Punchlines for Progress

2010, Media  -   55 Comments
Ratings: 8.58/10 from 165 users.

Jon Stewart is the host of a comedic news program called the Daily Show. If you're familiar with his comedy you may or may not be surprised to hear that this fake news anchor is rated one of the most trusted man in America tied with the real news anchors Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Dan Rather and Anderson Cooper. So how did this guy become one of the most trusted men in America?

Why have the younger generations turned away from traditional news agencies just to replace them with the court jester? How did trusted news agencies turn into complete chaos? Before Jon Stewart could openly mock US government, scream profanities at live audiences and make bizarre jokes there were many people who pushed the boundaries of acceptable social commentary.

During the "red scare" of the 1950s, Edward R. Murrow proved himself to be one of these people by refusing to be silenced. Seven years after McCarthy's fall from power America was forced to engage in another fight for freedom. This time the heroes of the uprising were not media insiders but average citizens that were sick of waiting for freedom to come to them.

During these times one might wonder if it was possible to joke. But there were people who needed a laugh if only to help them understand their own absurdity... and for them there was Lenny. In burlesque joints clean jokes could get you thrown off stage. Far away from mainstream morality Lenny learned to speak his mind.

Behind closed doors people are allowed to laugh at things they would never even admit to being a party to in other situations. The cheesier the dive the freer Lenny became as he learned to revel in the hypocrisy of many social taboos. There, his racy social commentary became a litmus test for what people can relate to if only they're allowed to laugh.

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55 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Urban dweller

    Jon Stewart is a comedian forced to be a news man because the media has been bought, sold and delivered. If they were doing their jobs, like TYT network, then he could have continued to be a comedian.

  2. kw

    John was cool, and no it is NOT fake news. People need to pull their heads out, it's only fake because our idiot Pres says so?? Really?? Just repeat what he said, he's the one that turns into lies and gets mad because he keeps getting caught. Dealing with an unqualified man baby. What a mess.

  3. tarwagon

    Long live the spirit of Lenny Bruce!

  4. Callipygian

    A very weak documentary on a very interesting topic.

    The main questions seems to be:
    (1) How, in recent American history, did comedian-news anchors attain the kind of trust and popularity that was formerly bestowed only upon serious news anchors;
    (2) How has the freedom of these comedians to mock, offend and explore taboos developed?

    First of all, while a few random youtube views figures are referred to, nothing substantial is offered to substantiate the assumptions underlying the first question that trust in comedians used to be lower and that trust in regular news anchors used to be higher.

    Secondly, to answer both questions, a rather impressionistic series of old footage on Martin Luther King, Lenny Bruce, Steven Colbert, Jon Stewart and George Carlin is used. The narrator rarely steps in to connect these fragments, reflect on them, or deliver a convincing message.

    There is no systematic way in which the historical stages or the multiple intersecting processes, political, cultural and technological, are investigated. We are left merely with the general idea that, over the last 50 years, critical comedy has somehow moved from the fringe to something nearly mainstream, but it remains entirely unclear which factors were most important to explain this trend.

    Also, the documentary starts out from the message that the freedom to mock has increased and is more accepted and popular nowadays, but in various segments on Colbert and Carlin, it seems that boundaries to that freedom and censoring of tacky bits is still a topical issue. No attempt is made at coming to a sort of balanced conclusion and viewers are just left with a confusing mix of mostly entertaining clips that they have to make sense of themselves.


  5. lasr

    what a terribly cheesy soundtrack and narrative! too bad

    1. Lester

      She got her point across well enough though.

  6. Terry Beaton

    "If voting made a difference to anything, they wouldn't let us do it". - Mark Twain.

  7. zee788

    Not really impressed by any of these clowns, whether it is O'Reilly on the right or Stewart on the left. Stewart certainly makes a bit more sense and is more consistent, but at the core, all these guys pretend there is actually some fundamental moral truth at the heart of our existence. This appeals to the average person who cannot stand Nietzsche's observation that morality itself is just a joke and a farce. Thus, when religion was gotten rid of, people decided to replaced it with this feel good nonsense we call 'secular humanism.' Neither is true, but most people don't understand or care.

    1. tencbanrr

      Colbert is the best!

    2. Urban dweller

      Unfortunately, religion has become a joke and a farce. THE fake news! Jesus, a brown skinned curly hair dude from the Middle East painted with blond hair and blue eyes. 'nough said!

