"Look on my jokes, ye Mighty, and despair!"

I read an interesting article by Matt Zoller Seitz, suggesting that the comedy television programs of today will not age well due to the volume of pop-culture references they rely on for their humor. As he puts it:

“‘Krusty Gets Kancelled’ is one of the greatest of all ‘Simpsons’ episodes, but if it were a poem, it would need to have nearly as many footnotes as ‘The Waste Land'”.

It’s a good article, and be sure to read the comments section, wherein a lively debate over what has and hasn’t aged well (and whether it matters) ensues.

My take on this: You can learn a lot about pop culture from old satires of it. Seitz touches on this briefly in the article, and I have to admit, (though I’m not proud of this) that I myself learned a lot about pop culture and politics from the 1960s by reading old MAD magazines from that era.

Besides, there is something of a paradox here in that really “timeless” humor would of necessity appear to be timely, or even topical, as well. With some thought, a humorist can make fun of a particular self-obsessed celebrity, and at the same time mock self-obsessed celebrities generally. And as there will probably always be self-obsessed celebrities, this will be understandable even to subsequent generations, even if they don’t know the particulars.

(Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan)

What's your stake in this, cowboy?