Off Topic Messages

Jon Stewart & The Oscars

Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:03 pm

ImageFirst post written pre-Oscar:ImageImageImage

Note: (First posts on this thread: Made pre-Oscar ceremony):

I'm mostly agnostic or unimpressed about Jonathan Stewart Leibowitz, despite his occasional likeability on his rather lopsided show.But spare me the folks who say they "get their news" from a comedy show.
And you all?

Why Jon Stewart isn't funny
By Michael Kalin | March 3, 2006, Boston Globe

The selection of Jon Stewart as the host for Sunday night's 2006 Oscars undoubtedly marks a career milestone for the aspiring king of late-night comedy. Unfortunately, however, the ascension of Stewart and ''The Daily Show" into the public eye is no laughing matter. Stewart's ever-increasing popularity among young viewers directly correlates with the declining influence of progressive thought in America. Coincidence? I think not. Let me explain.

Meet Joshua Goldberg, a fictional composite of the typical apostle of ''The Daily Show." Born in Newton, Goldberg attended Newton South High School where he played an integral role in securing the school's debate championship. His 3.8 grade point average and impressive array of extracurricular activities earned him a scholarship to Vassar, where he majored in political science and joined a Jewish fraternity. Throughout his formal education, Goldberg stayed up-to-date on national politics through nightly coverage on ''The Daily Show" and even led a petition to protest the genocide in Darfur.

Many of Stewart's die-hard supporters might use this persona as proof that ''The Daily Show" engages disillusioned viewers who otherwise could not be reached. This argument, however, fails to consider the ultimate career path of Josh Goldberg: Upon graduation in 2004, he accepted a prestigious job as an analyst at Morgan Stanley. Although he no longer follows Washington's daily political squabbles, Goldberg gives a significant annual contribution to the Democratic Party.

The tragedy of this portrait is not that investment banking corrupts young souls (although one could argue otherwise), but rather that the students who abandon politics out of a naive self-consciousness often represent our country's most idealistic minds. Stewart's daily dose of political parody characterized by asinine alliteration leads to a ''holier than art thou" attitude toward our national leaders. People who possess the wit, intelligence, and self-awareness of viewers of ''The Daily Show" would never choose to enter the political fray full of ''buffoons and idiots." Content to remain perched atop their Olympian ivory towers, these bright leaders head straight for the private sector.

Observers since the days of de Tocqueville have often remarked about America's unique dissociation between politicians and citizens of ''outstanding character." Unfortunately, the rise of mass media and the domination of television news give Stewart's Menckenesque voice a much more powerful influence than critics in previous generations. As a result, a bright leader who may have become the Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson of today instead perceives politics as a supply of sophisticated entertainment, rather than a powerful source of social change.

Most important, this disturbing cultural phenomenon overwhelmingly affects potential leaders of the Democratic Party.

The type of folksy solemnity brandished by President Bush does not resonate with ''The Daily Show" demographic. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, only 2 percent of the show's audience identify themselves as conservatives. At a time when the Democrats desperately need inspired leadership, the show's self-conscious aloofness pervades the liberal punditry.

Although Stewart's comedic shticks may thus earn him some laughs Sunday at the Oscars, his routine will certainly not match the impact of his greatest irony: Jon Stewart undermines any remaining earnestness that liberals in America might still possess.

Michael Kalin is a 2005 graduate of Harvard College. ... snt_funny/
Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:20 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:47 pm

I've mentioned it here before that I'm not Stewart's biggest fan by a long shot.

During the '04 campaign, the Daily Show as funny and relevent

Now it's just heh heh schtick Bush-bashing and Christian-bashing.

Stewart and Colbert can shove it.

Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:24 pm

... he was better when he was just a VJ on MTV... :lol:

Elvis fan

Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:34 pm

I like political humor from George Carlin to Bill Mahrer to Saturday Night Live on occasion,
but his show (the little I've seen of it) to be too overtly or partisanly liberal on what seems like every single issue. Maybe it's just the studio audience. Likewise, despite some funny bits, Dennis Miller's recent HBO special shows he's strictly drinking from the GOP kool aid these days. There was very little to even out this impression.

