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The Colbert Report and the geography of humor

The Colbert Report and the geography of humor

The Colbert Report is a well-known and often delightful part of the US comedy landscape. Not only can you watch it live on TV, you can also catch up with recent shows easily by going to So if you are traveling away from home and have a Wi-Fi connection, you can simply stream it on your laptop as the miles roll by.

Sort of.

This scenario only holds true if you are in the United States. If you are outside the country, Hulu sends you a little note that you are out of luck, please go back to playing solitaire on your computer.

HuluBlocked-UnblockHuluIn Germany, travelers on ICE trains get access to a Wi-Fi network so they can stay connected and surf the web during their journey.  But, this traveler had a problem: While it was fine with ICE if I watched Stephen Colbert on their train, this was not OK with Hulu.

Why should my geographic location be a deciding factor over internet access? This exclusion is both irritating and, in my opinion, a shortsighted business policy.

It’s irritating because I just want to laugh about American politics from my location a few thousand miles outside that country’s borders. If the folks in Washington DC are working so hard at being ridiculous, why shouldn’t I be allowed to laugh at them? Shouldn’t laughter and humor be considered a basic human right, up there with the more well-known freedoms of speech and religion?

Hulu itself says it would like to make its content available worldwide as quickly as possible. “This requires working with the content owners to clear the rights for each show or film in each specific region,” states the Hulu site. That is a huge task, and yes, they have just added Japan to their network, but when it will be made available in other countries is completely unknown.

The good news is getting blocked from Hulu based on your GeoIP is completely avoidable. I’ve got my Hotspot Shield VPN which enables me to ‘be’ in the United States virtually and so unblock Hulu. So once I launch Hotspot Shield, I am able to access Hulu despite my physical presence somewhere in the German countryside.   I’ve gained the right to laugh again!

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