How much of our political information is gathered through the filter of comedic shows? What does it mean when the writers for Saturday Night Live seemingly have a concrete impact on the way that our elected officials are being perceived?
No format in recent years seems to have had as important an impact on how we view the political and governmental scene as late-night comedy shows, from Jay Leno’s Tonight Show to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and SNL. Presidential hopefuls, who once rarely strayed from Sunday morning talk shows, are now frequently seen on these sorts of shows — even occasionally poking fun at themselves. Not exactly the sort of thing we’d imagine our Founding Fathers would do, eh?
My guest is Russell Peterson, who is an adjunct assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Iowa, as well as author of the recent book Strange Bedfellows: How Late-Night Comedy Turns Democracy Into a Joke.