My name is Jeanette. I am a Jon Stewart junkie. Because Jon Stewart is sexy not Hollywood sexy, brain sexy. His kind is the kind I taught my daughters to respect, the kind that is 95 percent from the neck up. Pollster Frank Luntz once told a group of Jewish freelancers that Stewart is so powerful, he could single-handedly save Jewish youth from assimilation but only two people in the room had ever heard of him and that’s cause Jon Stewart lives on cable TV at Comedy Central.
But now that he’s done the Oscars and kicked it up a couple of notches intellectually, I hope it doesn’t go to his head. I hope he stays put and doesn’t wander off into Lala Land. I am one of those who force themselves to stay awake at least until 11 from Mondays through Thursdays, so I can watch him "fresh" on The Daily Show. That is where he highlights the global insanities our fearless leaders have perpetrated and takes pot shots at preposterous aspects of pop culture, Hollywood included. On rerun nights I retire early.
Stewart’s brainy humor doesn’t usually endear him to stodgy establishment types (they just don’t get it), so we regular fans were dizzy with delight when we heard he was going to host the Oscars. But we were also a little worried. Should he take it seriously? Ehhhh, not so much? Should we?
His edgy Jewy-ness might be an issue, he mused on his own show at one point. His is the latest generation of comedy couched in the Catskills, but it is not the broad Yiddishy humor of a Billy Crystal. He is more Heeby and Jewschooly knifey, in fact. What would he do with "Munich," some wondered; what would he say about the suicide bomber flick?
Those of us who watch him closely know he shies away from the touchier issues in the Middle East. The hairiest thing he ever did was "The Jew Carry Show" about the disengagement from Gaza. Even if you hated it, you had to admit it was hilarious. So how far would he go at the Oscars was the real question and the answer is not far enough to commit suicide on the air.
Most of the pundits are ridiculous. Hardcore fans wanted him to bust the place open. Who were they comparing him to? Bob Hope, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal the gods? More than a week ago he discussed the gig with Roger Ebert, who put Stewart’s beautiful brain in a Cuisinart and set it on pulse, freaking Stewart out just a little, telling him that millions and millions and millions of people would be watching. (You can check out the Daily Show clips at www.thedailyshow.com to your hearts’ content.)
So yeah, you could tell Jewcy Jon was nervous going in, he admitted it. And regulars know the difference between his faking it and not. When a joke falls flat on the show, he admits that, too, shrugs and keeps on truckin’.
When he came out on that huge stage on Sunday, in front of that huge statue, who knew what would happen? Fourth male lead in "Death to Smoochy," he’d been a B-list regular for years. (Stewart’s latest movie role is in Doogal, an animated feature for kids, where he plays an evil blue spring who does away with his enemies by spitting ice through his moustache. It opened last week and one critic advised parents who love their kids to spare them this trial.) He told Oprah his wife was supposed to talk him out of the gig, but she didn’t succeed.
At least he isn’t full of himself. In Movieland, Stewart set himself up perfectly with a film montage of past hosts who said no to the dirty job.
He finally finds himself in bed with George Clooney who gently informs him he’s got to get up and do the Oscars.
There he was, dwarfed by all the greats, including Jack Nicholson (who blew his mind backstage, Stewart said) and Oscar himself. The kid from Livingston, N.J., managed to remain true to himself and his craft, despite the critics who expected some kind of epiphany. Epiphanies don’t happen every day. Stewart got up there and performed his stock in trade funny, cerebral, cutting jokes aimed at your brain. He makes you think, and then you have to laugh. Even at things that would normally be taboo.
Case in point: Spielberg wasn’t spared what some might think was a well-deserved skewering for "Munich." When Stewart said that after "Schindler’s List" and Munich, he couldn’t wait to find out what happens to the Jews next, wasn’t he just telling the truth? Aren’t we all wondering about the next act?
Trilogy or trifecta. You decide.