I like to see all oxes gored when it comes to political comedy. Cartoonish representations of the right get a little tiresome from what I've seen from Comedy Central lately.

But then the current administration is providing plenty of material and certainly have it coming!

The liberal author above mentions some of the smug air to the Stewart's comedy, and he may be right. We'll see how the Oscar night gig goes. Few comedians ever come out of that alive anyway.

He's likeable, I'll give him that. I'm betting he'll last longer that Chris Rock (et al.) if he steers clear of getting too political the whole time.

Sat Mar 04, 2006 2:52 am

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:But then the current administration is providing plenty of material and certainly have it coming!

Thus, "The Daily Show."

If Stewart helmed the program in 1998, what do you imagine the dominant topic would've been? And would that have bothered you?

Stewart is smart, funny and a passionate American. If you notice, the show invites guests from across the politcial spectrum, and unlike other conservative, humourless pundits, he treats them with respect.


Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:28 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:But then the current administration is providing plenty of material and certainly have it coming!

Thus, "The Daily Show."

If Stewart helmed the program in 1998, what do you imagine the dominant topic would've been? And would that have bothered you?

Stewart is smart, funny and a passionate American. If you notice, the show invites guests from across the politcial spectrum, and unlike other conservative, humourless pundits, he treats them with respect.


If it was about Bill Clinton in '98, I would not have liked it -unless he took a stand like Bill Mahrer.

He's serving a role as a court jester and that's a good thing. I just haven't liked some of what I've seen (it seemed liked they bused in the Democratic faithful) but I'll take your word for it that he brings on conservative guests.

Their is a smug tone in the little I've seen of Stewart's humor if your on the opposite side of some issues, but that comes with the territory.

Despite what some liberals say, there is on occasion humor on Bill O'Reilly's show but then it doesn't set out to be a comedy. Outrage is more often the stance, if not always vented at the right people.

It's a good thing that it's all out there, but I fear that we have little in the way of a national conversation as we tune into programs that affirm our stands and biases.

About the only person I know of who is an equal opportunity offender (and fan of diverse guests) is Bill Maher, who last night could be heard taking a potshot at "Brokeback Mountain."

I'll give Stewart more air time. To be honest, being buried on Channel 82 doesn't make it easy to remember where he is on the dial where I am.

Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:46 am

Jon Stewart "cares" about America and Politics simply because
he's got a paying job that requires him to. If his magpie-face
sorry ass was still at MTV, the only thing he'd care about/focus on
would be the latest Top 10 Videos and Real World cast.

But I predict he'll be off the air and passe' and old hat
when Bush's term is up. Stewart's schtick has a finite run.

Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:18 am

It's funny.. I consider myself to be middle-of-the-road leaning in some ways to the conservative, and one or two to the liberal. But I've always liked John Stewart.

I think his post 9/11 speech is what did it for me. (I also liked his appearance on Hannity and Colmes) On a comedy show, we get probably the most heartfelt monologue given by anyone "in the media" (of those I saw, anyway, and I saw a lot of them). I even put it on my website, . He does have some conservative guests on the show, and is a big fan of Bill O' Riley judging by O' Riley's appearance on his show (to the point of shush-ing the obviously liberal audience when they applauded loudly at a time John thought was inapporpriate).

Although I do have to say, I'm not quite as big on his show now, as since the last presidential election it has turned more liberal to the point where it really shows sometimes. Other times, it's great. But something in the election seemed to've so stirred/outraged John that he's more outward with his opinion and political stand, which does the show some dis-service. I still enjoy the show, and I think Stewart is a really funny guy with some good insight, but at times the show seems too "big for it's britches". It still does do a good job (I think) of showing some of the absurdity of the political world in general, which is why I still generally enjoy the show when I can still catch it.

I've always thought that "The Daily Show's" success had as much to do with the fact that so much of the media is slanted one way or the other, and it's so full of "shock value" and leaving things out to get what the reporter wants out of the story... that a chunk of people turned to the show and said "well, if we're going to be fed BS, it may as well be BS that's presented as BS and that we can laugh with". Too bad the show's lost some of it's center, but hopefully it'll find it again (perhaps after the next presidential election?).

