Jon Stewart

Actually Seeing Personal Heroes - "Thank you, Stu Johnson!" - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Within the past week and a half, I've seen three people in person who, at some point or another, I've basically wished I could be. Or people with whom I've at least wished I could spend the rest of my life. Not even necessarily in a romantic, let's-get-married kind of a way. I just always want to know what they think about everything.

Not this past Tuesday but last Tuesday I went to a book launch event at my acting school, The Barrow Group. One of the co-artistic directors, founders, and excellent teachers, Seth Barrish, was having his book, An Actor's Companion, published by the Theatre Communications Group! And there were tons of fellow Barrow Group students there, as well as Barrow Group alumni. There was a talk with Seth moderated by his friend and comedian Mike Birbiglia (maybe you've heard of him) and there was another famous alumna there: Anne Hathaway. Guys, in case you couldn't tell, she's a pretty big inspiration for me. When people ask what role in movies could I see myself playing, my answer is always Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries. And, you know, you've gotten to know me pretty well over the course of this blog so far. You know by now that I'm pretty outgoing, and I am very proud of being a New Yorker. And New Yorkers do not freak out over celebrity. But... I couldn't talk to her. I couldn't form sentences. I was just thrilled to be breathing the same air as her. One day I'll talk to her, when I've gotten further in my career and I can be... not an equal, perhaps, but something only a few levels below that.

This past Sunday I was texting a friend of mine when he reminded me that he was working UCB's Del Close Marathon, and he could hook me up. So, you know, who am I to say no to an offer like that? I had a busy day - worked on material for an audition, shot an episode of Telemazing - but then I headed over to FIT, met my friend, and he let me into the standing room at the back of the theater. I was watching some excellent improv ("Oh no, it's Schlomo, the bad boy from Hebrew school!" "I cut class... every once in a while." "What a reasonable level of anarchy.") and I recognized Matt Walsh by his mustache and that was cool. And there was a woman performing on stage and I thought "wow, she sounds just like Amy Poehler." Until slowly I realized that the show featured most of the founding members of UCB. And that the woman who sounds just like Amy Poehler really was Amy Poehler. (And, I assume, she still is her.) For the next show (with some help from my friend) I managed to make it up to sit in the very front of the theater, and I saw the Del Close Marathon's final show, Asssscat with said founding members as well as several other big names in comedy, but most importantly I was 20 feet away from Amy Poehler less than a week after finishing Yes Please and it was amazing. I literally cried from laughter. It was amazing.

And then there was two days ago. A day for which I had planned and worked hard and got very lucky. On Tuesday, June 30th, 2015, I saw the taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

(Two photos from my seat in the studio... one nice one, and one that came out with a bit too much of what happens when you're too excited for a photograph: crazy eyes.)

Guys, I love Jon Stewart. You already know this. I've written academic papers (plural) about him. I was at the Rally to Restore Sanity. I saw Rosewater in theaters. I've written blog posts about him on this very website. I was going to reiterate everything that he means to me, but... screw it, I just linked to that blog post. Suffice it to say he is an incredibly important person to me. And I've always wanted to see the show live. And on Tuesday I did it! I was fluttery all day! I made friends with other Jon Stewart fans while waiting (for five hours) in line to actually get my tickets! I had ticket #13! I laughed like an asshole and cheered loud and long and, while nobody else would pick it up, I can hear myself in the end broadcast. (If you really listen, I'm the one with the really long, really high pitched "woo" who is almost always the last one to stop doing it.) And it was magical just to be in the studio.

As usual in my posts, I'm not sure I have a point that I'm going for here. I wanted to maybe talk about what they all have in common? But that's not really it. They're all very much themselves, and that's one of the things that we all love about them. I might've talked about charisma, and how they all have it, and how that's what separates the personalities we all love from the ones who we all love to hate? But that seems like such a dry analysis for such extraordinary people. (Don't get me wrong, they are all incredibly charismatic, but that's really not what I want to go for here.)

So I guess the main point of this post is just... to brag about how many amazing people I got to see in the past week. Oops. Sorry, not sorry at all.

