Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Jon Stewart V: What a difference a guest makes

Either someone has been coaching Jon-Jon or his respect for Kurt Vonnegut overwhelmed his natural egotism, because yesterday's interview with the hoary-headed author was a thing of beauty. His introduction included a personal aside: "he made my adolescence bearable" and I was thinking "Amen." The summer before my busy but alienated senior year of high school I read every Vonnegut novel my public library had. I loved not only his big ideas, but his humanism, which gave me enough crumudgeonly courage to face a difficult year. Jon touched on that in his first question, which was an open-ended query about the author's view of humanity, couched in genuine gratitude for how much the man's work had meant to him. Vonnegut struggled a little with his answer (he's notoriously bad in interviews, and age has slowed his response time a bit) but instead of filling the space with blather, Jon had enough faith in his guest to wait until he got it out. He made Vonnegut feel comfortable, and as a reward, Vonnegut gave him some fabulous retorts. One was:

"we can teach Iraq a lot about democracy. For instance: after the first 100 years, you have to let your slaves go. After 150 years, you have to let your women vote. And ethnic cleansing is OK for the first little while"

The best thing about the interview is that, although Jon obviously was a fan, he didn't patronize or palaver over Vonnegut. After the last retort, he barely telegraphed his sarcasm when he said "it's really sad to see you lose your edge." The audience responded with genuine laughter instead of the forced titters they usually give.

Let's hope last night's interview is a preview of things to come.


Blogger Weltregierung said...


i looked for that quote all yesterday.....

Thank you so much.
I was laughin my ass off, watching that interview.´re linked in Germany now :-)

- Cheersregierung.

12:11 AM  

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