Comedian Jon Stewart pokes fun
at politicians, teens, fear of gays

KIRKLAND — If you believe the statistics, more young people get their news and information from Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" than from normal network newscasts — and host Jon Stewart is one of the top five most loved and respected journalists in the country.

But to ask him directly, Stewart doesn’t like those statistics at all.

"If anything, I’m an editorial cartoonist doing jokes on news I care about," Stewart told an audience of thousands of fans at Hamilton College Friday night. Stewart said that when people call him a journalist — as one audience member did — it’s more of an expression of America’s disappointment with today’s news media than an endorsement of Stewart. It was his role as a stand-up comedian that was on full display Friday night at the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House, overflowing with vocal, laughing fans from the college and the community. Stewart joked about everything from parenting to his Jewish faith, and occasionally dipped into that which made him famous: politics.

"Is America ready for a black president? Barack Obama, yes. Mr. T, probably not," Stewart said.

"All politicians say they trust the American people, but they don’t. They’re just trying to flatter us," said Stewart while discussing the recent presidential election. The comedian pointed out that most candidates this past year attempted to identify themselves as just regular Americans rather than the creme of the crop, something he disagreed with. "We’re idiots, be better than us. We got swept up by the Macarena."

Stewart said he uses satire to mock both sides of the political spectrum when they are at their most extreme and unreasonable. Stewart opined that about 80 percent of Americans are good, reasonable hard-working people, unfortunately the other 20 percent are running the country. And, "Solutions in this country come from the extreme right or the extreme left," Stewart told the audience, as he focused his criticism on the Bush Administration.

"When President Bush gives a press conference, he’s like a 6th-grader giving a book report on a book he had not read," Stewart joked.

He mocked the conservative fear of the so-called "gay agenda," and said he could not believe that gay marriage was still an issue in this country. "I can understand gay marriage being an issue if the government made it mandatory," he joked.

Touching on violence in schools, Stewart said that the cures on both the extreme right and extreme left were wrong. Stewart said that the liberal answer is to abolish guns, but "If you get rid of guns in this country, there would be a 300 percent increase in bludgeonings." The real cause of violence in schools is that these hormonal teen-agers cannot grasp the idea that high school does not last forever, he said. "You want to solve school violence? Take 10th-graders on field trips to 25-year high school reunions," Stewart joked.

Stewart, 45, spent a great deal of time telling the college students about his life as an adult. He humorously apologized for leaving the world in such a sorry state for the next generation, marveled at his 3-year-old son’s lack of sarcasm and complained about being born too early to understand computers.

"As far as I’m concerned, there are four magical gerbils in my computer solving all my problems," Stewart said. "So that’s just what the salesman has to tell me, ‘your computer only had four gerbils in it, this one has 12’."

The comedian began and ended his routine by teasing the Hamilton College/Colgate University rivalry, and joking with the students about their mascot Al-Ham, a pig named after Alexander Hamilton wearing a tri-corner hat. Stewart also took a few shots at rural life in Upstate New York compared to his home in New York City. "I didn’t pass a lot on my drive up here that I couldn’t milk."