(And seriously, if you ever get the chance to see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart before August 6th, you should absolutely take it!!)

Jon Stewart Leaving The Daily Show - "Oh my god! It's Hitler! He's back! Somebody save Jon Stewart! He's our most important Jew!" - Family Guy

In late spring 2009, I wrote a paper about how Tina Fey (particularly as Sarah Palin), Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart influenced our view of the Bush presidency, and the 2008 election. I didn't do that well on it. But, in all fairness, I was writing it for my AP US History class in late May/early June. Who assigns a major paper after you've already taken the AP exam?

In the fall of 2010, I wrote a very similar paper for Brandeis University. A ten page essay about how Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart affected the 2008 election. This time I got an A. To this day, it is something of which I am very proud.

Also in the fall of 2010, I paid somewhere around $80 to the Brandeis Democrats; a club with plenty of passion and drive and not a lot to immediately do at one of the most liberal universities in one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal states in one of the most liberal parts of the country. But I gave them this money and even briefly joined the club in order to get a seat on the bus they had going down to Washington DC to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. It was one of my favorite days of my college years, I remember Jon Stewart's keynote speech to this day, and I probably always will.

I nearly cried when I heard that Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited to see what else he can and will do! I absolutely loved Rosewater, and if he does more things like that, it will be a wonderful thing for indie film! And I know he still has a point of view, and an incredibly enviable position from which to express it, meaning that he absolutely will continue to do so. It's not like he's retiring or vanishing from public life, and I rest comfortably in the knowledge that he will still be around, making incredible things.

But man. Jon Stewart at The Daily Show has had such a profound influence on my life. He's the one that taught me the influence that comedy can have. It's through watching this show that I firmly believe that the best way of speaking truth to power is by making power laugh. There is no better way to undermine something terrible than by making it absurd, and I know that because of him. (And, in all fairness, also Mel Brooks. But that doesn't quite fit in with the point of this post right now!) And Jon Stewart is the man who taught me how to not just accept the facts that are given to me, research everything for myself, and argue back. I am almost certainly a different person than I would otherwise have been because I watch his show.

I was going to write another paragraph about how much I admire him, how, while I desperately don't want to see him leave, I am awed at what he's done for and on television, and how I can't wait to see what he will do next, whether it be in television, in film, or even in straight up politics. (Honestly, he is such a smart, passionate man who genuinely knows about The Issues that I would legitimately be happy to vote him into any political office he might choose.) But you know, I think I've already gotten that point across. So instead, I'm just going to embed video of his speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity. Because it may not have been from The Daily Show itself, but it shows the kind of work he does, the kind of viewpoint he is a true champion of, and the manI will so miss on my TV screen four nights a week after he leaves in September/December/July/the-details-are-still-being-worked-out.

And then I'm embedding a video of the end of a bit of his that I absolutely love, and will one day send to an ex. This bit, for the record, is absolutely not safe to play at work.

Enjoy.


"The truth is anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you." - The Colbert Report, Pilot

The Colbert Report ended tonight, you guys. And I'm genuinely upset about it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for Stephen Colbert! He's going to go on to the Late Show! And I'm absolutely certain he's going to be amazing.

I'm genuinely not sure I've ever cried because a show was ending before, though. I know I've cried because of the things that have happened in TV finales. But you better believe that I had literal tears streaming down my face for pretty much half of the show tonight, just because it is no longer going to be on the air.

For that to not sound totally insane, I need you to understand just how much I respect and admire this man. I watched his show religiously almost since it started airing. ("Religiously" in that yeah, I've missed episodes, and there have even been chunks of time when I would prioritize other things above it and maybe even not see it for months at a time, but I still always came back to it, and I felt guilty whenever I'd miss a week.) I've written multiple academic papers about how he, along with Jon Stewart/The Daily Show and Tina Fey/Sarah Feylin, influenced the 2008 presidential election. I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Hell, I've even gone to comic cons dressed up as him!

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He has been an inspiration on my TV or computer screen every Monday through Thursday evening. Or, more realistically, he has been an inspiration on my TV or computer screen every Tuesday through Friday afternoon when I actually got around to watching The Colbert Report on my TiVo or online.

