By Kate Clinton on April 19, 2014

For more than thirty years I have been a comedy practitioner, and for more than forty years I have been a student of late night comedy. From Tonight to Late Night to The Late Late Show, and from the big three networks to cable channels, I can trace the lineages: from Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Meyers back through Jay Leno and David Letterman (the fighting Cain and Abel brothers), back to Johnny Carson, who reworked Dick Cavett and Jack Paar. I have followed comedy family tree offshoots, such as Craig Ferguson and Conan O’Brien. Now as an older adult learner who thinks 10 p.m. is pushing it, I am especially grateful for the timely refinements of TiVo, Hulu, and YouTube.

Of course, I have happily followed the career trajectories of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central, and Bill Maher on HBO, but they’re on cable, and the networks’ belief that network late night is superior to cable still abides. For now.

For five decades, the late night show memes of desk, fake microphone, monologue, interview, and musical or animal guest have basically remained the same. The sixth meme, the white man, has also held sway. Joan Rivers, Paula Poundstone, Wanda Sykes, Whoopi Goldberg—all tried and failed. Chelsea Handler has slyly repurposed the word “late” with her evening show, Chelsea Lately, but, again, it’s on cable.

The latest crop of comics, Fallon and Meyers, were welcomed to their new night jobs with Olympic coverage that made them more viral than Bob Costas’s pink eyes.

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This column from The Progressive (April 2014) was written by Kate “Lumosity Grad” Clinton, a humorist.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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