Jon Stewart is truly remarkable. He appears to be: a man of passion whose political beliefs are unashamedly worn on his sleeve for all to see; intelligent with a heightened sense of the absurd, which is just as well given that he earns his living as a comedian, and, after this week’s performance, having an inordinate amount of integrity.
He is the most trusted man in America. How do I know? The New York Times told me so – along with the Guardian, the Times, the Washington Post and just about every other print media of substance.
Why stop at America?
I’m sure that there are many worthy academic articles that have banged on about why a comic doing a faux news television programme shown on Comedy Central has serious street cred. Why have old news hungry farts, such as myself, for the past 6-7 years, in my case, have chosen to get my day’s news first from the Daily Show before venturing out to read or view “proper” media outlets?
There will be, no doubt, historical references to the concept of the court jester – the one person in the King’s court who was given permission to tell the truth and not lose his head. Alas poor Yorrick, or his like, was the one who announced to all and sundry that the Emperor wore no clothes
Jon Stewart isn’t the first political satirist. I cut my eye-teeth with the BBC’s ‘The Frost Report”. It was a brilliant satirical variety show, despite David Frost’s involvement, comprising of skits in which we were first introduced to the talents of John Cleese, and the two Ronnies, Barker and Corbett, and with biting, piss funny musical interludes provided by Tom Lehrer of ‘The Vatican Rag’ fame
Of course, the Frost Report was broadcast once a week so it had time, the most valuable part of the creative process, to hone the final show into something akin to satirical ambrosia. The Daily Show’s consistency in tight, pertinent, yet still funny, writing; spot on performances by the comedic troupe, and what must be a production nightmare resulting in four shows a week, is testimony to the creative team that is the heart of this show.
But it was in the past week that Jon Stewart again rose to the fore.
Sarah Palin was, and always will be, easy to make merry with, satirically speaking. Her heady mixture of ignorance and arrogance will always provide fodder for comedians, especially satirists such as Stewart.
It was the coverage of Anthony Weiner’s political demise where Stewart shone. It must have been so very difficult for him to pursue Weiner as he did, and needed to do. Unlike Fox News who, with their usual bias, spent the week trying to cover for, yet again, another one of Palin’s idiotic gaffes, Stewart, in a series of brilliant pieces of humour tinged with pathos, did what court jesters do. He told the world the Emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes.
That episode, tight from start to finish, is worthy of another Emmy – sorry Stephen!