I’ve been struggling for weeks to come up with a farewell toast to Jon Stewart.
I will miss him terribly. Five words. That’s it.
Every time I try to get beyond that, nothing but schmaltz.
So, to take a page from The Daily Show – to tickle and kibitz rather than hammer and yammer – I choose to assume a courtside seat and appraise some of the tens of thousands of words being dribbled over Stewart’s departure this week.
Editor David Remnick, in The New Yorker, sought to compare Stewart to cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902), Will Rogers, Mort Sahl, Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Molly Picon and Professor Irwin Corey – with a slight detour to Philip Roth – before settling on A. J. Liebling.
Molly Picon? Seriously? Another question: How many names can a name-dropper drop when a name-dropper can drop names?
Remnick also agreed with right-wingers who dispute Stewart’s assertion he’s a political centrist, assigning him a position with the lefties.
One such analyst is columnist Konrad Yakabuski of the Globe and Mail, who proclaimed: “It really is time for Mr. Stewart to go.” Why? Because “his rants became increasingly self-righteous and contemptuous toward anyone who didn’t share his elite liberal worldview.”
So, tell me, Ms. Palin, what do you think of the lamestream Canadian media?
Another carnivore in elephant’s clothing, David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun, appearing with Howard Kurtz on Fox News, called Stewart “a tool of the Obama administration” and “a propagandist.”
Thankfully, neither Zurawik nor Kurtz allied Stewart with Goebbels, in keeping with Fox’s predilection to brand its antagonists Nazis.
A symbiotic relationship between Stewart and Fox News was the focus of the thesis put forth by Will Leitch of Bloomberg News, though it’s unclear who plays the roles of the suckerfish and the shark. Regardless, Leitch wrote, Stewart will be gone, “but Fox News is still here.”
Thank god there will be soldiers fighting the war on Christmas again this year.
Some in the media seemed to approach Stewart from somewhere in left field – and not the political left.
David Hinckley and Don Kaplan in the New York Daily News disbursed many words and paragraphs before concluding that Stewart was unlike Carson, Letterman, Fallon, Kimmel, Conan and Chelsea Handler.
Good game. I’ll play (omitting those already named by David Remnick).
Jon Stewart is not like: Aristophanes, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Woody Allen, Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker, Jimmy Durante, Milton Berle, Bob Newhart, Jonathan Winters, Lucille Ball, Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Dean Martin, Steve Martin, John Candy, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Zach Galifianakis, Josh Gad, Billy Crystal, Roseanne Barr, Bernie Mac, Sarah Silverman, Ellen DeGeneres, Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett, Jackie Mason, Phil Silvers, Rodney Dangerfield, Redd Foxx, Abbott and Costello, Cheech and Chong, Bill Cosby, Phyllis Diller, Carrot Top, Tiny Tim, Marcel Marceau, all Three Stooges, all the Pythons, and Mister Ed.
That, sir, is how many names a name-dropper can drop.
Sorry, back to Whatshisname from The Daily Show, and a couple of odd assertions.
First, Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone: “So you have to suspect Stewart doesn’t care all that deeply whether The Daily Show can carry on without him. It looks like he’s more worried about whether America can carry on at all.”
Thank you, Doctor.
And this from Tony Wong in the Toronto Star: “His lasting impact will be in his upending of the media apparatus. Over the years, as networks struggled with cutbacks and the multi-channel universe, Stewart has been a vocal critic of the dumbing down of news, including taking shots at cable networks for reporting with a political agenda at the expense of truth.”
Do you read your own newspaper?
Now, it’s time for dessert – if you have a taste for chicken fat.
Julie Hinds, in the Detroit Free Press: “Stewart is leaving? Who are we going to turn to for an honest take on things now?”
Hal Boedeker, the “TV Guy,” in the Orlando Sentinel: “Genius and generosity are a rare combo in show business, but Stewart has exemplified that wonderful mix. He helped America through many a troubled night with his wit. Thanks for the memories.”
Since Stewart announced last February that he was leaving the show, he has reminded guests and his audience: “I’m not dying.”
The message apparently didn’t reach Hank Stuever of the Washington Post, whose 1,650-word wet dream on The Daily Show host will surely serve as the first draft of an advance obit.
I will leave you – no kibitzing necessary – with Stuever’s final paragraph:
“It may be a sappy way to send The Daily Show off – like Glinda the Good Witch telling Dorothy Gale that the ruby slippers on her feet had the power to send her home all along – but that’s how it feels: You had the power all along. You are on your own Jon Stewart now.”