Tag Archives: Jon Stewart

Heeeeeere’s Johnny!

Nineteen years ago today, Johnny Carson said goodbye.

Retiring after thirty years at the age of 66, Carson walked away from a show that became part of the fabric of American pop culture. Much like Ed Sullivan’s variety show, unknown performers could become instant superstars just by nailing a single appearance. Carson didn’t start the Tonight Show (Steve Allen and Jack Paar preceded him), nor would he finish it, but his impact upon it and the late-night talk show design will forever be paramount.

Other talk shows of the day were warm and fuzzy (Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas) or a bit cerebral (Dick Cavett); Carson blended both with a parade of incredible guests and a willingness to be as serious or silly as the situation required. He let people be themselves. During his reign, the show’s title became secondary to the man; artists simply referred to “being on Carson“.

On his final night, Carson went out with grace and class:

And so it has come to this: I, uh… am one of the lucky people in the world; I found something I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it. I want to thank the gentlemen who’ve shared this stage with me for thirty years. Mr. Ed McMahon, Mr. Doc Severinsen, and you people watching. I can only tell you that it has been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you. And I hope when I find something that I want to do and I think you would like and come back that you’ll be as gracious in inviting me into your home as you have been. I bid you a very heartfelt good night.”

Video: Excerpts from the final show

Although he never came back into the public eye, his legacy lives on through everyone who speaks into a microphone from behind a desk, and the advent of cable television has allowed many students to co-exist in the form. While initially his replacement Jay Leno and his protegé David Letterman split the bulk of the audience, a flood of worthy children now occupy the night-time hours and will be worthy successors to their aging mentors.

Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher have taken the political end of the spectrum to new heights; Stewart is often singled out as the most trusted source of news on television, despite his consistent disclaimer that his is a comedy show. (Speaks volumes about the networks, doesn’t it?).

After holding slots previously occupied by both Leno and Letterman, Conan O’Brien’s new TBS effort proved that people will follow the man, not the show. The embarrassing NBC debacle was followed by the guerilla Team Coco movement, and Conan remains a strong brand and a unique personality.

After shaky starts, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and especially Jimmy Fallon have proven to have solid and consistent programs that attract first-rate guests and feature brilliant writing. Along with smaller network show hosts (Chelsea Handler, George Lopez, Mo’Nique, Graham Norton), the comedy/music/chat formula is in good hands.

But to a person, each will point a finger back at the master, Johnny Carson.

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Comedy Awards Tonight!

I’ve sat through countless other awards – why not for comedy?

Tonight at 9pm Eastern on Comedy Central, the first Comedy Awards will be broadcast. I’m not certain whether I can say “first annual” since the promotion for the show lists it as a historic, one-night-only celebration”.

According to the website, nominees were selected by The Comedy Awards Board of Directors, which includes: James Burrows, Stephen Colbert, Billy Crystal, James Dixon, Budd Friedman, Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Grey, Caroline Hirsch, Blair Kohan, Martin Lesak, Steve Levine, Seth MacFarlane, Adam McKay, Jimmy Miller, Conan O’Brien, Peter Principato, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Jay Roach, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Rory Rosegarten, Phil Rosenthal, Michael Rotenberg, George Schlatter, Sharon Sheinwold Jackson, Mitzi Shore, David Steinberg,Jon Stewart, Lily Tomlin, Sandy Wernick and Geof Wills. That’s an odd mix of the deserving and the obscure.

You are also able to log on for the simulcast, which starts at 8:45 and features commentary by Andy Daly and Jen Kirkman along with red carpet interviews by Christian Finnegan. Andy and Jen will also host a series of short intermissions throughout the show with more interviews and coverage of the backstage press conference. Among the interviewees are Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Louis CK, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Kristin Schaal, Olivia Munn, Craig Robinson, Questlove & The Roots, Ty Burrell, Chloe Moretz, The Gregory Brothers, Rob Corddry and more.

Here are your categories and nominees for the event. Since the actual event took place on March 26th, you could spoil everything by looking up the winners or even watching the acceptance speeches. But that would only be funny if you could find a stupid person to wager with.

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…and now, The Oscars

Finally, the big daddy of the back-patting events is upon us.

Tonight’s Oscar hosts are James Franco and Anne Hathaway, as the industry makes an obvious ploy to skew younger. That sentiment probably won’t carry over into the actual voting, where veteran actors who might have been bypassed earlier in their careers get rewarded at the expense of a newcomer who has his whole career ahead of him. Really…Al Pacino won for Scent Of A Woman? Paul Newman won for The Color Of Money?

And sometimes this screws over a more deserving veteran actor. Yes, I’m talking to you, Henry Fonda! No way Burt Lancaster shouldn’t have won in 1981 for his amazing performance in Atlantic City!)

But I digress. The Oscar host thing has always been a conundrum. Bob Hope owned the role for years, as did Johnny CarsonBilly Crystal did it well and got to keep the job for a while, seemingly alternating every couple of years with Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg. But lately it’s been as volatile and unpredictable as a Charlie Sheen alibi; the only repeat host in the last ten years was Jon Stewart in 2006 and 2008 (Steve Martin hosted in 2003 but co-hosted in 2010). Stewart was excellent, but has the grind of his Daily Show schedule. But Wolverine Hugh Jackman was incredibly game and entertaining and got raves for his stint, yet wasn’t asked to repeat?

