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A Decade of Dark HumorHow Comedy, Irony, and Satire Shaped Post-9/11 America$
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Ted Gournelos and Viveca Greene

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617030062

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617030062.001.0001

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date: 22 July 2018

Everything Changes Forever (Temporarily)

Everything Changes Forever (Temporarily)

Late-Night Television Comedy after 9/11

(p.3) Chapter One Everything Changes Forever (Temporarily)
A Decade of Dark Humor

David Gurney

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines late-night television comedy programs and the reasons why the format largely failed to address the complexity of 9/11, either at all or with humor. It first considers the comedic practices of late-night talk show hosts such as Bill Maher, and the discursive formation they constituted before, during, and immediately after the 9/11 attacks. It then discusses the comedians’ reactions to the events and the call to approach news topics more “seriously.” It also assesses the long-term (non)effects of the 9/11 attacks on late-night talk show humor to determine the adaptability and resilience of this form of mediated political comedy. The chapter concludes by arguing that late-night television comedy, despite becoming a more pluralistic space that allows potentially divisive opinions to enter broader public discourse, may also become a venue for external forces to police that space.

Keywords:   late-night television, comedy programs, 9/11, humor, Bill Maher, comedians, news, political comedy

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