A lot of things happened in 1999. Things happen all the time. Some of the things that happened in 1999 include, among other things, The Phantom Menace by George Lucas, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and my graduation from high school.
I remember this one discussion from near the end of that year. I was talking to a boy in my AP English class. The boy’s name was Jake. He possessed a laconic way of being wise in which he spoke little but nodded a lot. One of the things I said in this discussion was how sad I was, at the end of the last year, when Craig Kilborn left The Daily Show with his now famous: dance, dance, dance . I was worried it wouldn’t be as good. I mean, John Stewart? The guy from MTV?
“But, well, he turned out okay, didn’t he?”
“Yep,” he said. And he nodded some more, so I knew he agreed with me more than a little bit.
I’m reminded of this conversation because yesterday and today my tumbles and tweets have been full of a literate rage. And I wonder how much of that rage, at least among people my age and younger, is, in part, inspired, distilled, and perhaps educated, through years of watching John Stewart, the guy from MTV, demonstrate a glorious obsession and wicked delight with documenting the stupidity, ignorance, and hypocrisy of everything and ever. Stewart, and his writers, defined what it was to cut apart the news and put it back together in a way that made sense. In a way that looks familiar to me now, seeing the gifs, clippings, live videos, and take-downs, that have dominated my tumbles and tweets.
I don’t know. Just a thought. A wonder. And, at least, for me, a lot of gratitude for this man existing. For showing a lot of us that it was not only possible to care, but possible to stay sane, and funny, while doing it. god bless you, Mr. Stewart.
Here are some highlights from the last 15 years.
Mr. Stewart after 9/11.
Mr. Stewart on Crossfire.
Mr. Stewart on the Financial Doodah of 2008 with special guest Jim Cramer from CNBC.
Mr. Stewart, a few months ago, right after Ferguson
A lot of people have this thing where they say that sarcasm is the coward’s way. That comedy is a shield. That being funny is a way of avoiding the things that hurt. These people are missing the point, I think.
Once upon a time, in a small town far, far, away, someone told me that I was shorter and funnier than John Stewart. Clearly, I’m not. Clearly, they were being funny. Possibly they were saying, “You are funnier than John Stewart” when really they were thinking, “I really, really, like you.” Either way, it was a very kind thing to say because maybe what they were saying is that you try to be funny in the way that John Stewart is funny. And that meant the world to me. Because John Stewart, as much as anyone else, knows how to be funny in a way honest, kind, and full of rage.