Jon Stewart: Payback Without Sacrificing Comedy

At some point Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Dennis Miller and Dick Gregory (to name a few) all stopped being funny because they were too involved in making their point.

I watched Jon Stewart last night. I watched again this afternoon with my parents. Last night’s show was a classic.

The brief backstory is Stewart accused Fox News and Bernard Goldberg of hypocricy. Goldberg fired back. Last night’s show was Stewart’s response.

What made it special is Stewart was able to make his points without sacrificing the show’s purpose–comedy.

Over the years there have been many comedians with points of view who lost their comedic way. At some point Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Dennis Miller and Dick Gregory (to name a few) all stopped being funny because they were too involved in making their point. Not so Stewart. The comedy continues to come first.

Last night’s show is a clinic in how to have your satirical cake and eat it too! Be prepared, though bleeped the underlying (and obvious) language is NSFW.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Bernie Goldberg Fires Back
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

13 thoughts on “Jon Stewart: Payback Without Sacrificing Comedy”

  1. No matter who you are, don’t pick a fight with a comedian with a nightly show! There was some old line about not picking fights with people who buy ink by the barrel- same thing. [I disagree with you re: Miller. The other guys, quite frankly, are relics / legends to me. I saw Miller in Vegas recently and his stand-up remains edgy- he had a good night.]

  2. Not lost his way, are you kidding? He has become Lenny Bruce! The non-funny angry tirades and attempts at humor based that is based in grudges and hatred. At least Lenny had a legitimate gripe.

  3. DAF – You might be right in stand-up, but most people see Dennis Miller only on Fox nowadays. I saw him years ago at Oakdale and he killed. People were laughing at references they obviously didn’t get (Billy Sol Estes, for instance–a scandal during the Johnson administration).

    Jon – This is what I love about blog comments. Thanks for chiming in.

  4. Geoff – way to be condecsending. With simplistically masked passive agressiveness like that, no wonder you think Stewart hasn’t lost his touch.

    1. Jon – Seriously, my comment was meant to be taken at face value. I am glad to see many points of view. If you look back through my comments over the years you’ll see this is true and nothing new from me

      However, in light of your last comment if you’d like to feel like an idiot or ass, you are now entitled. And, again, please take this at face value as written.

      No good deed goes unpunished.

  5. Geoff, totally agree with you re: Miller and FNC. I get your point- I haven’t heard what Miller is doing on radio, either. His stand-up act– there’s nothing really like it or him out there today. I can’t think of a comedy routine that pitches at that level- and you have to applaud him for going that route, in an era where observational comedy is largely indistinguishable. I’d like to see him get an HBO special- he hasn’t had one in a while- just to see what he would do with it.

  6. Billy Sol Estes! (The only way I’d get that is via my grandfather’s Alan Sherman albums- there’s a ballad or something about him on there.)

    To clarify, I’m just talking about stand-up with Dennis Miller. People were crying- it was at Paris, Las Vegas- a good room, by the way. Granted, it was a self-selected crowd. I’m sure that if you were bothered by his politics, you wouldn’t go. (Though the act wasn’t political- it was obscurist, classic Miller- probably what you saw at Oakdale.)

    There are very few writers-performers that can do what he does.

    I also shouldn’t put down Bruce / Sahl / Gregory- no matter what happened to them, they built comedy. Not everyone was a Carlin, who I thought was pretty much pure to the end.

  7. Is it proper blog-poster’s etiquette to post a third time to apologize for an unintentional double post? There must be a special section of the blog-commenter code of conduct for this. Sorry about the double-post, though they don’t completely overlap, at least.

  8. As I remember, Billy Sol was a shyster who sold oil that didn’t exist. His contacts and sales were based on his friendship with LBJ and were made to people who thought they were currying favor with the president.

    I was amazed when Miller made a BSE reference and got screaming laughter! That I know who he is only speaks to the pointlessness of my life.

    By the time I was cognizant of Dick Gregory his comedic career was past tense. I cannot fault him for his courageous fight for civil rights, but he continued to be referred to as a comedian when he obviously was not. Later he became obsessed with dieting.

    Lenny Bruce was so obsessed with his persecution, prosecution and convictions that his stand-up appearances became boring detailed lectures of legal minutiae. Though a breakout star his successes didn’t cover a really long chronological period. I am not sure if he would have stood the test of time. Early death equals forever young.

    Mort Sahl was always referred to as a humorist. That allows you to be less funny than a full comedian. His obsession became the Kennedys. I have found him to be humorous… not funny. I would still tune in today if I knew Mort would be on.

    Sahl’s best story, which I’ll paraphrase, had to do with John Kennedy aboard Air Force One. He told Mort to pray the plane wouldn’t crash because the headline would read: “Kennedy and fifty others die in crash,” giving Mort no billing.

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