Remember the good times we had with (at) Michael Jackson('s expense)?
by Danny Gallagher, posted Jul 9th 2009 5:04PM
A lot of memories have surfaced of the good times that pop icon and musical genius Michael Jackson provided the world in the wake of his untimely and unfortunate death. However, an elephant in the room has wedged its wide butt in between the happy memories that range from "Billy Jean" to "Rockin' Robin," other than the eye-bleedingly bad Moonwalker movie.
Jackson's life outside of the recording studio and in the blood-soaked pages of the supermarket tabloids provided a lot of fodder for comedies and comedians that turned the man into a punchline just as fast as the radio waves turned him into a legend.
Michael Jackson jokes gradually moved from the dark corners of the elementary school recess yard to permeate nearly every part of the TV landscape. Some shows managed to rise above the overly juvenile jokes by mining material from other aspects of Jackson's life, while others ran with the seedier details and packed more punch than a swallow of Jesus Juice.
The second Michael Jackson trial (legal name: "Jackson Trial 2: Electric Boogaloo") started just after the dawn of Jimmy Kimmel's late night show on ABC. It also spawned his creepy press conference gatecrasher Jake Byrd, played by writer Anthony Barberi. The character not only brought an Ali-G style of guerilla warfare back to late night comedy, but also a badly needed dose of reality to placard toting fanboys willing to sacrifice their time and potential job prospects for a meaningless protest.
Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken took a less, shall we say, hands-on approach to turning MJ into a target. The first season featured a sketch in which the young Jackson escapes from the evil clutches of the short-tempered aliens to reveal their plans for world domination by replacing him with the new pale-faced, baby balcony-dangling Jackson. The sketch ends in Robot Chicken's inimitable style: a completely over-the-top fight, loud gunfire, and at least two dead bodies.
South Park's stab at a Michael Jackson episode seemed like your TV would feature nothing but wall-to-wall molestation jokes, but the "Meeting Mr. Jefferson" took a novel and satirical approach to the stained legacy of the King of Pop. The episode took Jackson to task for his obsession with reclaiming his lost childhood and alleged lackidasical parenting skills. Show creator Trey Parker also delivered an eerily good musical impression of the pop star that makes me wonder what he has in store for the latest (actually, last) chapter of MJ's life.
Even the media circus that circled Jackson's life got the sharp end of the gag writer's mechanical pencil. The Daily Show turned themselves into the official media watchdog with their coverage of the coverage of the trial.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Back in Black - E! Channel's Re-enactment of the Michael Jackson Trial|
However, the balliest attempt at turning Jackson's troubles into entertainment goes to Robert Smigel and the staff writers of Late Night with Conan O'Brien for sending Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to interview the more clueless, stingy and downright angry supporters who hung out at the LA Courthouse during the second molestation trial. The very thought of so many people spending so much time in front of the courthouse staggers the mind and makes me wonder if the Cheesecake Factory ever survived the huge employment shortage during the length of the trial.