Aug 6, 2015

So Farewell, Then: Jon Stewart

'There’s been a demob-happy, end-of-school looseness to Jon Stewart as he counts down the days to his final show on Thursday night. For one thing he has been counting, with undisguised glee, blowing kisses to Donald Trump not just for being a gift from the gods — “comedy entrapment” as he put it — but for helping push him across the finishing line. The restlessness he gave as a reason for leaving the show has started to show itself, and the raggedness has only further fuelled his candor. Doing a bit on Mike Huckabee’s characterization of Obama’s Iran deal as marching Israel “to the door of the ovens,” Stewart bypassed words altogether, miming slack-jawed amazement, eye-popping incredulity and Scooby-doo befuddlement (“Urrgh?”) in what amounted to a small masterclass of silent clowning. The idea for the bit seemed to come from Stewart’s dismay at having to write another eye-rolling commentary for another burst of Republican crazy-talk, depletion forcing further invention from him. Exhausted, he still riffs, in part because exhaustion is the correct response to a country in which a deal aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons is compared the holocaust. American pop-culture success is dependent on doing two things extremely well: a very complicated thing and a very simple thing. The complicated thing that Stewart did well has been the subject of the many tributes comparing him to Edward R Murrow and A J Libeling. Stewart combed the broadcast pronouncements of America’s public figures, painstakingly researching their inconsistencies and teasing out their humbug in video montages that made their hypocrisy seem almost self-evident, then sat in frank, eye-rolling amazement at the low-hanging fruit with which he seemed to have been presented. By the end, so primed were the audience for his mugging that he shaved it down to the most minimal of expressions: a cocked eyebrow, a look of deadpan despair, a jowly double take.  Like Sloppy in Dickens Our Mutual Friend, he could “do the police in different voices” tending to   a small barnyard of favorite impressions, reducing Dick Cheney to a single quack, Bush to a Mutley-esque laugh (“heh-heh-heh”), and Trump to de Niro-esque New Joisey thug.' — from my farewell to Jon Stewart for The Economist

No comments:

Post a Comment