Thanks to one of WMD's and Peete's pals, Annie and I were in the house at the Wang Center last weekend, in an audience that Jon Stewart addressed as "my poor sweet little blue staters...you godless sodomites." Fellow godless sodomites Cameo and the Brownman were also present and in the fray.
Stewart covered all of the bases, commenting on everything from the Middle East to gay marriage. For instance, Stewart said he was against gay marriage at first because he didn't want to have to leave his wife for a dude: "I assumed gay marriage was going to be mandatory because why would anyone else care." He discussed the "bizarre wardrobe idiosyncrasies" of religion: "The Pope is just one hat choice away from being the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan." It wasn't all politics, however. Stewart also recreated his two-year-old son's very Ben Cyr-ish dance moves that he busted on a Manhattan street after correctly identifying a tiger. He ended the show with a hilarious play-by-play about his dog having gastrointestinal issues in the middle of the night.
ALL of it was funny and much of it was inspiring.
While I've always liked Jon Stewart, I became a true devotee after watching him verbally disembowel Tucker Carlson on CNN in 2004. You know Tucker Carlson -- that pasty, bowtie-wearing frat boy who looks a little -- how you say -- date-rapey? Stewart chastised Carlson and his show "Crossfire" for doing a disservice to public discourse by participating in "partisan hackery." When Carlson tried to compare his interviewing style with that of Stewart's, Stewart said, "The lead in to my show is puppets making crank calls. You're on CNN. What's the matter with you?" Then he called Tucker a dick. Awesome. Clearly, CNN agreed with Stewart as "Crossfire" was cancelled shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, Tucker has since landed at MSNBC. While he's lost his bowtie and has made his acquaintance with a tanning booth, he's still a total dick.
Speaking of which, some Harvard grad wrote an op-ed in the Globe earlier this year about how Jon Stewart is harmful because he turns away smart, independent thinkers from a life in politics by making government seem uncool and clownish. (I would argue that the government makes itself appear uncool and clownish and Stewart is merely pointing this out) I don't know if the guy who wrote the op-ed is completely humorless or has no sense of irony but he certainly doesn't get it. He contends that young people who watch "The Daily Show" are more likely to shun public life and go work in the private sector. However, he provides no evidence, statistics or sources to support his hypothesis aside from a fictional composite example. Speaking for myself -- although I am certainly not a "young person" -- watching shows like "The Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report" has not made me care less about the world. Watching these shows has never given me the urge to go work at Goldman Sachs, nor has it given me the urge to go into politics. But that's because neither of these occupations is in my blood. What really makes me feel turned off and completely powerless is the actual. real. news. The real news makes me want to smoke a brick of hash and apologize to my kids for bringing them into this mess. I credit people like Jon Stewart for rousing me from my apathy. Jon Stewart has not made politics and government repulsive to me, but palatable. He turned me into a voter. He did not do this with scare tactics or condescension, but by being engaging, funny and intelligent, and often through clips like this one.