    3. dave letterman

      Is it a joke and a farce because it is man-made? I am genuinely curious, not arguing the point. How do you base your moral opinions? Again, genuinely curious.

  8. deliaruhe

    It sure is clear why Americans brag about American freedom, i.e., it's always in danger of disappearing altogether.

  9. Steven Angelil

    Oh the dreaded Vimeo..really like YT videos as all I have to do is click the watch later clock icon and then can watch on the big screen later.

  10. cstack

    nothing is funnier than to tell a joke about the politicians in the room they all look at each other to see if its ok to laugh

  11. Lamanuwa

    This scenario is actually apparent in all of human history, just before big revolutions or sociological changes. This takes me back to an old song from Bob Dylan.
    All watchtowers have their own joker and their own thief.

  12. John Murgaš

    When comedians make more sense than politicians and the intelligentsia...

    1. Vladimir

      You have a point there, its because Politics is a game.. where many sides fight each other.. and that brings "secret" and "false promises" just to win..

      Where as comedians have the freedom to judge and joke.. and be ultra realistic..

      The whole politics thing have been the same since Caesar times.. its time for something new to be honest..

    2. bringmeredwine

      Spot on!
      Also, if we didn't laugh at all the BS we'd go mad.

    3. awful_truth

      Amen to that!

  13. a_no_n

    i never even knew the name Lenny Bruce before i saw this, now i've been educated on the life and death of a truly great man.

    awesome documentary!

    1. bringmeredwine

      I've heard people talk about him, (me being such an old bag and all); but never had the opportunity to hear any of his material for myself.
      Now I know what all the fuss was about.

    2. Martin Ellacott

      I'm old enough to say that I did see Lenny Bruce on TV. Sadly, he was persecuted because of his content and delivery. Truly ahead of his time, he laid the ground work for today's Comics.

  14. Joe

    You know when the right and left hate the media, they are obscene.

  15. Martin Ellacott

    The Media around the World are guilty of unprofessional nonsense that they refer to as the News. There is more editorializing than reporting...therefore shaping the way the Media wants you to think. It seems to work though, creating a bunch of nonthinking idiots that rely on the opinions of others. Most of the people I know now refer to alternate News sources for their information.....The Drudge Report, etc. for instance.

    1. bringmeredwine

      I loves my CBC Radio. When I have the stomach to hear the news these days, I listen to "As it Happens", "Day Six", or "The Current". When the Conservatives' budget cuts finally kill CBC, I guess I'll just read Macleans or tune into The Daily Show, (which I adore).

    2. Fabien L

      CBC is alright though I find it a little bit to the left sometimes. I prefer NPR. The Daily Show and the Colbert report are tremendously funny, maybe not as much as FOX news though :P

    3. bringmeredwine

      Our glorious leader is doing everything in his power to stifle any dissent coming from the left and is wielding budget cuts and filling up CBC's Board of Directors with Conservatives. Sigh! Don't get me wrong, I'm not thrilled with the Liberals, either.
      Yes, FOX can be scarily entertaining. I have stumbled upon it by accident and can't believe it's a news program. LOL!

    4. awful_truth

      To be honest, I find nothing funny regarding FOX news, or it's punditry. (too serious by nature I guess) The Daily Show, on the other hand, rules. (Steven Colbert as well) Also, you are correct that if king Harper has his way, the CBC will cease to exist, (along with left wing funding) because one thing is certain, the right wing corporate world will never have problems getting financial support to continue their corrupt paradigm.

    5. bringmeredwine

      I must shamefully admit that for the first time in years, I didn't vote during the Ontario election.
      I'm just too disgusted with every one of the Three Blind Mice to even bother.
      I used to look down on people like me!

    6. awful_truth

      LOL. Don't beat yourself up; if you have to choose between poop, crap, and feces, I would choose none of the above as well.
      P.S: I ran in the 2006 federal election as an independent, (didn't expect to win, just to make a point) and there was nothing more satisfying than to see my own name on the ballot - thinking, finally, someone I can trust!

    7. bringmeredwine

      You're awesome:)
      My guys only have 2 seats in Parliament and I've given up.
      Good for you!
      I love watching 3 other comedy shows that do great political parodies of our political situation; This Hour has 22 Minutes, The Mercer Report, and remember The Royal Canadian Air Farce?
      CBC Television has some really good programming if you can stand the commercials.