Perhaps tonight will be fine; Franco is a likeable guy, and Hathaway proved she is as fearless as she is talented when she joined Jackman onstage a few years ago. But for the self-proclaimed “Hollywood’s Biggest Night“, one would expect a real game-changer at the helm. And as afraid of him as they obviously are, I think any awards show not hiring Ricky Gervais is settling.

Here is the list of nominees.

I’m pretty much sticking with the picks I made right after the nominations came out, although The King’s Speech has picked up incredible momentum since then, along with Geoffrey Rush. But I have a feeling that the Darren Aronofsky magic touch will again become the Darren Aronofsky curse; Mickey Rourke lost to more established Hollywood veteran Sean Penn, and Annette Bening has never won for Best Actress despite four nominations. (No truth to the rumor that Natalie Portman got pregnant to sway the sympathy vote.) I also wouldn’t bet my life on Supporting Actress, as this is a category where teenagers can and do win, especially when they are playing more of a lead role.

My predictions for tonight’s winners:

Best Picture: The Social Network
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
Best Actress: Annette Bening, The Kids Are Alright
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Best Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan, Inception
Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister, Inception
Best Score: Trent Reznor, The Social Network

While you await tonight’s ceremony here are some treats to pass the time:

Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter act out the Best Picture nominees

Ricky Gervais wrote an opening script for Franco and Hathaway

You can bet on anything – even the In Memorium montage.

Racetrack odds on tonight’s favorites to Win…Place and Show mean nothing!

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Tomorrow: The winners, the losers, the analysis.

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Happy Birthday, Jon Stewart

The quality of a man is determined by the company he keeps.

A successful man makes those around him better.

Jon Stewart must be a successful, quality guy. The Daily Show has won fourteen Emmy Awards in the category of Comedy, Music or Variety Series- six for Outstanding Writing and eight consecutive awards for Outstanding Program. He and his staff of writers have obviously been doing things right since 1999. I mean, I like Craig Kilbourn, but the only time I associate hm with the program is when consciously recounting the history of the program, even though it was his attitude behind the host’s desk that set the stage for Stewart’s success. So thanks, Craig!

Speaking of springboards to success, thanks again John. Thanks for John Oliver and Samantha Bee and Larry Wilmot and Stephen Colbert. Thanks for Steve Carell, Ron Corddry, Wyatt Cenac, Rob Riggle, John Hodgman, Rachael Harris and Ed Helms.

And – I must bow when I say this – thank you for Lewis Black.

Thanks for your blatant admission of being a comedian and not a newsman, yet presenting a more interesting, informative and well-balanced news show than all of the other networks combined. Thanks for not backing away or backing down, and especially not cracking from the sheer volumes of lunacy that surround us every day. Thanks for using humor and satire like a sword and a beacon, to cut through the fog and a to illuminate our social frailties and political illnesses.

 Thanks for constantly poking holes in the airbags that are Fox News and MSNBC and somehow making Comedy Central a far more credible source for news and information than two of the most highly funded global organizations in the news business.

Thanks for making me laugh…and think.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Stewart. Here’s your moment of Zen.

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Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Schedule as of Friday; for updates, click here.

If you can’t be in Washington DC, find a local gathering.

PRE-PRE SHOW — 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Video montages/music will play on the Jumbotrons around the venue to entertain the crowd as they gather.

PRESHOW — 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

12:00 – 12:40 — THE ROOTS will play for the crowd.

12:40 – 12:57 — Comedian (TBD) will warm-up the audience.

12:57 – 1:00 — Video countdown & intros

SHOW — 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

1:00 – 1:05 SINGING OF THE NATIONAL ANTHEM — Musical guest (TBD)

1:05 – 1:20 JON STEWART welcomes the crowd

1:20 – 1:30 STEPHEN COLBERT enters

1:30 – 1:35 BENEDICTION by actor Don Novello

1:35 – 1:40 POEM read by actor Sam Waterston

1:40 – 1:50 JEFF TWEEDY & MAVIS STAPLES perform

1:50 – 2:15 JON & STEPHEN perform

2:15 – 2:20 SHERYL CROW performs

2:20 – 2:30 SPEAKERS Guests make brief statements, both LIVE and TAPE (TBD)

2:30 – 2:40 MUSICAL GUEST (TBD)

2:40 – 2:40 SANITY & FEAR awards – PRETAPED footage.

2:50 – 3:00 JON AND STEPHEN’S FINAL STATEMENTS

3:00 – ???  SANITY RESTORED IN AMERICA

(Let’s hope that last one lasts at least until Wednesday…)

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Tips For Sanity

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” (JFK)

You’d probably guess that I’m not a staunch right-wing Republican, but if you have me pegged as a radical left-leaning Democrat you’d be just as wrong. I’ve been an Independent since the age of 18, and while that prevents me from voting in the primaries for the two major parties, it hasn’t stopped both of them from peppering my phone, my email, and my daily life with a flood of nonsensical negative advertising. Really, people – is anyone swayed by these ridiculous scare tactics? If anything it makes me want to avoid the booth on Election Day…but I suspect that’s just what they want.

