Tagged: jon stewart

Saturday Night’s Alright (For Streaming Things Online)

Do you have plans for Saturday night? If you have nothing scheduled, and if you want to stay in and watch something streaming live on the Internet, you’re in luck! Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly are going to do that thing where they debate at George Washington University (read more about it here). You can watch that for $5, if you are so inclined.

Or! Jay-Z is performing the eighth and final show in his concert series at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That will be streaming at YouTube for free. (Because Jay-Z is Jay-Z, and he can’t sneeze without it tying into a business venture or marketing opportunity, it will be airing on his YouTube channel.)

Commencement Addresses

Around this time of year, videos and transcripts of recent college commencement addresses begin to appear. Some of them are very good! Aaron Sorkin, for instance, gave a really nice address to students at Syracuse University (his alma mater). Yes, he largely repurposed an address he gave at the school in 1997 (link via), but Sorkin has a well-established habit of revisiting his own lines, so I guess it’s not that big of a deal? (Unless you were at the ceremony in 1997 and also at the one earlier this month, and maybe in that case you feel very let down because despite it being 15 years later and Sorkin having created “The West Wing” and won an Oscar for “The Social Network” during that time, he apparently doesn’t have much in the way of new thoughts to offer graduates.) Anyway, it’s still a good speech.

Longform gathered some other gems, including Sheryl Sandberg’s speech at Barnard last year and Jon Stewart’s words to William & Mary in 2004. I’ve mentioned this before, but I have no idea what my commencement speaker said. As such, I will again point to two of my personal favorites: David Foster Wallace’s 2005 address at Kenyon College (audio) and Conan O’Brien’s address to Harvard in 2000.

Let’s compare Jon Stewart to Edward R. Murrow, for funsies

Who’s comparing Jon Stewart to Edward R. Murrow? Why, the New York Times. On the one hand, Stewart is the best media critic working today, his show is obviously terrific and he does often spotlight issues that get the shaft from regular media coverage (like the 9/11 first responders bill). On the other hand, it’s a dumb comparison because Stewart doesn’t put his career and livelihood on the line doing this. But, hey, it’s a holiday week, not a lot of people are working, it’s nice of the Times to provide blogger debate fodder.

There’s a reason people trust Jon Stewart

For some reason, Jon Stewart is the only person who seems remotely aware that there is a stalled bill meant to provide more medical care for the 9/11 first responders. Lots of people voted against it, and these people are still walking around and talking about things as though they are just normal, everyday humans. It’s bizarre. Not that you’d know about it from, you know, the rest of the media coverage of anything because ZOMGS, did you hear there was yet another poll about whether or not people would vote for Sarah Palin for president?

Late night viewers can be easily segmented into particular consumer demographics

You already know Leno viewers are more likely to be rich Republicans who enjoy Fox News, while Conan viewers are likely single atheists, right? Obviously. But now you have actual, official numbers to say so! To celebrate the launch of the Hollywood Reporter as a weekly magazine, the publication had a survey conducted of late night viewers. It’s full of all sorts of obvious-seeming things, but this tidbit is interesting:

Given a list of personality adjectives, viewers said “mean spirited” and “smart” best described Letterman, “outdated” and “whiny” fit Leno, while “trustworthy” best represented O’Brien.

The people who were surveyed seem wise. I think I will choose to trust these numbers. This follows Monday’s report in AdAge confirming that, yes, you as a viewer can be segmented by what you watch and what you buy in order for massive corporations to target you and your bucks. In other words: Duh.

When Is A Show Not A Show?

This is the best explanation I’ve yet heard about what inspired Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and their staffs to conceive and organize a massive rally on the National Mall this Saturday:

Beck’s rally was the primary inspiration, but another motivation is also at work: comedic envy. Last summer, when Conan O’Brien’s “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour”came to Radio City, Stewart and Colbert took the stage for a “dance-off.”

“Conan’s tour was just spectacle,” Stewart said, sounding in awe months later. “Being a stand-up, you play theaters that have had Foghat or somebody like that, so there’s a soundboard and all this shit. And all you’ve got are a stool and a bottle of water, and you want people to sit there for an hour and a half. You wish you at least had a couple of smudge pots. The idea that Conan went out there and put on a SHOW! As a comedian, you’re like, ‘Wow!’”