    8. awful_truth

      Absolutely great programs. I used to watch all of them until CBC went digital, and quit broadcasting over the airwaves. (I just can't bring myself to purchase cable) I do have a wicked movie and documentary collection though to keep me entertained when necessary. I also used to like watching programs like the Fifth Estate, and Doc Zone. (not funny, but informative) Too bad the CBC is getting all its funding cut. They really do (did) provide some great shows!

    9. bringmeredwine

      Market place and The Nature of Things!

    10. awful_truth

      Yes, they are great programs as well. It would seem that many people agree with us, or they wouldn't have been on the air for so long. (basically my entire life)

    11. bringmeredwine

      It was a crying shame when the suits on Crap Mountain tried to make David Suzuki look bad, and shut up.
      He was my hero when I was a kid. (still is!)

    12. awful_truth

      Interesting story. I know someone who worked as a photographer with David Suzuki. According to her, he was a self centered egotistical ass*ole. (her words, not mine) What I get from it, (knowing the source) Suzuki is just an environmentalist who takes his work very seriously. Since he has done more than anyone I know of to 'save the world', and create awareness, I think he has earned the right to be at least a little pompous. Either way, until I actually meet him, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. (Do you think they will cancel the Nature of Things when he passes away? I mean, he is the show - what a narrator!)

    13. bringmeredwine

      I can believe he's very full of himself (have heard much the same); but his message is so important and I've always believed in him. He's taught us so much!
      Maybe CBC will find a hot young host who'll tow the party line and help the ratings.
      Your guess is as good as mine.

    14. zee788

      I've only voted once. Once I realized that I am complicit in their crimes once they get in office, since I placed their name on my ballot, I decided to stop voting all together. And I've never regretted it.

    15. bringmeredwine

      Now there's an interesting perspective!
      You've made a very good point.

    16. Fabien L

      We had a humorist, Jean-Francois Mercier, that was on the ballot in Chambly in the last federal election. It was a joke but he managed to get 11.33% of the vote. I think many are fed up with the proposed choices in Canada. I always vote for a party or candidate that never was in power because I already know the people that already governed did a very poor job.

    17. a_no_n

      None are more guilty of this than the British press, who are often the primary sources for most of the misinformation in the world because there is nothing in British law to stop them from lying. I can say for certain that if a news story originated from either the Daily mail or the sun, it's either a lie or misrepresented.

    18. Martin Ellacott

      a no n....I absolutely agree with you. Other

      countries , like Sweden, also have the same problem especially when it come to reporting the crimes of Muslims......

    19. a_no_n

      it's funny, if you look in these neo-con newspapers, take all the words they use to describe Muslims or the poor and replace them with words like Juden, Suddenly they all look like translations of Der Sturmer articles.

      it leaves you with a slightly uneasy feeling deep down in your gut.

    20. Fabien L

      I sometimes puzzle if it's a conscious decision or if they do it because it's cheaper to put on a panel of talking heads on TV that give their opinion instead of sending reporters on site to really find out what is going on.

  16. James Thomas

    If this broken country is going to evolve into a truly positive and healthy nation for all, something the rest of the world can genuinely look to as a beautiful example, it will be via true progressives as a whole, and not by the Bush's, Obama's or Clinton's.

    1. Fabien L

      That's something I don't understand about the U.S.A., why the need to be looked up to? I don't see other democracies trying to be a beacon of morale and freedom for other nations.

    2. James Thomas

      America is an experiment, kind of a first in the modern world where a group of people came together to hopefully create and sustain a healthy democratic nation. I don't think in the beginning we wanted to be “looked up to”, so much as we knew everyone was watching.

      We could have perhaps created a Utopia, but instead we have become more a “Here Be Dragons” on the map.

      The experiment isn't over.
      Things could change.

    3. Fabien L

      You'll need to change the mad scientists in charge at the top for the experiment to change course... ;)

    4. bringmeredwine

      Do ya mean the ones atop Crap Mountain?

    5. Fabien L

      They seem to like to gather on top of hills :D

    6. Martin Ellacott

      Like the fall of the Roman Empire, unfortunately, the rot from within will be the demise of the US.

    7. awful_truth

      'The experiment isn't over.
      Things could change.'
      And probably not for the better. ( not that things look anymore promising anywhere else) With that said, I love being Canadian, not that our political ideology is any better, only that we have everything we need, with lots of elbow space, and no desire to become an empire. (Note: it also doesn't hurt to have -40 below for 4 months to keep the 'chickenhawks' well grounded!