Back when I were nobbut knee high to a grasshopper, there was a great TV programme called 'The Daily Show', which broadcast only in America. So we used to go the Comedy Central website, and watch three-minute clips of such correspondents' pieces as 'This Week in God', 'Mess O'Potamia' and awesome interviews with John McCain where he takes the piss out of George Bush for being thick. Later, we discovered the illicit joys of Azureus and eDonkey, and could obtain whole episodes of joy.
Not long ago, though, the Daily Show began to air in Britain, on More4. But something was wrong: it was, to put it bluntly, just a little bit crapper. Perhaps the formula was beginning to look stale, perhaps Jon Stewart's duck-face thing was getting tired... or it had become a victim of its own success and all the good correspondents had left.
Steve Carrell went on to love lamp in Anchorman and get laid in The Forty Year Old Virgin, Rob Corddry has just left to do...er.. something else and the best and most well-loved, Stephen Colbert, now has his own show.
The Colbert Report (wikipedia entry here) follows on from The Daily Show in the States, but sadly doesn't get aired over here. That's a crying shame - it's hilarious. There's the Word of the Day, the progress of Stephen Junior - the pet bald eagle - and a strange segment called Better Know A District. I haven't really worked out what that's about, but I like it.
Anyone who's seen the Daily Show will be familiar with Colbert's blustering wrong-headed Republican persona - and here the context is a parody of a rightwing talk show, as made infamous by Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter.
The best recurring segment so far has been the Hungarian Bridge Campaign - noticing that the Hungary government has foolishly put a poll on the Internet for the naming of a new bridge in the country, Colbert urged viewers to vote for him, hoping he could overtake the current poll leader Chuck Norris.
He duly did, clocking up millions of votes. Eventually, the contest closed and he won. At which point, the Hungarian ambassador came on the show - earning my eternal respect - to present Colbert with a Hungarian passport and to tell him that the only thing that was stopping them naming the bridge after him was the small matter of him being alive. He then said that Hungary would waive that restriction if Colbert came to the opening ceremony. (How cool is Hungary? It's definitelymy favourite East European country now - hear that, Estonia?)
So, insummation: watch, and laugh.