That, right there, as much as anything, sells this show to me. It’s being called a rally because that fits with the way “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” play with politics, both the actual politicization of things and the way politics are driven and covered in this country. But as my wife pointed out, even if you take out the rally aspect, the timing (coming three days before the midterm elections in the nation’s capital) and everything else, it’s basically just a free chance to see Stewart and Colbert perform.

Conan’s tour stop in D.C. was a truly outstanding moment of spectacle, as Stewart put it. It was also wildly different from what Conan’s audience had gotten until that point: Conan on camera, Conan behind a desk, Conan hitting his mark and making jokes, Conan always on the other side of the glass. It’s why people go to sporting events instead of watching them on TV, why they go to concerts when they have the band’s album, why they go see stand-ups perform the same jokes they heard the last time they came. Things are different in person.

The frantic media attention being given to the Stewart/Colbert rally is unsurprising and already beyond overkill. Media members love nothing more than writing about themselves (ahem) and how they have become or will become or already are the story. The Stewart/Colbert shows get attention from the media because of how much attention they give the media. While, yes, both of the shows have political bents and obviously have some level of influence (debating the exact amount is impossible and quixotic), they are primarily entertainment outlets and this rally will be primarily a live show. I can understand why sending buses to bring people to the rally is a bit off (as well as being a naked attempt to piggyback on someone else’s media wave).

The notion that journalists shouldn’t be able to go is and remains absurd. The Post covers the Wizards and the Redskins, so are reporters who happen to be fans not allowed to go to the games and cheer for the team? (I mean reporters who don’t cover the teams, obviously.) Or do politics get a special shelf because it’s D.C., it’s the Post and the underlying fear of seeming slanted? We cover lots of different things and a lot of them have a real purchase and resonance in our everyday life. The only reason this particular rally is getting so much attention for whether or not journalists can/can’t/should/shouldn’t go is because there’s this pervasive, neverending fear among mainstream media outlets of looking like they are even incrementally inching away from precious, precious “balance.” Obviously political reporters shouldn’t go to this event and cheer if their subjects are mocked. Obviously a TV critic shouldn’t go to this event in a “Stewart/Colbert ’08” T-shirt and cheer for hours.

But it’s a show. There are going to be some jokes, some musical acts and a couple of hours of entertainment. To a lot of young people — a potentially shocking number of young people, if early predictions are correct — it’s also a moment, not unlike the one that drew a lot of people to D.C. for the inauguration in 2009. They aren’t the same, either in meaning nor in audience. They just happen to be things that speak to people at that particular time and for that particular cause. In that case, it was for the politics or the history. For this rally, it’s because they like these guys and think they’re funny and want to see them live, in addition to whatever political feelings come into play. I cannot fathom how that has gotten so lost amidst the endless, pointless debates about whether or not journalists should go, how political it will be, the impact it will have on the elections or what it means for Stewart’s “legacy.”

Me, I’m just hoping he can put on a show half as good as Conan’s.

New organizations and the Stewart/Colbert rallies

Some news outlets have laid down the law for the upcoming Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert rallies in the nation’s capital. NPR is banning employees from going. Other outlets are treating them as political events, because despite the comedic framework there’s no denying that the rallies are political in nature. (The Huffington Post, by comparison, is spending $250,000 to bus people to the rallies. Insert easy “Couldn’t that money pay a few more of their bloggers?” joke here.)

There’s a debate to be had about supposed indifference to actual events — about whether journalists should be the kind of people who can report on things but still be engaged in the world they live in, as opposed to automatons who have no sense of right or wrong and can’t even vote in elections lest they damage their impartiality — but is this really the best case study for it? It will be, when you boil it down, a comedic event. A lot of journalists live and work in and around the nation’s capital.

I think NPR goes a bit too far, whereas the Post has it right — you can go, just to observe and not to participate (though that is, of course, incredibly vague. Is laughing participation?). In other words, you don’t have to blind yourself to the world around you to still have a necessary level of professionalism.