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I had the immense pleasure of seeing Jon Stewart speak at Patrick Gymnasium at the University of Vermont on Saturday, March 28. It was a mixture of stand-up, commentary, and interaction with the audience.
Here are some highlights:
- He made several good-natured jabs at liberal Burlington, including the observations that "the entire town seems to made of natural fiber and beard hair" and "your whole town is like a contact high." He also says, "Your homeless people are so nice. I saw one this morning and said, 'Do you want a dollar?'. He said, 'No, man, do you want one?'."
- Stewart has tackled gay marriage many times on his show, so he commented about our current news on the issue, including a couple of choice words about Governor Jim Douglas. But his most apt comment was simple and to the point: "I have one thing to say about opponents of gay marriage: THEY'RE WRONG." [If you would like to hear a more elaborate articulation of his views on gay marriage, check out his most recent interview with Mike Huckabee.]
- In related comments, he noted how the extremes in society seem to be the loudest even though moderates are the majority: "The extremes have time and energy; moderates have shit to do."
- One of the most touching segments was when he talked about his children, and though he acknowledges the ups and downs of parenthood, he admires children's "pure joy and exuberance," noticing how when his son "sees something he recognizes, he dances."
- If you've been paying attention to the recent kerfuffle between Jon Stewart and CNBC, he briefly addressed the flack he caught about his interview of Jim Cramer, noting how he explained at the time that this wasn't just about Cramer, but about the failings of financial journalism on a large scale. However, the media "decided to make a fight out of it. They have to turn it into sport because if they think about what they are actually doing, they'll cry."
- Another observation on the failings of some televised journalism: "They shouldn't call it 'the news.' They should call it 'we have cameras.'"
- Near the end, someone asked him what he was proudest of about his career. His response: "That I tried it."
- Another person asked what he thinks about the younger generation and what we can do to help. He replied, "I'm not worried about this generation. You guys are way more informed and enthusiastic than I ever was at that age. I say we give it all to you now. What are you going to do? Start a war and tank the economy?"
I am a devoted watcher of The Daily Show and consider Jon Stewart to be not only hilarious and insightful but also a genuine person. I found his optimism sprinkled among the satire to be inspiring. Despite my adoration, I think there is room for conversation about his dual role as media outsider/insider and what his humor adds to cultural and political debates. For example, I thought his brilliant takedown of Jim Cramer expressed valid points and was not just a rage-fueled rant nor a loss of humor or perspective, as some pundits have stated [warning — link is to Tucker Carlson].
Any readers at the show and have other observations or opinions?