The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

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.