?

Attempted humor often means a free pass from charges of racism - attend a comedy club if you don't believe me - but it's not valid everywhere for every remark. If you want to play it safe, stick to jokes about your own ethnic group. If you want to be daring, especially on tv, then you had better be funny, a tricky proposition when you often find out after the fact what works comedy wise and what does not.

Now Imus is headed back into the public eye on RFD-TV. That's RFD as in Mayberry (well, Omaha), rural free delivery, a channel that was a not for profit agronomy outlet until recently.

Will Imus help the station break into new markets? How many TV sets will stay on RFD when it makes the 10AM switch from Imus to Silage and Baling - the Choice is Yours

Will real ranchers grow weary of endless remarks about the Imus ranch?

Will his old pals from politics and the world of books sign on for interviews?

Will Imus speak to the old pals who abandoned him. Will he got tossed off the air for speaking to them in one syllable, four letter Anglo-Saxon.

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