How sad is it that the only rational bi-partisan discussions of the issues are occurring on a comedy channel? And how ironic is it that the most trusted newsman in America – a title long held by Walter Cronkite – is now Jon Stewart…who is not a newsman?

While I’m no hardcore conspiracy theorist, I do believe that corporations have become more powerful than countries, for they are single-minded beasts focused upon their own survival and they will eat their young to accomplish this. And yes, in a world where money doesn’t talk – it screams – I firmly believe that there are many movers and shakers perfectly content to keep us fat, drunk and happy in front of our televisions and game consoles. The literacy rate in America is frighteningly low, and the isolation of our people through the very technology that was supposed to make our lives better is absolutely terrifying. And there are many who will feed on that weakness to instill fear and panic. And yes, they will eat us if we let them.

I’m amazed at how brazen some of our political crooks have been, and almost as shocked at how dim-witted some of our most popular political wanna-bes are. The job of President has changed from trusted leader to blame victim, where the rocks fly at the pedestal before the winner is even sworn in. I don’t believe that George Bush was an evil man, just a guy in way over his head who was being controlled by more sinister people on the background. And no, Obama is not the Anti-Christ, just a guy trying to solve a dozen crippling problems at once with a lack of support and not enough time. Our problems didn’t appear overnight, and it will take a while to rectify them.

But there is Fox News, spouting hyperbole through the mouths of con artists like Limbaugh and Beck and religious zealots like Hannity. And on the other side, Olbermann and Maddow swat down their foolishness with the same slanted logic and carefully chosen arguments, just from the other side of the coin. Both Fox and MSNBC trot out a legion of experts and analysts who are simply echoing the party lines, and this madness is just escalated to that much more white noise when elections draw near.

Enough!

If you made it this far, you can read and think, and that’s a lot more credit than you are getting from the panic media. So as we approach this important mid-term election, I encourage you to do just that – read and think – and make up your own mind. Refuse to honor these negative ads. Look at a candidate’s statements and accomplishments. Challenge blanket bullshit statements like “I will cut taxes” and “I will create jobs” – ask how! And then when you get in that booth, enjoy that freedom that our forefathers fought so hard to attain.

Tomorrow is the Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear at the Mall in Washington DC. Maybe there’s one final chance for people to stop listening to the fringe maniacs and realize what we already know – most of us are sane, logical, caring people who love our country and way of life and are tired of being lied to and taken for granted. Whether you learned the lesson 234 years ago or you learned it this decade, remember that we stand together or we perish.

Here are Ten Tasteful Themes for your rally signs…don’t fall for those political Jedi mind tricks!

Let’s keep the scares limited to Halloween where they belong.


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The Teabag Party

Maybe the way to defeat a stupid idea is with a stupider idea.

That’s what the Tea Party seems like to me. Hey, I’m no fan of lame politicians who get free lifetime health care benefits yet can’t seem to understand that affordable healthcare for the rest of us is an important issue. Or the radio zealots who twist and turn everything into an urgent problem because that’s what gets ratings and lines their pockets. I’m an Independent; I think the function of the Republican and Democrat parties has devolved to the point where they exist just to battle each other. Both have forgotten who they work for – you and me.

So the premise of flushing out lazy incumbents is a good one, but unfortunately the Tea Party is not ambivalent in their cause; they’re simply focused upon a hardcore right-wing agenda. These are the people who think Ronald Reagan was the greatest President in American history rather than an emasculated B-movie actor who consulted psychics but succeeded only because he was an actor who could read the cue cards.  (The Republicans apparently forgot the value of this gimmick in recent years.)

I just can’t believe so many people take the drivel they’re given and follow it like sheep. But no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public.

America has a long legacy of brilliant, inventive women leaders, yet the first female presidential candidate might be one of the most ill-informed pinheads ever to walk the Earth. And I’m not sure what’s more frightening – the fact that she could actually win or that a large percentage of the population doesn’t realize that she is as dumb as a rock when it comes to foreign policy, economics, world culture or any critical issue facing our country.

So if I’m going to wallow in political hysteria, at least I’m going to get some laughs out of it. Enter Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who (along with a staff or crack writers and performers) probably bring more sanity to the whole damned thing despite the comedy than Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann do with their passionate yet slanted perspectives.

So I’m going to side with what I will refer to as the Teabag Party. See you on October 30th in Washington DC! If all else fails, and we don’t restore sanity to the masses, at least the day after the rally is Halloween. Then we’ll have two reasons to have the shit scared out of us.

And as for America and the elections? We’ll get what we deserve. To paraphrase Tiny Tim…”God help us, every one“.

Jon Stewart’s Rally To Restore Sanity

Stephen Colbert’s  March To Keep Fear Alive

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