Comedy Central is quietly taping a new talk-show parody, although some of Crossballs’ “guests” don’t think it’s so funny.
The show is a takeoff on CNN’s Crossfire and MSNBC’s Hardball. The concept is to lure unwitting advocates from both sides of a topic—such as gun control, abortion or obesity—into a Los Angeles studio.
Guests aren’t told that other participants in the debate are actually comedians that take outrageous positions on the topic.
For instance, Sacramento, Calif., right-to-bear-arms advocate James Marsh was questioned by a purported psychologist on whether his need for guns was tied to “sexual issues.” Still reeling, Marsh was then asked: “When was your first homoerotic experience?”
Two other guests said they were also set up but received gentler treatment. Longtime privacy advocate Lauren Weinstein says a producer “begged me” to be a guest, but Weinstein grew suspicious when show details weren’t forthcoming. Weinstein sleuthed out the con by searching the Internet.
Given that fellow Viacom divisions CBS and MTV have legit news operations, the Crossballs con “should embarrass the related news organizations,” says Weinstein.
Comedy Central spokesman Tony Fox responds: “We didn’t lie to them; we just didn’t tell them everything. The goal is not to humiliate, the goal is to create comedy.