Sunday, October 17, 2004

Jon Stewart: At least he's still funnier than Herpes!

For almost two years I've been telling people that Jon Stewart isn't funny anymore. Everyone I've preached to has vehemently disagreed with me. But after watching his performance on Crossfire last Friday, I think people are finally going to start coming around. (Read the full transcript here.)

Stewart's problem isn't that he's spun off into lefty-land. It's that all of his Emmy awards have gone to his head--he thinks he's a serious guy now. When Stewart self-deprecatingly calls The Daily Show Fake News, you can tell that what he really means is "Fake" News.

In a way, this isn't entirely Stewart's fault. For some reason, the rest of the media world pushed him into it by doing scads of fawning profiles and including him on panels with Jennings, Brokaw, Rather, and the rest of the silverbacks.

I count Tucker Carlson as a pal, but what bothers me about Stewart's Crossfire tirade isn't that he called Tucker a dick--it's that in doing so, Stewart was about as funny as E.J. Dionne after two cosmopolitans. Or Bill Bennett after a bad night at the Taj.

Memo to Comedy Central executives: Craig Kilborn's available. Why don't you get Stewart a job at The Poynter Institute and bring Kilborn back to The Daily Show? I bet it'll help the ratings.


M@ said...

I linked to this and quoted you. I have been trying to work up a post about it myself, but I think you're right essentially.

The fact is, Stewart was there to plug a book. He is espousing ideas in that book that he hopes you think are funny, but also will agree with. He is on another entertainment show on which he shows up to condemn the the format, of which he seems to be very well suited: Hold an opinion you are certain is correct, and in a rapid-fire melee of ideas, score points with the audience by deriding those who disagree with clever (but not always logically sound) attacks. It makes for great TV, and sells a LOT of books (wink wink)

A tool is one who doesn't know that they are being used. I would say Begala and Carlson both know that on Crossfire they are entertainers, but outside of that they don't claim to be anything other than people interested in swaying opinion. Hackery is a fair charge, and I don't love Crossfire any more than Stewart does, but frankly I consider him to be much more the tool. There is more hypocrisy than just that; Stewart sees the world as by and large evil manipulators and the spoonfed masses who can't or won't think for themselves. He and a very small minority are the only ones who really see what's going on. He thinks that Crossfire is a show originally meant to resolve issues!

Stewart claimed when asked by Carlson what he thought of the O'reilly scandal brewing that "he didn't". Oh really? Not even a thought about what's funny there? Comedy instincts didn't perk up even just a bit for that? Carlson was right to beg Stewart to be funny because he was too caught up in committing "hackery" as a "tool".

Stewart doesn't see a problem with letting Kerry come on his "fake" show instead of making a single "real" press appearance but does see a problem with the "real" journalists not holding politicians to account in interviews. Stewart is serious when he speaks his mind, but merely a comedy show when given a face to face opportunity with one of the best punchlines in political comedy to yet grace a stage. Kerry will eat whatever S@#$ is fed to him on a comedy program, this has been shown again and again. But Kerry was there to plug his national campaign for president, much like Stewart was on Crossfire to plug his book.

Anyway, this was sad on many levels. I am a huge fan of comedy, and have enjoyed the Daily Show for a long time and have also run in to huge disagreements when I give my opinion about the Daily Show. Sorry to ramble on, but this one really bugged me.


Polynices said...

I totally agree with you. My wife and I had to stop watching the Daily Show several months ago because of how the show has shifted. And I do think that his spinning off into lefty-land is part of why he is not funny now. The show used to cleverly skewer both sides, now it offers weak jokes against the Dems and recites DNC talking points against the Repubs. Ick.

Anonymous said...

Jon Stewart is funny no longer, and has become self-parody. He's Bill Maher will better hair. This is what happens to you when you start to believe your press-clippings.

WatchFires said...

Watching Stewart's appearance on Crossfire was like a kid's birthday party where the clown shows up drunk.

Bizarro Jack said...

For Kerry, what kind of jokes can you make about being uninspiring? Most of the jokes about Bush are totally obvious to anyone who isn't caught in his cult of personality. It's too easy not to. Bush is a looney, Kerry is kinda boring (boring and safe). Tragedy and comedy are fundamentally linked, and since the left is not a big walking disaster right now, there's just not as many jokes to make. Being affiliated with the right, naturally it doesn't seem funny, because it's hard to laugh when you're the butt of ALL the jokes. Once Kerry gets into office and starts screwing things up I'm sure the show will get funny again.

And I get the gist, but you can't say they don't make fun of democrats. The show after Zell Miller gave his ridiculous tirade at the republican convention, that was kinda funny.

Weebork said...

While I am not a fan of Stewart, I do agree with his assertion that Crossfire is not a serious debate show, but an entertaining one. I haven't considered Crossfire to be a serious show for many years now, especially since they switched it over to the audience format. Despite my personal reservations for the show, if they (crossfire) want to have their show in that format, then good for them; their ratings will tell them where to go. I agree with the sentiments about John Stewart being a hypocrite, but even though that is true, it doesn't negate what he said.

Speaking of Maher, just remember that when he states a postion, he plays with the definitions of words to make his point. I am not sure how many people realize his tactics, which are done intentionally, but most of his guests never nail him on it -- they just play along or argue against the framed point by Maher, which is self-defeating from the beginning.

Anyway, why be surprised by Stewart's arrogance? He's a lefty!

Viva la Bush!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't so much that your posting here is petty, but sadly snarky. When going after something like "The Daily Show" I'd think you'd went to step up your writing.