November 14, 2008
Amid deafening laughter and applause, "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart performed to a capacity crowd as the 16th guest in the Sacerdote Series, Great Names at Hamilton, on Nov. 14. Stewart showed he had done his homework on Hamilton, making reference to such topics as the Hamilton-Colgate rivalry and the Spectator.
Every topic was fair game for the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Comedy Central comedian. Stewart poked fun at Hamilton's campus, asking "Is this campus supposed to look like the set of a murder mystery?" Rural Central New York was a target, when he commented that on his ride to Clinton, "I didn't see much I couldn't milk."
Stewart took great delight in Al Ham the pig. After joking about the Continental as a mascot, Al Ham made an appearance in the crowd. "I'm assuming this is a something from a local supermarket,?" Stewart asked, adding that a "pig in a tri-cornered hat seems to indicate an identity crisis."
Stewart commented on George Bush, describing his press conferences as "as a sixth grader giving a book report on a book he hasn't read." His other material came at the expense of Dick Cheney, the Boy Scouts, homophobes and Sarah Palin.
Since arriving in 1999, Stewart and "The Daily Show" have received 24 Emmy® Award nominations and won 10 times. These include winning for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program as well as Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series for the past five consecutive years (2003-2007). In 2001, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" also received the prestigious Peabody® Award for excellence in its "Indecision 2000" campaign coverage and again in 2005 for "Indecision 2004."
Lisa Magnarelli, director of student activities and coordinator of Great Names, said Stewart has been atop the Great Names wish list for three years. Two surveys of the campus population both indicated Stewart as the overwhelming choice of who students, faculty and staff most wanted to see.
So I'm pretty sure that Jon Stewart was the reason why the weather was so lovely yesterday. His stand-up only confirmed to me that he is indeed a shining, glorious beacon of hope and deliverance. I'm reminded of when Joan Stewart said something in her introduction about the social importance of satire. I think Jon Stewart's following commentary on hot-button issues emphasized that notion. He's just a comedian, yes, but in an age when entertainers and other media hold such a grip on the American psyche, I believe Stewart plays an influential role as a cultural icon. Yesterday he made us smile but he also made us think. When I discussed his routine with friends after the show, we didn't talk so much about the jokes themselves as we did about the issues he raised. With wit and without hesitation, Stewart exposed a lot of the figurative diseases -- prejudice, ignorance, divisiveness -- that plague our society today. And in doing so, he proved that "laughter is the best medicine."
-- Alex Pure '12