I am a ginormous (metaphorically only, of course) fan of Jon Stewart. Lately I've been watching videos of his performances (including stand-up comedy, interviews, and the Daily Show) since 1996. He is an astoundingly consistent comedian, probing deep into the roots of our believes and biases with wit and tremendous humor. He is handsome, right-sized (who could fault him for not being as tall as a sequoia - or Conan O'Brien?), caring (letting Irglova back on stage to deliver her speech - that is the definition of a gentleman), and sufficiently humble to owe up to his occasional mistakes. In other words, he is perfect.
That was my manifesto of love of Jon Stewart. This book, however, does not present the Stewart that I love so dearly. A red flag was raised in my head when I saw the quoted praises on the covers came from Entertainment Weekly, Elle, and, hm, Bikini. When I started reading the content, my fear was confirmed.
The font was large - seems like 14pt to me - and line spacing sparse. The premise of the book is that our perception of celebrities (Princess Diana, Martha Stewart and the likes) would be put on its head by the invented private correspondences or public interviews of them. (Sorry for putting it so dryly.) The problem is that, while some of these materials might be good enough for 5-minute sketches, they are simply not funny in the form of a book, especially considering the impossibly high bar that Mr Jon Stewart has set for himself. (There was, nonetheless, one Stewart-grade chapter - The Recipe.) Since a book is a medium for which the audience have a far greater capacity for patience and deliberation, I expected to find more in-depth and complex humor in this book than in his daily show. I was disappointed.
Granted, this book was published in 1999, around the time when he replaced Craig Kilborn on The Daily Show and had yet to grow into his current stature. He might have thought of himself as a lesser comedian at that time. But Jon, why produce a second rate book when you clearly have the capacity to write a first-class one, as you and your team have demonstrated in America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction (2005)?...Continua