Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jersey Boys

I know not whether it was coincidence or irony that on the same day that NBC announced that Brian Williams would be taking an involuntary, unpaid, six-month vacation from his position as Anchor of the NBC Nightly News, Jon Stewart announced his own voluntary and presumably permanent departure from The Daily Show on Comedy Central.   Two Jersey Boys whose bones have been made on television, each exiting the stage, albeit at different times (while Stewart is stepping away at some point in 2015, his specific date of departure has not yet been determined) and under decidedly different circumstances.  

Whether you are a fan of Mr. Stewart's program or you are a humorless dink, you shall miss him.  Over the course of the past seventeen years on the job (or as he put it when he announced his departure to his stunned studio audience, "Sixteen years and five months longer" than any other job he has ever held), Stewart transformed his program into a platform.   He reminded us - and some among our number he reminded repeatedly and in a manner that made them more than a tad uncomfortable - that humor need not always simply be a play for laughs.  It can be a tool for thought.  It can be a means by which serious issues of the day are discussed and are presented for consumption by an audience that otherwise might not be included within the target audience for such discussion by other "learned" individuals.  He reminded us that laughing and thinking are not mutually exclusive bodily functions.  Much like walking and chewing gum at the same time, through muscle memory and exercise, they can be experienced simultaneously. 

If pressed for three examples of why I, for one, consider Mr. Stewart to be an important voice addressing the important issues of the day - irrespective of the name of the network that airs his program, I would offer these.  First, the opening he did on September 20, 2001, which was the first night that The Daily Show returned to the air following the September 11 attacks.  The clip is lengthy but it is - I submit - worth the investment of nine minutes of your time.  I felt it was worth nine minutes of my time anyway.  Second, his announcement just two nights ago on-air at the conclusion of the program of his intended departure from The Daily Show.   

Third, and finally, included among Stewart's comments regarding the exhaustive media coverage of Brian Williams and his suspension from NBC News was this dart, "The media is on it.  Now this may seem like overkill but not for me.  No, it's not overkill because I am happy finally someone is being held to account for misleading America about the Iraq war.  It might not necessarily be the first person you'd want held accountable on that list but never again will Brian Williams mislead a nation about being shot at in a war we probably wouldn't have ended up in if we had applied this level of scrutiny to the actual fucking war.

If only.  Indeed.  


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