I feel like I'm talking about Stephen Colbert as if he's died, which is certainly not what I mean to do! I know that he will continue to be an inspiration every weeknight starting... well, he starts the Late Show in the summer, I think, so he will continue to be an inspiration after a bit of a break. I just want to properly memorialize what an incredible thing he did with nine years at The Colbert Report. It's the most important and influential piece of satire I've have ever and probably will ever experience. (And before anyone with an English degree asks, yeah, I've read "A Modest Proposal.") He's an extraordinary, intelligent, sharp, and funny man. And, if interviews and the things that people have said about him are to be believed, he's a kind, warm, and friendly human being, as well. He could've had anyone he wanted for his last ever guest last night, and instead of having on some crazy celebrity, or someone who could help him be self-congratulatory, he had on a short story writer to talk about experiences in Iraq, particularly through the war. If that's not the action of the best kind of person, I don't know what is.

Basically, with the end of The Colbert Report, I think this is just an especially good time to remember all that he has done, and how proud I am and always will be to be a member of the Colbert Nation.

Finally... can I just say how excited I am for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore that will be taking his time slot? Like, not just because diversity in late night (although that is certainly very, very exciting!) but also just because Larry Wilmore is incredibly funny, and I can't wait to see what he does with his own spin on current events! January 19th! It's gonna be great. I can feel it.

"There are only two things I love in this world: Everybody and television!" - 30 Rock, "Believe in the Stars" (S3E2)

I was once having a conversation with an incredible woman who was directing a show that I was in at the time. We were both theater students at Brandeis then, and we were discussing, between film, television, and theater, which simulates real life the most.

She made the argument that theater does. Live performance is just that - it's live. It's really happening right then as you're living, and even assuming you're watching a traditional play where the lines are all rehearsed and memorized, and you're working with a theater set that has to be slightly fudged to work in a theater space (you cannot build a full house for a play that takes place in a home, after all,) anything still can happen. Things change, lines get messed up, and the production still has to deal with all of that and move on. Every performance is different, making the show a living, breathing thing on its own. And because of all of that, theater most closely simulates real life.

I disagree, however. Not about the performance itself - live theater is certainly the most live, as it's, well, live. But I think the most true-to-life medium, by far, is television.

Guys, I love television so much.

Not to say that I don't love film, theater, or webseries! (Webserieses? Websierae? Websieri?) They all absolutely have their advantages, and there are amazing works in all of them, and I love them! Don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to say that I think one is better than the others.

But I really do love television. The very thing that draws me to it is one of its major defining features - how episodic it is. I love how it comes on every week, and something new happens. The story doesn't just open and shut. It can't be neatly summed up in two or three hours. Television stories wind, and take tangents, and weird things happen, and people come in and out, and they take weeks and weeks to happen. Usually there are multiple storylines where every person is doing something different and working towards a different goal. Characters change at the same pace that we do. Characters grow old, and pass milestones in their life. And often, you keep going past the happy ending to see what comes next. (See: Monica and Chandler's relationship in Friends. Do not see: Ted and Tracy in the broadcast ending of How I Met Your Mother. That went way too far past the happy ending, and I'm still not over it. But that's a blog post for another day.)

Even television that isn't based around a specific story is great. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, under the guise of a comedic parody of a news show does legitimately fantastic reporting on some issue or another that I barely even knew about before he talked about it. As much as it's kind of depressing that Jon Stewart is considered the most trusted newscaster in America when he's not a newscaster, he manages to make a demographic of people care about politics when they otherwise might not have. In fact, I've written academic papers about the effect that Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Tina Fey (as "Sarah Fey-lin") had on the 2008 presidential election. At some point or another we've all dreamed about hosting Saturday Night Live. And, especially at its peak, the go-to conversation topic for most of us was what happened in the past week on American Idol. Television brings us together, and creates countless phenomenons that, in many ways, have shaped our modern culture as a whole.

...I, clearly, have a hard time shutting up when it comes to television. So I'm just going to stop now before this ordinary blog post turns into a full-on academic paper.

But guys, I love television so much.