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Jan. 27 2010 - 11:53 am | 90 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

The Best of Late Night Foreign Policy

Today I’m introducing what might become a regular feature of my blog – “The Best of Late Night Foreign Policy.”

Of course, as soon as I decided to pursue this line of research, the Battle of Jay vs. Conan monopolized the airwaves, and the nation was enthralled by the question of which Filthy-Rich-White-Guy-in-a-Tie-Sits-Behind-a-Desk-on-TV-Better.

At the same time, the Haitian earthquake occupied much of the foreign news landscape, from which the Late Night Guys get their material. Tragedy, of course, is hard to make funny.

Still, there are some recent contenders.

By the “Best of Late Night Foreign Policy,” I mean not only funny, but also grounded in a reasonable knowledge of the world outside US borders.  Here are some recent contenders:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Yemen, January 6, 2010:  “Can’t we get into a war with paved countries?”

The Colbert Report – Yemen – January 5, 2010.  “Yemen is not only full of terrorists, but also Mexicans.”

Unlike Comedy Central’s fake news programs, the Late Night landscape made up of Jay, Conan and Dave seem to rarely produce segments on international events. So judging their foreign policy cred is based on the jokes they throw out during monologues. (To save both my sanity and my DVR, I’ve chosen to ignore Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel and anyone else lurking in late late night.)

The winner is David Letterman.  On the 23 year-old Nigerian underwear bomber: “The guy was not too bright – he said the reason he became a suicide bomber was to work his way up the al Qaeda organization.”

Conan is second, but Jay?  I don’t want to gang up on the guy, but let’s just say that Jay needs to travel more. Not every foreign event needs to be linked to NBA penis size.  And not everyone lives in a cave.

Since pickings were slim on the Late Night foreign desk,  I’m going to reach into some recent archives to highlight two other very funny spots:

Saturday Night Live’s joint press conference with President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, November 2009.

And one more from Stephen Colbert – October 6th, 2009:  “Afghanistan is just not that into being invaded.” (Starts around 1.30)


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    About Me

    I'm a freelance journalist and writer who has recently returned to the US after 17 years living overseas, primarily in Southeast Asia.

    In 1992, I went to Cambodia – then at the height of the UNTAC peacekeeping mission - to cut my teeth on journalism.

    ….I was in Hong Kong, for the 1997 Handover to Chinese rule; and then it was off to

    …..Indonesia - for the fall of President Suharto in 1998, through the the reformasi movement; the East Timor conflict, its independence ballot and peacekeeping mission; the fallout from September 11th in “the world’s most populous Muslim nation” and the Bali bomb, and myriad points in-between during a five and a half year span;

    …. and onwards to India, where I was Voice of America radio/television correspondent for South Asia between 2003 and 2006, which included rotations in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with my “patch” of India, including Kashmir; Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

    I’ve freelanced my way in and out of Bosnia, Burma, Egypt, the Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand. I’ve also filed out of Vietnam and Malaysia.

    My name is Mary Patricia Nunan, and I vastly prefer “MP.” If you’ve heard me on the radio or seen me on tv – NPR, VOA, CBC, BBC or others -- it would have been as “Patricia Nunan.” I’ve never had much use for the “Mary.”

    See my profile »
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    Contributor Since: August 2009
    Location:New York City