Comedian and host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show Jon Stewart performed at SUNY Brockport on Saturday, Dec. 1. With merely a stool, a microphone, and a bottle of water set up on the stage, this show seemed reminiscent of the sort of late-night stand-up comedy that one sees on Comedy Central. While exceptionally humorous on The Daily Show, Stewart proved that his comedy transcends the cable format, as his performance was consistently met with uproars of laughter throughout the night.
After driving past Rochester on the way to Brockport, Stewart explained to the audience that there was no way he was going to spend the night there, as a result of its sometimes menacing-looking downtown at night. The audience roared with laughter when Stewart called Rochester “the kind of town where after 10, you can’t get anything to eat, but you can buy a dildo on any street corner.”
The comedian went on to a more conversationalist style, at times actively eliciting the audience’s reactions. On several occasions, Stewart asked what the audience wanted to talk about. At one point, someone’s walkie-talkie went off, and the comedian then spent a good while having a humorous conversation with both the owner of it and the person backstage with the other walkie-talkie. It was this active audience participation that engaged the audience and separated Stewart from those comedians that simply pontificate and ramble onstage.
Stewart spent the beginning of the night joking about Canadians. After remarking that they “look just like us, but have no personalities,” Stewart explained his hostility by saying, “I don’t trust any country that looks around a continent and says, ‘Hey, I’ll take the frozen part.'” At one point, Stewart remarked that everyone in the room “could probably take Canada right now.”
Quips about Canada were not the only thing that made the show however, as Stewart also discussed recent issues as well. After asking if anyone in the audience had anthrax, the comedian remarked, “Like it doesn’t suck enough to work in the mail room.”
Stewart also discussed the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda network during his performance, saying that they had just learned the art of sarcasm and were walking around Osama bin Laden saying “Oh, we’re gonna have a big holy war. What a great idea. The West will never attack us.” Needless to say, this went over well with the audience and helped to relieve some of the stress from reading the recent news.
The most memorable line of the whole night involved the now-widespread phrase of “If we don’t do it, the terrorists will win,” with more of a sexual twist to it. Stewart said men have always tried to relate the news into getting more sexual favors. While it may seem distasteful out of context, Stewart’s unique viewpoint gave relief to an issue that everyone needs a bit of relief from.
Perhaps realizing that some of his comments were a bit obscene and used a good amount of unprintable language, Stewart looked out at the crowd and remarked, “I’ll bet you’re all looking around right now, saying to yourselves, ‘You’re not the nice man from the TV. Where’s the nice man from the TV?'”
Some of the more interesting and entertaining points Stewart raised regarded homosexuality. In discussing people’s objection to allowing gay people to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Stewart said, “Sure, you don’t want some gay guy checking you out while you’re peeing on a wall.”
Stewart also pointed out that “The Boy Scouts are already the gayest organization in existence. To me, ‘gay’ is thousands of young boys in neckerchiefs waiting for next year’s big ‘Jamboree.'”
The comedian also posed a relevant question regarding homosexuality, “What are people really afraid of ? that gay people will be so convincing?”
Stewart also brought humor to several other issues. Regarding cloning, Stewart wondered about the motivation behind it, saying, “I know what will solve our problems. More people!” The comedian also tackled religion, with the line “The Pope is one hat-choice away from being grand wizard of the KKK.” He also discussed drug use, saying “Sure, Kurt Cobain did heroin, but so did Corey Feldman.”
After the show, I was fortunate enough to meet Jon Stewart and ask him a few questions, along with reporters from the SUNY Brockport campus. Unlike a certain so-called comedian that visited the UR campus during Meliora weekend, Stewart was very generous, even letting me talk with him. While a bit more serious off-stage, Stewart still entertained the much-smaller room with both his physical antics and responses to questions.
Talking about his college experiences, Stewart said that he started off as chemistry major, but switched to psychology during his junior year because “in chemistry, there are right and wrong answers.”
The comedian said it was extremely difficult getting a job with a psychology major. Stewart joked that after telling an employer that he studied human behavior for the last four years, the employer responded by asking, “Can you type?”
Stewart also said that it was extremely tough putting on the New York-based The Daily Show after September 11. “It was difficult right after the events, and everyone was in absolute shock and horror,” he said. “I think humor got us back to feeling alive.”
Perhaps this is why Jon Stewart entertained us all that night. Perhaps we have all felt a bit in shock ever since the terror acts, but for those that went, the comedian provided humor that dealt with sensationalist events reported by the media. Because the audience could so directly relate to his humor,
Stewart provided a lot of laughter to people that have gone without for the last couple of months.
“An Evening with Jon Stewart” made everyone feel alive again ? I know that I do.
Schnee can be reached at email@example.com.