I think I would have been more upset about Jon’s last show, but I lost my Jareth kitten, so I’m numb to other tragedy today. That said . . .
THE SIMPSONS: Springfield voters reject the leading candidates and embraced a write-in: Ralph Wiggum. Although no one knows for sure which political party Ralph is representing, he insists that everyone is invited to his party in the “E Pluribus Wiggum” episode of THE SIMPSONS Sunday, Jan. 6 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Pictured: guest voice Jon Stewart. THE SIMPSONS ª and ©2008TCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
I have seen almost every Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I started watching when Craig hosted, though due to cable issues I wasn’t as faithful to him. Over these past many years, I think there are maybe 8 episodes of TDS with Jon I haven’t seen, mostly due to overseas travel.
Jon brought something that Craig didn’t–a decidedly political focus. When I think of Craig’s show, I remember laughing, I remember his 5 questions bit, I remember Olivia Newton John not getting the 5 questions right although they just wanted her to say “grease,” and I remember Bill Murray singing some lyrics for the theme song. There’s more to remember about Jon because his show was more meaningful.
You all know what I’m going to say: More people got their news from Jon than from anywhere else. Their coverage won 7 Peabody Awards and an Orwell. The show launched the careers of some of our best comedians.
The last episode featured many, many correspondents (and his crew)–as it should. It was their show, too, and Jon made sure their voices were heard. Many have talked about how Jon made them better writers–that they learned to write for a purpose, for an audience, and with concision in mind–in addition to being funny.
Jon allowed them to play and to ridicule him. His brand of comedy was unique, in fact, because while the show was often satirical, the true satire was always in the hands of his correspondents. That is, satire plays on a level of meaning–it’s possible to misunderstand it. It depends on a naive narrator. Stephen Colbert’s show was all satire because Stephen was in character (and many did somehow miss that he was). While Jon sometimes used sarcasm for comic effect, he was sincere. He was angry at the VA, at those who fought to screw over first responders, etc. It wasn’t an act.
Those of us of a certain age will always remember Jon’s first show after 9/11 and the strength of his words.
When I teach satire, the segments of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart I use come from the correspondents, since they can’t come from the straight man that is Stewart (like this one).
Here’s what I’ll most miss. Jon’s honesty. His laugh. His using opponents’ words against them (by simply showing them saying the thing they said they didn’t say, etc.) The way he made the other side go crazy. If he were just a clown, they never would have had to mention him. But they did–they tried to take him down as if he were a serious newsman, as if he were a powerful political player.
And that made sure he was both.
(Maybe that’s why they decided to do their first debate after he was gone.)