Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Real Jon Stewart

by Brendan Fitzgibbons, DI columnist

Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," is the most relevant popular cultural figure in America today for several reasons. First and foremost, Jon Stewart and the entire writing team at "The Daily Show" are absolutely brilliant. I would pit their intelligence against any rocket scientist or physicist any day of the week.

I would much rather be Jon Stewart smart than Big Bang Theory smart. Along with this general worldly knowledge is Stewart's sharp-as-a-razor wit. The man is quick as a butterfly on PCP.

With all that being said, I have to say I was disappointed in his performance during last Sunday's Academy Awards. Aside from a few biting one-liners (my favorite being, "I do have some sad news to report. Bjork couldn't be here tonight. She was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her"), Stewart's execution generally was inconsistent and fell flat. I think it was hard for the "Daily Show" host to fit his satirical self-depreciating insightful humor within the elegant and bland setting of the Academy Awards.

(For those who as me were a little unsatisfied after Sunday's Oscars, fear not, I have even more proof that Jon Stewart's is an unconventional wizard in his own rite. Check out the transcript from his Feb. 27 appearance on Larry King.)

The brilliance of "The Daily Show" is that underneath its whimsical barbs and satirical messages is a desperate moral plea for sanity in a derailed and loony system of government known as American politics. Stewart and the gang aren't on the left or the right side of issues, but the human side. They consistently remain above the unbelievably colossal shroud of bullshit staining today's politicians, and point out our system's flaws in hopes of bettering citizens' lives.

Here's the most telling excerpt from Stewart's talk with King: "Yes, I prefer not the fodder. I'm not - we're not the guys at the craps table betting against the line. I would - we'd make fun of something else. If public life, if government suddenly became inspiring and moved towards people's better nature and began to solve problems in a rational way rather than just a way that involved political dividends, we would be the happiest people in the world to turn our attention to idiots like, you know, media people, no offense."

I know many Americans feel the same way. I know I do. Not all politicians suck, and this isn't a rallying cry in the name of anarchy and lawlessness; I just want politicians to be real, to speak truthfully to the American people, and not come packaged in pre-wrap and bubble paper. Thank you Jon Stewart for always keeping it real.

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