Stewart, Carson, and That Special Connection

Trevor NoahI remember old people and the way they talked about Johnny Carson. He was special to them in a way he was not to me. I still really liked him. I especially remember a joke he told in 1976. (That’s right: at 12 years old, my parents let me stay up that late. Is there any wonder I turned out like this?) Jerry Brown was running for president. Carson told a joke that I will paraphrase, “Reporters asked Jerry Brown if he had a response to those who said he was just a hippy with his head in the clouds. Brown responded, ‘You give good karma out; you get good karma back in.'” That’s a solid joke. But it died. So Carson ad libbed, “How about: he said it while meditating on ten pounds of raw liver?” I died. Brilliant joke. So I liked Carson, but he was never for me what he was for people 30 years older.

But I understand now. With Jon Stewart leaving The Daily Show, I feel a profound sense of lose. At the end, I thought The Colbert Report was better. But it is Stewart that I miss — and not because Colbert has The Late Show. It’s good, and I watch it now and then, but it is nothing special. It’s weird, but we humans really do develop relationships with people we don’t know. But I’m kind of glad Stewart left, because I like the feeling. It’s great that he left at (or near to) his peak.

So how am I dealing with The Daily Show with Trevor Noah? Well, it’s great. It isn’t the same. It doesn’t feel like my show. But it has been great from the first episode. It has a great advantage over Larry Wilmore and The Nightly Show, in that it has an established format. But let’s face it: it also has better writers. I’m not sure about the future of The Nightly Show, because it still struggles. But The Daily Show should live on.

That was especially true last Thursday. As you have probably heard, Ben Carson made a comment about how all those people murdered recently in Oregon should have rushed the gunman. It’s a typical kind of libertarian purely theoretical argument. Yes: if all of them rushed the gunman, then only some of them would have died. It has all the real world usefulness of a Dungeon and Dragons scenario.

But then it turned out that Carson had previously admitted to being at a Popeyes fried chicken place when a gunman came in and pointed a gun at him. Carson — rather different from his tough guy stance today — just calmly told the gunman, “I believe that you want the guy behind the counter.” But Noah didn’t take the routine in the obvious direction — at least right away. It’s clear enough what a total jerk and hypocrite Ben Carson is.

Carson said something else that was odd. I’m sure it stuck out to everyone who heard it — it certainly did me. But only the gifted could turn that into comedic gold. Carson referred to the restaurant as, “Popeyes organization.” So Noah just ran with it, “Popeyes is a little known charity that gives out fried chicken in exchange for money. Learn how you can help at”

Well, I did what I always do: I went to the website. And sure enough, it exists. I looked it up and they bought it at 2:00 local time that day. There’s not much there, but it is well done — especially when you consider they only had a couple of hours to put it together. The high point is a quote from Ben Carson, MD, “This chicken is to die for! Not for me, certainly, but for someone else. I’d suggest the guy behind the counter.”

I think I’m too old to ever have quite the connection to Trevor Noah that I have to Jon Stewart. But the show is certainly in capable hands. And at this point, I am as committed to watching it every morning as I ever have been.

13 thoughts on “Stewart, Carson, and That Special Connection

  1. I grew up with The Daily Show politically. It was the only news show I watched with any sort of regularity. I felt bad for Trevor Noah-he is a guy trying to step into the shoes of someone who became a genuine culture icon.

    I am glad that Stewart left, he was as worn out as I was and probably felt stifled after the experience of creating Rosewater which I swear I will see eventually.

      • I am going to try to watch more as time goes on. Thankfully Hulu has the option to not have commercials (FINALLY) so I can keep up somewhat.

          • You pay $11.99 a month and you get no commercials. It is still cheaper then cable which has commercials even when paying for the big three: Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime at $30 a month instead of $70.

            • That’s pretty good. I’ll have to think about that. Of course, all I use it for is Bob’s Burgers. But if I had no commercials, I’d use it for The Daily Show too.

              • Bob’s Burgers is on Netflix at the moment, I have watched a few episodes here and there after I found out that the same guy voicing Bob voices Archer on Archer which I find hysterically funny.

  2. Different strokes, different folks. I only watch the YouTube clips Comedy Central puts out (no cable), so I don’t see the whole shows, but in clips I prefer Whitmore. His humor is very dry and that suits me. Plus I love the south-centric map so much.

    Compare each’s take on Trump. Noah compared him to African presidents, which was funny but insulting to good African presidents. Whitmore compared him to Pee-Wee in “Big Adventure” falling off a bike and insisting childishly “I meant to do that.” I thought the latter was more spot-on.

    Elizabeth — ah, drunk, THAT’s why the post was so long. The guy could have cut it down to his section reviewing the candidates and it would have been funnier. Strange thing to see on SB but I imagine if your football posts get enough social media shares they’ll let you do anything.

    • Oh yeah, it was too long but I was mainly laughing at how badly he was typing. I don’t drink so I don’t spend much time around drunk people and so their antics have mainly stayed in the “that’s funny” stage to me. In fact, the only person I see routinely drunk is a young writer named Karl Smallwood. He once played Skyrim while drunk while live tweeting and it was one of the most hysterically funny things ever written.

    • You don’t have to watch YouTube clips! Both shows stream the next day on Comedy Central. Just do a google search.

      Whitmore?! Ha! Wilmore might be better in this form. The problem is that he’s had a hard time creating a compelling format.

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