Love or hate his politics Jon Stewart is a funny guy. Unlike his comedy compadre Colbert, who has grown tiring with his one joke caricature of conservatives, Stewart does occasionally give a blast to the left as well as the right. The recent “The Race Card is Maxed” sketch with Larry Wilmore is a great example. He is at his best when he is shooting from the hip, being self-deprecating and not taking him too seriously. Is he balanced and evenhanded? I don’t expect him to be. Just as I would not expect Dennis Miller to be “balanced” when he is on O’Reilly.
It’s no wonder failing and flailing CNN would want to have him on for an hour and promote it heavily. I am sure that his ratings outperformed the recently acquired Spitzer/Parker yawnfest or any given hour of the ironically named Joy Behar Show on sister network Headline News. For the past week CNN was pushing the appearance of the “Daily Show” host on “Larry King Live,” as an hour of “Jon Stewart Opens Up.”
I would have loved to see Stewart open up for an hour however that isn’t what I got. The show got off to a good start when Stewart made fun of the falling rating of CNN and the fact that Larry King was leaving just before the ship went down. I especially liked the riff he did about Piers Morgan replacing King.
Then, unfortunately Mr. King tried to take control of the show and what followed, with the exception of a few moments when Stewart wrested control back, was enough to make me want to watch an hour of Christiane Amanpour do stand up or Andy Griffith shilling seniors for Obamacare on an endless loop.
The hour largely turned into a humorless hour long promotion for three of Stewart’s projects, the very worthy “Night of Too Many Stars,” his book “Earth,” and his anti Glenn Beck rally in Washington. Stewart denied any connection between his “Restoring Sanity” rally and Beck’s hugely successful “Restoring Honor” event. Several times Stewart made the point that he already had the idea before Beck did his rally. This was an obvious dodge of the truth. I get the joke Jon, Beck and his followers are nuts but you and Mr. Colbert will restore sanity. Embrace the joke, don’t run from it!
King spent several minutes talking to Stewart about the Porta Potties needed for the Washington rally to set up a painfully unfunny gift of one to Stewart. Larry, if you have a great comic on your show let him do the comedy.
The show really bogged down when Stewart forgot he was a comedian and fell into Maher/Franken territory and started doing serious analysis. Why are the Democrats about to be voted out of office en masse? People are “upset with the status quo,” said Stewart. Which is why Obama got elected but we’ll let that be for now. They are willing to elect fresh fruit according to Stewart. I wonder who he might be referring to with that comment?
Perhaps Mr. Stewart was most clearly out of his element when he said that Obama was in trouble because he had failed to lay out, “a clear path of where he was going.” No Jon, Mr. Obama has laid out a very clear path and most of us don’t care for it all that much. You’ll see that on November 2nd.