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Published on January 9th, 2009 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Bringing the hammer down… or not.

A few months back I wrote about how despite having the best of journalistic intentions, and the savvyness to know what your interview subject wants to say, you can’t deliver a story as fully-formed and accurate as you’d like.

Sometimes, you stress over a misguided article. But other times? Other times, you know you’ve given up a little. You let them talk. You silently marveled at their bullshit. You didn’t fight them. You typed up what they said. And you feel very, very dirty when you see it in print. (I still shudder over my article on Dustin “Screech” Diamond, a mostly shiny-happy piece that mentions nothing about how he flaked on the interview the first time, called me the next day high on “pain medication”, and desperately wanted to talk about rap music.)

It happens. I can only hope that this is the case with a piece I stumbled upon tonight, from the Evansville Courier & Press.

Let’s play a little game. I’m going to list a few quotes from the article, and see if you can guess which comedian is promoting his upcoming show. Ready?

“I don’t want to just make people laugh; I want to make people think.”

“I like families to come and see my show.”

“My comedy transcends into important statements, such as how fashions sweep this country when they’re on TV.”


If you guessed Gallagher, you win a smashed watermelon! And depending on how much comedy journalism you consume, you’re thinking either “hmm, ok” or “WTF?!?!”.

For those of us in the WTF category, it’s in large part to some of the most recent – and extensive – coverage of the guy, when he appeared in New York last year.

Preview of the show, wherein Gallagher proves he’s kinda racist but mostly just weird:

Apiary interview, part 1

Apiary interview, part 2

Reviews of the shows, wherein Gallagher proves he’s definitely racist, homophobic, hateful, and a giant douchebag:

From the Comic’s Comic

From an audience member’s personal blog

Read those 4 stories. And then read the full story from Evansville, wherein Gallagher successfully portrays himself as a thought-provoking saint of a man, worthy of the title “legend of comedy”.

In all fairness, Evansville is THE hotbed of breaking news stories in Indiana (and its respective Tri-State Area), and interviewing an 80s comedy non-icon likely isn’t the highest priority for the staff writers.

But typically, as a journalist, if you have a notorious asshole on the phone, pretending that he’s not a notorious asshole, you might want to… y’know… bring that up in your line of questioning? Whether this reporter is guilty of journalistic laziness (interview research step 1: use your Google-Fu), or whether she was actually outsmarted by Gallagher, she can’t possibly feel good about her j-school student loans right now.

Part of me understands wanting to just let things slide and make deadline in the easiest way possible. But another part of me hopes this same reporter gets sent to review the show. And wears white.


About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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  • The Colbert Report A-Z

    Third Beat editor Sharilyn Johnson presents the ultimate fan guide to The Colbert Report, available from all major booksellers including amazon.com