Just my opinion, for what it's worth. :)

Sat Mar 04, 2006 10:32 am

It's a funny show if you take it for what it is.........

People who claim they are informed by it are too obtuse to be reasoned with.

Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:32 am

You mean you weren't informed by their report on the man who's mission was to drive cross-country bare-arse naked? :P :lol:

Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:55 am

I admit that the show makes me laugh at times........Stewart is a funny guy.

The problem comes with those who actually believe that he is reporting "news", or that he's concerned with unbiased truth. He's not, and that's cool with me.

But some people think it's a show with relevance and value beyond the chuckle factor.........and they are a scary lot :lol:

Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:48 pm

The writer of the piece sounds quite humorless himself so maybe that's why he doesn't get the show. Interacting with many local politicians myself I know that power is corrupting and not just morally but mentally corrupting. I sat at a meeting where the county gave this town several options on a bridge they planned to build in the town. One politician in the town held out for one design simply because it was the most expensive even though everyone else told him it was uglier and less sturdy. It's just insane. I've seen people try to ban 30-year-old children's books and implement needless law after law. I've seen them do 360s on their election platforms. That's just at the local level with the very least amount of political power. At the higher levels it's worse. There's nothing wrong with poking fun at that.

Stewart has said many times on the air that if you're getting your information from the Daily Show "shame on you". However, the show serve an important informative purpose not in the fact in any new information it brings to light but as media and political criticism. When the spin machine moves over aboard the Daily Show is the show most likely to catch it. Or when a politician is extra pompous or devious Stewart is there to poke a hole in the balloon. Occasionally, there's even a bit of Swiftian satire such as the installment that focused on how poor people were missing out on the oil boom. Just as easily though it can tumble into silliness even in the same bit.

There is no way not to be smug when the nature of show is poking fun at public officials. The show has a point of view that's definite. But there's nothing wrong with that. A big difference between Stewart and O'Reilly is that Stewart's targets aren't generally defenseless. Stewart roasts the people who ignored the victims of Katrina not the victims themselves.

The bottom line on the show is humor and the show wouldn't be anywhere if it weren't cracking people up.

Stewart interviews both conservative and liberal guests. Many guests on the show are frequent targets of lampoonery like Zell Miller and Stewart treats them with respect. Even more the show highlights relatively obscure figures like historians who don't get play on other shows. The show is at its weakest when Stewart schmoozes with celebrity guests hawking their latest wares.

Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:03 pm

To revisit this topic:

Daily Show staff writers and graphic artists are funny.
What they concoct to look at and to be said is often hilarious.

Yet Stewart himself is not funny.

heh heh heh

Sat Mar 04, 2006 10:06 pm

Glad to get some other opinions and Jamie's in particular which make some sense to me.

It's true that "kids" under 25 (35?) don't read newspapers - and don't read them on-line either nor watch the evening news, so they are the one's they're talking about. It's just lazy.

Yes, the Harvard grad who penned the piece (why did he bother?) really doesn't go anywhere with it. I thought he might be trying to indict Stewart et. al. for breeding cynicism but then it's not his job to be an actual political alternative.

A big part of comedy shows it seems to me, is to have some "misfires." SNL is one such example. Since 1975, it's been on again, off again, sometimes in the same show.

Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:35 pm

I've always noticed the best skits on SNL are generally packed towards the front of the show.

Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:50 pm

I agree: I try not to stick around past 12 Midnight, and I don't seek it out as often at that.

I also find that they still truck too much in juvenile "gross-out" humor, especially in those fake commercials. Sometimes I can tell the median age of the writers is something like 23-26.

Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:02 am

the only snl i like is the days of john belushi, dan aykroyd, bill murray, gilda radner, lorraine newman, jane curtin, garrett morris & chevy chase (skip that, chevy is obnoxious...and garrett was mostly just the token black guy).

i even have the blues brothers poster on my wall to prove it.

honestly, i think snl bit the bullet when belushi left circa animal house, and then aykroyd soon followed. aykroyd was one of the best writers on the show, and it showed because after the 'bad boys' left, the show had this little decline known as the early '80s. :lol:

the show had another peak with mike meyers, chris farley, etc... though i personally don't think they topped the original gang. and don't get me started on what i think of adam sandler.

then of course, will ferrell has managed to have some life post-snl...and chris kattan could be amusing at times. though their humor (particularly ferrell) often goes into the unnecessary crude to get laughs.

and don't even get me started on tina fey and jimmy fallon...barf. the liberal 'i was picked on'/cutesy dufus schtick is so old. though i actually enjoy rachel dratch--honestly the only one today worth watching...she's a bit of a gilda radner.

on the topic of jon stewart--so disinterested. i think he's just a predictable liberal puppet for attracting sophmoric lazy slackers. if he made fun of everybody, it would work. but he wears his affiliation on his sleeve.

dan aykroyd, for example, made fun of jimmy carter's obsession with peanuts...and then dan and john did the nixon and kissinger impersonations. there is funny on both sides.

(and of course i have to give shout-outs to: the blues brothers, the bees, samurai futaba, the coneheads, "luck of the irish", "jane, you ignorant slut", belushi's dead-on marlon brando and joe cocker (he did a better joe cocker than joe cocker)...and other classics. murray's star wars song beats fallon's!)

jon stewart doesn't interest me. then again, my tastes in comedy are a bit dated...about 20-30 years. ;)

Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:23 am

My comedy tastes are also in the 20-30 (and more) years range (I'm now getting the Dean Matin Celebrity Roasts on DVD, and I've already got the complete set of the Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show). But I don't think John has always been so obvious (not sure when you first saw the show). At first, he may state an opinon now and again but that was the most you heard from it. But you could see the change as the Presidential election progressed, and he's much more forward about it now - though if some of the spots where he has a guest on is any indication, in some ways he still seems open to views from the other side with a "semi" open mind. He does at least hear them out to a point.

But like I said in the first post, the change has been evident, and I hope someone is able to take him aside and tell him, so he can get back to the quality he had before the election. It's a different kind of humor, but I enjoy it. :) Though I agree that if I'd started watching during or after the election, I'd likely not have the same love of the show.

Everybody's different, and there's nothing wrong there - a lot of people I know have Dane Cook as their favorite stand-up comedian, and he's a bit extreme for me most of the time. (favorites at the moment, besides the classics, are Richard Jeni and Eddie Izzard, although Eddie's gone a bit too much into knocking religion, which is too bad because his history stuff is a riot)

Sun Mar 05, 2006 3:10 am

speaking of snl...dan and john handpicked the snl band (a.k.a. the blues brothers band). this is back in the days when the snl band was a blues band and not a jazz band.

music aficionados here should recognize names like steve cropper and duck dunn. steve cropper wrote "dock of the bay"!!! --didn't elvis record with one or the both of them at some point?

yeah...i was quite the blues brothers nut a few years ago. "soul man" (snl/briefcase full of blues), "everybody needs somebody" (movie), "king bee" (snl), "rawhide" (movie), "she caught the katy" (movie), "flip, flop & fly" (briefcase full of blues), "b movie boxcar blues" (snl), etc...

check these out. belushi in particular was really good (aykroyd's low voice and long-legged dancing is all quite amusing...and he really does play the harmonica awesomely)--and the cartwheels are always hilarious. belushi outside of the duo, singing "money, that's what i want" (animal house soundtrack), "with a little help from my friends" (joe cocker imp.)...etc...all things to check out.

yeah...after elvis and a few other oldies legends...two snl comedians make part of one of my favorite bands--i think they did a legitimate revue. in recent years dan has replaced john with john goodman and jim belushi--jim has his own band actually--separate from the bb.

a little trivia: john belushi was the biggest elvis fan in the nbc building, and he was the last one told of elvis' death. andy kaufman of course was also a huge elvis fan. and judging how both blues brothers films and ghostbusters have mentioned elvis, it's clear dan aykroyd always makes sure to stick him in his scripts somewhere.

not quite about jon stewart...but hey...i wasn't the one that first mentioned snl... :lol: ... p?cat_id=4

this site has some bb snl performances for download...pretty awesome. soul man and king bee are my favorites there.

Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:05 pm

SNL up to the end of the "news" had some good moments last Saturday. I liked the Bush/Cheney skit and the overdue dig at skater Sasha Cohen's flop.

Jamie, as a 30-something, I referred to the TV industry's tendency to turn out "old" writers way too quickly in sitcoms and elsewhere because of the new market-driven demographic garbage they're slaves too. SNL is pretty much in line with its historic audience, however.

So: Jon Stewart last night at the Oscars: pro or con?

I thought they overdid the gay theme early on. (Alleged "gay" clips from old westerns and Jon in bed with George Clooney, etc.). I've heard that the reviews are mixed of his hosting. It was okay by me otherwise.

How about that Hip-Hop song that was performed and won? What a new low.

ImageFrom the NY Times: ... 6watc.html
With movies like "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crash," 2005 was billed as the year of the message movie, but films do not lead the culture as they once did. Mostly the message of last night's Academy Awards show was a self-congratulatory one from Hollywood to itself: we care, we dare.

Jon Stewart, looking a little nervous, tried to tweak Hollywood self-righteousness by making a joke about Angelina Jolie adopting third world orphans and teasing liberal Hollywood for being "out of touch" with America.

Mr. Stewart wasn't nearly as hostile as Chris Rock was last year, but George Clooney, as soon as he won the Oscar for best supporting actor, set the master of ceremonies straight. "We are a little bit out of touch," the actor and director retorted. He then went on to explain that Hollywood was one of the first communities to speak up for AIDS patients and for civil rights (he cited as an example of the latter Hattie McDaniel's Oscar in 1939). To staunch applause, Mr. Clooney added that he was "proud" to be part of the "out of touch" Hollywood community.

Rachel Weisz, seven months pregnant, was also in a preachy mood, paying tribute to the "people who are willing to risk their lives to fight injustice" when she won the best supporting actress award for "The Constant Gardener." And, when Cathy Schulman accepted the best picture award for "Crash," she thanked all the viewers around the world who were "touched" by the film's message of "tolerance and truth."

Even more than in most years, the self-seriousness of Academy Awards nominees competed with the public's lèse-célébrité....

...Gay themes were inevitable in a year that included both "Brokeback Mountain" and "Capote," though the film about the author of "In Cold Blood" also carried a message that is particularly dear to Hollywood: murderers are bad, but journalists are worse.

Mr. Stewart wasn't as funny as he is usually is on "The Daily Show," but his riff on gay cowboys was clever. He introduced a montage of clips from classic westerns that, put together, could be interpreted as gay (John Wayne silkily telling someone he would have him "spread-eagle on a wagon wheel").

Mr. Stewart also did well with another prepared piece that leaned heavily on "Daily Show" humor — mock negative ads in a Hollywood studio campaign for best actress that echoed the ominous tone of political ads.

David Bianchulli, NY Daily News:
New York Daily News -
This telecast won't win a prize any time soon

Monday, March 6th, 2006

Jon Stewart may or may not be asked back to host the Oscars - he was funnier reacting to events as the evening progressed than in his opening monologue, and loosened up considerably - but there's one aspect of last night's "78th Annual Academy Awards" telecast that should never, never be repeated.
I'm referring to the horrible, distracting decision to play orchestral music as winners were giving their acceptance speeches. Not after they run over their allotted time, as an aural nudge - but from the very first second they opened their mouths.

When George Clooney accepted the night's first award, as best supporting actor for "Syriana," he had to fight to be heard over the background music.

Was he already over his time limit? Was playing the music a mistake? No, just the most wrongheaded Oscar moment since Rob Lowe sang with Snow White. But that Lowe point was over in a few painful minutes. Last night, every acceptance speech compounded the error - and annoyance - by going wall-to-wall with intrusive music.

It wasn't the only mistake on last night's ABC presentation - just the biggest.

