On the moral understructure of late-night talk show humor

Tonight will provide a rare test case in American popular culture, as late-night talk show hosts, writers, and producers try to figure out if a subject that was, last night, deemed laugh-worthy by the American public– Dick Cheney accidentally lightly wounding a hunting pal– is still considered joke fodder a night later after the wound has become somewhat more serious.

My guess is that there will be another round of Cheney-has-a-gun jokes, because once you’ve started making jokes about a subject, it’s kind of awkward to stop. But here’s an interesting thought experiment: if Whittington had had a heart attack yesterday instead of today, would there have been (m)any jokes at all? I suspect not. Shotgun pellets in the face = laff riot; shotgun pellet in the heart = Not Funny To The American People.