Friday, April 04, 2014

Jon Stewart … fatigued enough to follow Letterman? … by gimleteye

On Comedy Central, Jon Stewart owns the most difficult job in daily television. David Letterman once joked, "I'll retire after this job stops being fun … ten years later." In 2015 Letterman intends to relinquish his stellar run.

As much as I love Letterman, who delivers the best opening monologue on night time TV, (Jimmy Fallon, a long ways to go.) I love Jon Stewart more. The Daily Show, including a top notch team of writers and team of "reporters", is a fixture of contemporary life in televised America. But for how long?

On recent nights, seeping through Stewart's open amazement at the hypocrisy of corporate America -- through the response of GM to tragic deaths it caused by a faulty ignition switch -- and the tepid response of Congress to the GM coverup -- through a Congressional hearing implying corporate America cannot be held accountable, period, -- his weariness was visible.

There is a large swath of America for which The Daily Show is its only insight on the news. Particularly, for the young and for people who would rather watch TV than parse newspapers. As good natured as Stewart is -- self protection as the case may be --, the responsibility for high quality humor at targets like Fox News, CNN and our common list of bete noires is a heavy burden.

One struggles to imagine any of the talent that cycled through the Daily Show, including Stephen Colbert, dribbling the minefield of media fakery, abusive corporate behavior and their BBF, American politics, as well as Stewart. I worry how long he can keep going for good reasons. We need his company.

The recent US Supreme Court decision solidifying the role of oligarchs, centi-millionaires, and "free speech" for corporate America through unlimited campaign contributions sent a concussive shock through anyone who believed change was possible in our lifetimes; even with an assist from a steady, scathing application of humor. People will wake up, won't they? Voters will return Congress to its senses, won't they? Here, Stewart says, look! Laugh!

Beneath the humor, Jon Stewart's intelligence shines. I hope it shines for a good deal longer, but under the pressure of so much dismal news, one begins to sense the limits that weigh on this national treasure.


Mustang Bobby said...

A nit to pick: It's "Jon," not "John."

Geniusofdespair said...

Thank you Bobby! Always a pleasure to hear from you. Made the correction.

Anonymous said...

Jon Stewart is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

although I agree politically, and some of his content is humorous, I just can't take his abrasive personality, therefore I don't watch. Not a fan.

Geniusofdespair said...

Big fan.

Anonymous said...

Yeah very smart guy. whenever I want to know what the left-wing progressive upper eastside jewish intelligentsia is mocking I tune in his "a" block.

But you do know we're talking about entertainment television right? aimed a target demographic of 18 to 24 male? The show's lead in is a cartoon? In short it's what James Carville calls "drunk on a lamp post" commentary, more for support than illumination. Just like the Rush Limbaugh's show is for old rich white Republicans. Pure entertainment parading as insightful analysis.
But then again if you're following paul rudd instead of paul krugman on twitter you probably get your hard news from the daily show.


Anonymous said...

Jon Stewart can definitely see 360 degrees of an issue. Luckily he hates corruption.

Bambi said...



I know deer repellent when I smell it.

You could have said it in fewer words,

like Alan Sorkin's "New York sense of humor."