There were far too many unnecessary montages ("I can't wait until later," Stewart cracked midway through, "when we see 'Oscar's salute to montages'") - and even they were drowned by unnecessary music. Also, the legendary Lauren Bacall, in her introduction to a superfluous tribute to film noir, didn't just stumble. On a night when several lesser lights also read the TelePrompTer poorly, she put her lips together and blew.

The good spots? Few, but there. The opening, employing cameos by Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and other former Oscar hosts, including David Letterman, was good.

Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep, introducing Robert Altman in freewheeling, Altmanesque fashion, were delightful. So was the exuberance shown by Three 6 Mafia when winning Best Original Song for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from "Hustle & Flow."

But the drama last night was largely absent.

From Salon: ... print.html
Oscar castrates himself
The Academy celebrates niceness, bleeps out "bitch" and pats itself on the back for good behavior. And what did they do to poor Jon Stewart?
By Cintra Wilson

Mar. 03, 2006 | Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any more wrist-slashingly boring, the boringness collapsed in on itself and became a deadly howling void of terrible sucking from which the light of no star could escape. These Oscars were so hideously uptight, they got pulled down a worm-hole and traveled light-years, on and on, forever, until they finally ended up in the darkest, airless regions of some fat, ultraconservative's welded-on undershorts. Somehow, the roaring vacuum of these Oscars even killed the chi of the Golden Boy, our very own Jon Stewart. He began apologizing within 20 minutes, once he realized he'd never get his ankles out of the anaconda.

How ... HOW did Jon Stewart suck so hard?

I think somebody MADE him suck. I think there was some serious Hollywood penitentiary shower-shanghai going down. Somebody stuck Jon Stewart in the tent with Oscar and made him commit unnatural acts of sucking. I don't want to name names, but I think it was probably J.C. Penney himself.

Walk it off, Jon. Sasha Cohen showed us that you can fall on your ass and still lose with dignity. It's just not America's year.

A few things were surprising: We thought this was going to be the Gay Oscars. Instead it was the "Hey, you fearfully ignorant red-state hick-weeds: Hollywood is America's social conscience and history proves that we've always been smarter than you" Oscars. Oscar was being defensive, because Hollywood is tired of being called dirty names by the no-necked monsters hanging around the White House bowling alley....

I had this list of awards I was sure I was going to be able to hand out from my upside-down perch in my bat-cave, and was disappointed to not be able to use them: ....

Moment Jon Stewart Looked Most Manic-Depressive: I thought there would just be one or two, but you could see his "my material and I are tanking" realization dawning within the first 20 seconds. He hopefully tried to airlift the thing for a while, but after the second commercial break his mood just plummeted unchecked, until he finally became bravely and professionally glum, soldiering forward with all the glee of a rescue worker who continues to try to relieve suffering when he secretly knows that All Is Doomed.

Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:28 pm

I'm surpised Stewart refrained from doing even one heh heh heh Bush impersonation

or did he??? I missed most of the Oscars event

I watched the opening 10 minutes.......
- then changed channels to watch the Barney Fife marathon,
then watched the final 10 minutes of Oscar (best part anyway).

Reese was wonderful in her winning/accepting.
As she divulged on E! later, she wore a dress once owned by June Carter Cash

Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:34 pm

I missed all of 10-15 minutes. He refained from Bush-bashing

Can't kick a guy when he's down. :lol:

Yes, Reese was very appealing. I like how they zoom into her face.

You know they practice these "thanks" too. Very movie like but sincere. Now she's worth waiting up for.

Good for her..and for the Johnny Cash flick, which, as someone (Stewart?) cracked is "'Ray" without the black people." :lol:


Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:54 pm

Anybody caught "Red Carpet, Green Cars" McDormand, Phoenix, Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney arriving at the Oscars in Toyota or Lexus hybrids? I read this in a news article.

I loved the opening montage of all the classic characters, as well as the noir and epic montages. Though they were relying too much on them to remind people of how they think the industry is still great.

If you think John Stewart's performance was rather underwhelming you haven't seen foreign award shows yet.

