Jon Stewart: "Monkeys are gonna throw shit. I get angry at people who don’t go 'Bad monkey!'"

There’s no better way to enjoy Jon Stewart than by watching The Daily Show, as my wife and I have religiously since 2004. (The Daily Show’s frequent vacations make us rather grumpy.) But this profile is pretty good. I especially liked the description of how The Daily Show found its formula:

The road trips to Philly and to the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles reshaped The Daily Show, but not in the way Stewart had anticipated. “We were at that point merry pranksters—guys on a bus going, ‘That guy looks like Richard Gephardt!’” he says. “The more we got to meet people [in the media], it was—‘Oh! You’re fucking retarded! You don’t care!’ The pettiness of it, the strange lack of passion for any kind of moral or editorial authority, always struck me as weird. We felt like, we’re serious people doing an unserious thing, and they’re unserious people doing a very serious thing.”

I also liked Stewart’s SpongeBob analogy:

[A]s appalled as Stewart was by the politicians, his greater scorn was increasingly aimed at the acquiescent and co-opted news media. “I assume there are bad actors in society,” Stewart says. “It’s inherent in politicians to be disingenuous. And a mining company wants to own the company store—as it is in SpongeBob. Mr. Krabs just wants to make more money. He’s not concerned with SpongeBob’s working conditions—although SpongeBob is putting in hours that are not humane, even for an invertebrate. I assume monkeys are gonna throw shit. I get angrier at the people who don’t go ‘Bad monkey!’ or who create distraction that allows it to continue unabated. The thing that shocked me the most when I first met reporters was the people who would step aside and say, ‘Boy, I wish I could say what you’re saying.’ You have a show! You are a network anchor! Whaddya mean you can’t say it?” Stewart says.

But I most enjoyed this Brian Williams endorsement:

“Jon has chronicled the death of shame in politics and journalism,” says Brian Williams, the NBC Nightly News anchor who is a frequent Daily Show guest. “Many of us on this side of the journalism tracks often wish we were on Jon’s side. I envy his platform to shout from the mountaintop. He’s a necessary branch of government.”

Jon Stewart must be cracking up about this because the article quotes Stewart saying, “You have a show! You are a network anchor! Whaddya mean you can’t say it?” and because Stewart and Williams love razzing each other. Three or four of Williams' Daily Show appearances are among my favorites because the two men so cleverly and viciously tore into each other.

Posted by James on Friday, September 17, 2010