Jon Stewart Entertains in Barton Hall
Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, returned to Ithaca for two weekend performances in Barton Hall on October 28 and 29. Stewart has received many critical accolades for his work on The Daily Show, including two Peabody Awards and 14 Emmys.
The shows, sponsored by the Cornell University Programming Board, took place over First-Year Parents’ Weekend.
The Friday and Saturday shows are the first time in three years that CUPB has used the 5,000-person capacity Barton Hall, which more often features performances put on by Cornell Concert Commission. The last time CUPB used the space was for Howie Mandel’s appearance during fall 2008’s Parents’ Weekend.
Stewart’s performances mark the third time that he has made the trek to Ithaca. He previously appeared in front of sold-out audiences in Bailey Hall in 2001 and Barton Hall in 2005.
On Friday night, he began his performance by describing his trip to Ithaca. He observed that, throughout the duration of his car ride from New York City, “There was nothing I couldn’t milk!”
When he remarked on the natural beauty of the area, the audience cheered and clapped in response. Stewart retorted, “Why are you taking credit? You didn’t make it!” He jokingly imitated his ‘pompous’ audience with a, “Yes, how do you like the way I painted the trees?”
He transitioned to the joys of having children by telling the audience, “The opportunity to ruin someone from scratch is exciting!”
Stewart’s comic discussion on parenthood was particularly well received by the mothers and fathers sitting before him. He noted the striking difference in maturity between his daughter and his son. He said, “Girls are exponentially more advanced than men from the get-go. I can give my son a baby, and it becomes a light saber. I give my girl a light saber, and it marries something else. It’s like I have a daughter and another dog.”
Throughout the show, he frequently made light of the various hot-button issues of today.
Why he believes the U.S. should not have gone to war in Iraq? Because even Germany, the “Michael Jordan of war,” chose not to invade. Germany . . . the country that invaded Poland because it “looked at Germany the wrong way.” The country that “took a walk” and occupied France.
The way to describe the difference between former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama? “Bush is like the kid in 6th grade who’s giving a book report and clearly didn’t read the book, but doesn’t care. Barack Obama is like the kid who read the book in 1st grade and can’t believe everyone else is just getting around to it now.”
His explanation as to why “nothing gets done in this country”? Because “we only have thoughts from the extremes. When there is violence in schools, the political right points to the absence of God while the political left advocates the outlawing of all guns.” But neither reaction is correct, said Stewart. “The 10 Commandments won’t stop someone from inflicting fear,” and it is impossible to “legislate away crazy.”
However, instead of simply offering his personal, comedic views on contentious issues like these, he provided solutions - many of which were surprisingly persuasive and worthy of consideration.
For example, the solution to violence in schools, he said, is to identify the underlying cause of student violence, and, more importantly, to make kids realize that “high school isn’t real life.”
“Whatever makes you vulnerable in high school just might turn out to be a strength,” said Stewart.
Of course, he followed this serious point with a humorous idea: “Take 10th graders on field trips to 25-year reunions. See that fat, bald guy crying in the corner? Yeah . . . captain of the football team.”
Stewart left his audience with a single take-away message that neatly summed all of his skits: “Fight for what you believe in, but don’t get nuts. We must temper our dogma to get along.”
As in years past, Stewart departed the stage to thunderous applause.