He wasn't a monumental bomb like Letterman, wasn't as crude as Whoopie. His jokes on the fly were hilarious. "For those of you keeping score at home, Martin Scorsese - 0, Three 6 Mafia - 1." or " "Oscar's salute to montages". The mock campaign commercials were a nice touch. He was like a good waiter. There when you needed him, but not too intrusive. I thought the opening was hilarious. Billy Crystal and Chris Rock in the tent! I was rolling. And, Steve Martin..."I need to spend more time with my they don't turn out weird".

I really liked the song from Crash. Good performance. Now maybe I should finally see the movie itself.

Keanu and Sandra! Come on! Speed 3! Speed 3! Speed 3! LOL

I liked Clooney's acceptance speech. Didn't waste time just thanking person after person but instead made it interesting and funny.

The show moved along very quickly. Much better production this year compared to last year.

I would have loved to see some audience reactions during the "pimp performance". Whole lotta scared white folks in the audience.

I had read in an Variety article about the carpet-bombing efforts of Lionsgate distributing over 130,000 Crash DVDs to the Academy as well as SAG and WG, that number being 10 times the usual amount of screeners sent out. I guess the promotion worked for Crash this year. But, just earlier in the broadcast, the Academy wasn't showing DVDs, in general, much love, now were they?

That said it's really a Hollywood game where everyone pats themselves on the back, sharing the awards based on the buddy system and political decisions defining what gets honored.

Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:58 pm

In a typical Hollywood skewered oddity........

the one song with a biblebelt religious theme/style
was Dolly Parton's song from the transgender film.


Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:04 pm

Was that where that came from?

I came back late and was pleased to see ol' Dolly. I was surprised she
was preaching it...

Now I know why. What a tired subject anyway.

They still haven't gotten over the '04 election - and I say that as a non-Bush (read, Kerry) voter.

By Andy Dehnart

Those big stars just don’t get Jon Stewart
‘Daily Show’ host will be lumped in with Letterman, Rock as Oscar failure

Judging by the Kodak Theatre audience's reception to Jon Stewart, he will find his place in Oscar hosting history alongside Chris Rock and David Letterman, both of whom were judged to be poor hosts, either for their celebrity-bashing jokes (Rock) or their immature antics (Letterman). Despite the fact that Stewart (like Rock and Letterman) did an admirable job, the audience didn't seem to like him.

Coming back from one break, Stewart pretended to be in mid-sentence. "And that is why I think Scientology is right, not just for this city, but for the country," he said, clearly mocking some stars' commitment to Scientology. Hollywood sat silent.

An admitted and unashamed progressive himself, Stewart later made fun of the film industry's perceived liberalness, telling viewers the Oscars are a chance to "see all your favorite stars without having to donate any money to the Democratic party." Our favorite stars barely chuckled.

Instructing the audience to not pirate films, Stewart referred to the rich and lavishly dressed audience and said, "These are the people you're stealing from." Those people did not find his remark funny.

As with many of Stewart's lines, the laughter for these jokes was mostly distant, perhaps coming from the high balconies, far away from the celebrities. When we saw the faces of the stars, they were blank, or awkwardly smiling, perhaps pretending to chuckle.

A few got it: the cameras kept returning to Jamie Foxx, probably because he was laughing along with viewers. By comparison, Joaquin Phoenix looked dreadfully constipated every time a camera found his face, completely unmoved.

As Jon Stewart closed the show, he said, "I hope you had a nice night," and the audience hesitated before clapping politely. His interaction with the theater's crowd was going so bad that at one point, he said, in his usual self-deprecating way, "I am a loser."

When all else fails, try the Cheney joke

One of Stewart's few big laughs came when he suggested Bjork, whose swan dress was a standout of the 2001 Oscars, was unable to attend because she had been shot by Dick Cheney. But the audience laughed most uproariously as Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin introduced honorary Oscar recipient Robert Altman. They pretended to go off-script, offering meandering dialogue in an Altman-style tribute/joke. The theater's audiences of celebrities laughed almost too hard, as if to prove that, finally, there was some intelligent, sophisticated humor for them to appreciate.

