I am thrilled to see that someone is giving credit where it's due for Jon Stewart and the awesome "Daily Show."
Those of us who see the current administration and its war as a bad, bad joke are desperate for something to laugh about. Stewart and his gang definitely deliver with intelligent, savvy humor. Their show should be required viewing nationwide!
-- Laura Kaub
I heartily agree with the majority of the author's comparisons between the subtle satire of Jon Stewart (in my mind just one step shy of genius) and the self-congratulatory attitude of Bill Maher. She chose to highlight some of my favorite recent "Daily Show" segments. However, I must take exception to the criticism of Paul F. Tompkins. His incredulous attitude toward the state of popular culture and current events is utterly hilarious. His commentary makes "Real Time" worth watching.
-- N. Metzler
Thanks for the excellent summary of this show.
"The Daily Show" has been outstanding ever since Jon Stewart took over. Although it has had its slumps (like in the months following Sept. 11), it remains Comedy Central's best offering (yes, including "South Park").
Besides being hilarious, this show, despite protestations of being a fake news show, usually does better analysis than the networks and major cable outlets (Steve Colbert did a great piece: "So you live in a Police State"). I suppose that's more of a commentary on mainstream media than a legitimate praise of the show.
The one major weakness of the show is of course the celebrity interview. While occasionally there will be an interesting guest like Arianna Huffington, the segment is usually used to generate publicity for an upcoming movie. In other words, it's an additional commercial inserted into an already commercial-laden half hour.
I'd like to see the show continue in its present form for many years to come.
-- Mike Gollub
In Laura Miller's article "TV's Boldest News Show," she omits the key difference between Stewart and Maher: outrage. Stewart makes a point, but his delivery excuses us from taking the point seriously and doesn't allow us to think we can make a difference. It's like, here's how it is. It sucks, but at least we can laugh at it. If I didn't laugh, I'd cry.
Maher, on the other hand, may get tiresome on some points, but his outrage is what makes him legit and still relevant. Without becoming appalled at politicians' impropriety or society's insensitivity, we lose the ability to care, thus to make changes.
That's why Stewart, while hilarious and much funnier than Maher, is just sad to watch. He makes me feel like I have to accept the world the way it is.
-- Monte Merritt
As a dedicated "Daily Show" viewer, I appreciated your excellent article on "TV's Boldest News Show" (although I think you were a little too hard on Bill Maher).
One of our favorite recent "Daily Show" reports also involved Stephen Colbert, reporting on Iraq's suspected nuclear weapons after a clip of President Bush mispronouncing the word numerous times in a speech. Colbert's report concluded: "And that's just their nuculer capability. Imagine what they could do with nuclear weapons. Clearly, Jon, a scenario too horrible to even pronounce."
"The Daily Show" lets us know that there are others who acknowledge the absurdity of what we often see and hear in politics. Thanks for recognizing the real quality of "fake" news.
-- Paul Casalaspi
It's a great relief these days to see Jon Stewart and his crew reporting the news, because I feel like someone else is seeing the pompous absurdity that passes for authority these days. I'd like to point out that he's actually a good interviewer on the show when it comes to that, handling even the shyest or most serious guests with grace and a gentle wit that brings out the best in everyone, while also giving the audience a good time. But my favorite part is still at the beginning when he yells "Headlines!" and at the end, when we are presented with the distilled image of the day, the quintessential "Moment of Zen." I'd like to see a compilation of these moments someday; that would be a great visual history of these times.
-- David McCutchen
I have stopped watching the "real" news in favor of the "Daily Show" every night! I get much more out of it! The show AND Stewart are everything you say and more. Thanks for that wonderful article! I'm glad to know other people feel the same as I.
-- Virginia Yermoli
Heather Havrilesky is absolutely right about "Sesame Street." As the over-40 mother of a 17-month-old, I recently became reacquainted with it. It's been a long, cold winter in the Northeast, and we needed something to help get us through it in one piece. Thank god for Elmo and Big Bird and all their sweet inanity. My son is obsessed with the color yellow, and as a result, sleeps easily now that he has his own Big Bird. So much about the show has amazed me -- its sly sweetness, the surprising gentle sides of some of the guest superstars (Robert De Niro conversing nicely with a muppet monster? James Gandolfini admitting to needing a night light and a teddy bear to get through the night?) -- I find myself drawn to it, when part of the reason for turning it on is to distract my son while I try to get housework done.
If you are looking for an insidiously evil force, Barney is bad, but Teletubbies are even worse.
-- Anne Wolfson
I'm amazed that the first item about which I have EVER felt passionate enough to respond to is Salon's "Raymond" wrap-up. I understand that most Nielsen households must enjoy this show for it to have had such a spectacular ratings record, but it has always been an automatic channel-flipper for me. While I recognize there is some quality to the program, in that the characters are well-realized and do engage in reasonable facsimiles of real life, I have never laughed out loud or even smiled at any of the few minutes of several shows I've caught on the original schedule or syndication. If asked to choose a show that would appeal to the Salon "demo," I would have placed "Raymond" at or near the bottom of the list.
-- Brent Wilder
I just read Charles Taylor's review of the Titanic IMAX movie and I got a bizarre ad hominem attack on James Cameron.
He made an experimental 3-D movie that he wanted to release after giving up millions of dollars in upfront fees to make "Titanic" and was fortunate to make $100 million after it hit a nerve with the public.
More power to him.
The comparison to a twin towers movie was obscene. The Titanic was sunk by man's mistaken hubris over nature not by an international gangster attack on live TV.
There's a big difference despite the tragic deaths in both.
-- Kamalesh Thakker
Thank you for speaking out about James Cameron's disrespectful and opportunistic movies. His eagerness to make a buck off of these tragic deaths is truly disgusting.
Unfortunately, I don't think we'll have to wait 50 years to see the Sept. 11 tragedy get the same disrespectful treatment, given that the facts surrounding it have already been rewritten and fictionalized by our government in order to incite public support for the invasion of Iraq.
-- Daniel Reed Forrester