Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jon Stewart, the new Johnny Carson?

Jon Stewart (of the Daily Show, just in case someone out there doesn't have cable) has been tagged to host the Oscars. This struck me as a great choice, but I had thought that he might back off because his other job keeps him pretty busy.

I shouldn't have thought that would be a problem, because the reason I believed he'd be great for the job were the similarities I saw between him and Johnny Carson, and Carson certainly hosted it a few times.

Stewart's ability to handle a wide variety of interviewees, and the everyman tone to much of his humor on the Daily Show -- after all, he primarily works by boggling, along with the rest of us, at the antics the staff reports -- remind me a lot of Carson. One difference is that Carson toned down whatever liberalism he felt. However, Stewart is capable of even-handed lambasting as well -- and we might even see more of that balance after the next election, which would also be right about the time that some 11:30 network slots open up.

I wonder if NBC approached Stewart about taking over the Tonight Show. On a purely prudential basis, they ought to have -- but they might have worried that Conan O'Brien would hear about it and jump ship, and there's no guarantee that Stewart wouldn't want to stick on Comedy Central where he can interview obscure political scientists all he wants.

That said, if CBS wanted to finally win the late night slot, I'm confident Stewart should be the guy -- because I think he can achieve the broad appeal of a Carson: he's actually funny; his sense of humor isn't too offbeat; and his politics are close enough to mainstream (given that he is, after all, that rarity: an intellectual media personality).

His show is already moving into the position of launching the comedy careers that Saturday Night Live used to dominate -- and, certainly, a few people got their start on Carson.

5 comments:

Writeprocrastinator said...

He's not someone I would've thought of, not because I don't think that he's not hilarious but because I don't think the old guard will like him. He's gonna piss them off and not as many as Chris Rock, but enough of them that he might not be invited back.

He's too esoteric for mainstream America or least the Kneel-stems (sp). Even if he wasn't on basic cable, I don't think he could pull the same numbers as smarmy Leno and I'm not sure if that's a reflection on our country or on the Peel-flem ratings system.

One.Day.Past.Dead said...

I like Jon-boy! That's the way I saw it -- the new Johnny Carson for the awards show. He's actually someone I think can pull off a solo and make us laugh. And maybe there will be a Niven moment to seal the deal. Fellow Hailer -- I agree with thee.

Patrick J. Rodio said...

I hope he knocks it out of the park. His humor is a bit off-the-beaten-path, like Arrested Development, so it may not go over with eveyrone, but I hope it does. I think he's perfect. And I loved Rock last year, though he did great, too.

ScriptWeaver said...

They shoulda picked Carson Daly.

He. Is. The. Man.

Steve Peterson said...

My sister still accuses Carson Daly of saying that Marilyn Monroe sang "Material Girl"...