History of Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart is an internationally renowned American comedian, actor, and writer. He is widely known for his Comedy Central program The Daily Show, a satirical news program and mock talk show where he served as host from 1999-2015. Stewart made his mark on popular culture with his political commentary and dry wit, often taking the form of a good-natured rant or incisive jabs at contemporary figures or events. His history with the show has been intertwined with his fondness for the work of author Mark Twain, and many critics have hailed Stewart’s performances as a modern-day tribute to the 19th-century humorist.
Mark Twain’s Influence
Mark Twain is widely considered the “father of American humor”, having established the genre of satirical writing that many modern humorists, including Stewart himself, draw from. A master of satire, Twain was known for ridiculing society, craftsmanship, and most of all, human foibles. He was a prolific author and arguably the most recognizable symbol of American literature. Some of his best-known works include “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”. It is clear that Stewart was heavily influenced by the works of Twain, and even credits the author in certain segments of the Daily Show.
Jon Stewart’s own style draws heavily on Twain’s, adopting many of the same techniques, such as social and political satire. He often uses cynicism, irony, and sarcasm as his comedic crutches to make pointed commentaries about topical issues from the news. Like Twain before him, he is able to deftly weave these elements together to create an effective platform for honest opinions about current events, though his own commentary is not always serious. Stewart also employs satire to dive into the ‘absurdity’ of society, and often looks absurdly at a subject with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
How to Watch Stewart Reference Twain
To watch Jon Stewart wax comedy while referencing Mark Twain, look to his Daily Show segments. Over the years, Stewart has paid homage to Twain in numerous installments of “The Daily Show”, using Twain’s often disregarded wisdom and clever satire to highlight current events and provide both comedic and thoughtful commentary on contemporary issues. One segment entitled “Twain’s Time Capsule”, saw Stewart unpack news stories and compare them to items in a time-capsule Twain left behind when he died. The documentary-style piece extrapolates remarkable similarities between Twain’s time and the present day. “This is Weeds” is another segment where Stewart references Twain and his legacy by drawing hysterical parallels between the show “Weeds” and Twain’s novels, as well as topical social link which remains present to this day.
In addition to “The Daily Show”, one can find Stewart incorporating Mark Twain references into other appearances. A notable example of this is a sketch on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”, which briefly introduced Stewart as “Jon Twain”. This of course is a play on words poking fun at Twain’s notorious wit and the way it has been sometimes honored through satire.
Recreating Twain’s Work
One of the best ways to watch Jon Stewart emulate the spirit of Mark Twain is to watch him recreate and update some aspects of Twain’s work. Examples include his “American Further Adventures of Tom Sawyer” sketch, where he updates the boy’s mischievous antics for modern, 21st century dilemmas. This sketch is a direct homage to Twain’s novel, as well as to Jon Stewart’s own comedic influences. The piece “Mark Twain’s Time Capsule”, where Stewart examined news stories through a Twain-inspired lense is another worthy homage to Twain’s genius.
Using the Media
Besides appearing on television and parodying those shows, Jon Stewart has also used other platforms to pay tribute to Mark Twain. In 2018, Stewart released a book titled The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (The Book): An Oral History, which features stories and anecdotes from both past and present “Daily Show” alumni. In it, Stewart makes countless references to Twain’s work, often citing direct quotes from the author. This definitely serves as a great reminder of the legacy Twain left and how his legacy still influences modern-day comedians.
Twain’s Humor Remains
The influence of Mark Twain’s humor and wit is evident in Stewart’s comedic performances, which often contain biting satire, sly sarcasm, and cutting wit. As Stewart’s fans know, the writer/comedian practically always manages to add a Twain-like twist on his commentary. From mocking the media landscape of his time to skewering the absurdity of modern society, Jon Stewart manages to capture the essence of Twain’s work, even if his delivery is much more salacious.
Finally, Jon Stewart’s literary works are also peppered with clever references to Twain’s writing. Stewart’s 2018 follow-up to The Daily Show (The Book), titled “Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race”, features many of Twain’s satirical observations of American society, both past and present. This example is a great example of how Stewart is able to channel Twain’s spirit in the form of a unique voice and comedy.
Humor on Social Issues
In recent years, Jon Stewart has used his comedic platform to address serious social issues that he believes to be relevant in today’s world. Like Twain, he often uses this as a way to highlight the hypocrisies of human nature and the issues of stereotypes and opportunity. Additionally, he is able to weave social issues into his delivery in a way that is comedic and entertaining, often by drawing upon Twain’s famous quips and comedic timing.
Analysis of Modern Society
Part of the genius of both Jon Stewart and Mark Twain is that they are able to analyze and evaluate modern society with a cutting yet humorous lense. By utilizing the power of satire, both of these men are able to examine current events and question the status quo in a way that is accessible, entertaining, and instructive. While their words often carry different meanings, the power of their personal truths remain and offer a way to view the world positively and without bias.
It is clear that Jon Stewart is a devoted scholar of the works of Twain, having learned from the master how to use satire, wit, and good-natured ribbing to skewer the political and social machinations of contemporary society. Although some might view Stewart’s brand of humor as more crude or immoral than Twain’s, his method remains the same: to engage an audience in a meaningful discussion about pressing current issues and, in the end, to make people think.