Why are you watching the debates? (BRENT STIRTON/CNN)

That's about how I'd describe the Republican debates. But when the Whose Line guys made a lot of nonsense up on the spot, it was funny, and they didn't have to wear ties.

If this were a show, it would have been cancelled decades ago. But somehow there are nine more scheduled. Nine! And that's not a reference to the Cain plan. How will we survive? There must be some sort of adrenaline in the atmosphere, a shroud of forgetfulness that descends, mercifully, between us and the last debate. It's like childbirth. If we remembered how awful it was last time, there's no way we'd have eight more, not even to please Jon Huntsman's dad.

New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics urge keeping children away from screens. It’s not because the screens stunt your development; it’s because the screen might be showing another Republican debate and your child would lose all its enthusiasm for life.

Andy Borowitz described the debates as a sitcom with no main characters, only wacky neighbors. This is the trouble. Where's the straight man?

"Hi," says Mitt Romney.

"Not you, some other guy,” everyone says.

Can we just take the rest of them as assumed?

I said earlier that they needed to stop. As usually happens when I say things need to stop, they go right on as though I never said anything at all. Observe the continued existence of Snooki and increasing popularity of cupcakes

Someone made the point that Romney is only apparently inevitable because if Rick Perry performs this badly in nine more debates, someone will take him out behind a shed and quietly do nasty Texan things to him. But must we actually sit there and watch Rick Perry mangle nine more debates? The only thing more unpleasant than being Rick Perry in a debate is watching him in one.

Perhaps in lieu of debates, we give each of them two hours on the air to read to us from their books, just to see who is the most soporific — a word that, like Herman Cain’s candidacy, sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is? Why don't we just let Newt Gingrich babble at us for an equivalent length of time? Better yet, why don't we give all of us two hours where we definitely won't hear from these folks?

I complained about the debates before. "Come up with a drinking game," my colleagues suggested. The last time I tried that, I decided to drink every time someone said 9-9-9 or Rick Perry failed to impress me, and now I'm an alcoholic. I tune into each debate a comparatively young woman and emerge two hours later, haggard and rickety.

Look, I know each time will be different. This time Jon Huntsman will be missing, because he is Boycotting Nevada! This time, we are watching to see if Perry redeems himself! We are waiting to see what Mitt will have to tell us about jobs and the economy!

But honestly, when the cliffhangers are the same every time, why bother tuning in week after week?

The only reason this week is that Anderson Cooper will be there. He is a national treasure. On his daytime talk show Tuesday, he and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt spoke to spirits using the medium John Edwards. Oddly, this was a less frivolous pursuit than moderating the Republican debate.

If worst comes to worst, you can just mute the television and gaze at Anderson Cooper, meanwhile imbibing heavily. That is not my plan, because I am a responsible member of the media, but I would urge you to consider it.

Or just change the channel to Whose Line reruns. I doubt you’ll miss much.