The audience warmed up a little, particularly to the fake "Daily Show"-style ads that used the format of political attack ads to mock the campaigning for Oscars that occurs. Stewart also got some traction out of the Three 6 Mafia's energetic acceptance speech for best song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," which, as Billy Crystal did for Jack Palance's acceptance speech, he used to construct a fictional what's-happening-backstage narrative.

For the most part, however, the audience at the Oscars seemed to find Stewart's performance to be more humorless than not.

The opening sequence predicted this, suggesting that Stewart was the last possible choice for host, asked even after the voice of Moviefone. Showing a parade of former hosts refusing the job (Whoopi Goldberg said "oh hell no"), the segment asked who would want this thankless job, and the three and a half hours that followed proved that question to be a valid one.

The Academy Awards were clear to demonstrate, however, that they are not a dreadfully serious affair where humor doesn't belong.

Two CGI characters, Chicken Little and Abby Mallard, presented an award, and Ben Stiller dressed in an all-green unitard to introduce the special effects Oscar. Later, Will Ferrell and Steve Carell introduced the makeup award while wearing awful makeup, Carell looking like a drag queen without his wig or gown, and Ferrell appearing as if his face had been dragged along the red carpet.

Those moments evoked smiles and giggles. But that humor is safe, easy, and non-confrontational. It does not require the stars to laugh at themselves or their hypocrisy.

Exposing hypocrisy while being self-depreciating is what Stewart does best; in fact, it's basically all he does. Those who believe "The Daily Show" is actually "fake news" don't understand either satire or the exceptionally smart, informative humor that the show invokes on a daily basis. Stewart and "The Daily Show's" team emphasize and demonstrate the importance and gravity of the day's news by making fun of it.

But that sort of contradictory, somewhat nuanced humor didn't work well for the Oscars' audience. The theater audience's lack of laughter was judgmental and was odds with viewers who were laughing because this was the funny Jon Stewart we know from cable.

Welcome to the circus
On the days before the Academy Awards, the block of Hollywood Boulevard between Highland Avenue and Grauman's Chinese Theatre was a bizarre sort of circus. Closed from traffic, half of the street was lined with the red carpet, which, covered in plastic to prevent damage from the feet of tourists and workers, takes a hard right into the Kodak Theatre's promenade. Behind bleachers that lined the street, huge pallets of bottled water and Coca-Cola products were stacked next to port-a-potties, all guarded by crowd-control gates.

Breezing by tourists snapping digital photos of the commotion were men and women with ID badges that announced their jobs or importance with words such as "lighting" or "all access."

Pedestrian detours force tourists to walk in access corridors, where back entrances to stores that line the red carpet are sealed with red tape that says "A.M.P.A.S. Security." Guards, often looking like teenagers wearing Halloween police costumes, lined the carpet and the backstage areas, a more visible security presence than is found outside most federal buildings in Washington, DC.

All of this is to say that it's impossible to just walk past the Kodak Theatre, which was custom-built for the Academy Awards, without getting a sense of the occasion's importance and solemnness. Walking down the red carpet — after the plastic has been removed — and then entering the theater itself must be exceptionally intimidating, giving the stars a vast feeling of importance.

Perhaps, then, we can't blame the crowd for being so humorless, so completely unclear about what's funny and what is not, and so unwilling to laugh at themselves, the chosen few.

Hollywood is often accused of being "out of touch with mainstream America," as Jon Stewart said during his opening monologue. He specifically pointed out that "this town is too liberal," joking that it's "a moral black hole where innocence is obliterated." As George Clooney pointed out while accepting the Oscar for best supporting actor, Hollywood's progressiveness often means that its films have often led the country before it changes for the better.

The real way that Hollywood is out of touch has to do with its inability to laugh at itself, and the Academy Awards are the best example. Films are important, whether they are everlasting works of art or audience-pleasing thrillers. As Jon Stewart demonstrates every Monday through Thursday evening, appreciating something's consequence and weight while laughing at it is possible, just maybe not for an audience that is too caught up in its biggest moment.

Andy Dehnart is a writer and teacher who publishes reality blurred, a daily summary of reality TV news.

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

© 2006