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 Jon Stewart Intelligence Agency
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— Jon Stewart on the JSEB

 


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The Fan Files
 Close Encounters of the Jon Kind
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Name: Shelly C.
E-mail: dssjljcnt@yahoo.com
Age: 26
Location: New York City, Tribeca
Encounter date: May 10, 2002
Event: Tribeca Film Festival Panel Discussion, "September 11th: How it Changed Us", Artists Responses in a Time of Uncertainty
Added: May 24, 2002

I went to the panel discussion that Jon was moderating as part of the Tribeca Film Festival. At first I wasn't going to go (even though it was Jon) because it was about September 11th and I felt it was too depressing. I was also a bit surprised that Jon was even doing it since he has pretty much stated during interviews and such that he would rather not talk about it. I decided, however, that it was worth it, particularly since it wasn't just Jon, but Spalding Gray, Susan Sarandon, and Wendy Wasserstein -- not a bad group. But who am I kidding ... it was Jon.

I got there exceedingly early, partially because Tribeca is one of those places that is very confusing. All of the people who got there at the same time as I did went for the front row center. So I figured, why not? I just "happened" to have ended up sitting directly in front of where Jon was sitting. He looked fabulous. (As did Susan Sarandon. The woman does not age. She is like a female Dick Clark ... well, maybe not quite)

Jon was wearing his cream sweater/cargo pant ensemble. He immediately started off making jokes. I wish I could remember everything he said because he managed to take a difficult topic and make it okay to laugh. I had to make a concerted effort to not stare at him. Here was Jon Stewart, closer to me than he had ever been before. But this was an important discussion. I wanted to hear what everyone had to say. Mental note to self: Do not stare directly at Jon, his beauty may blind you. Second note: I have to say, several times during the discussion, I felt like he was looking directly at me. Of course, this was more than likely my imagination and partially coincidental since I was sitting right next to the microphone where all the people were standing to ask questions.

Because the discussion was supposed to address how artists were reacting and dealing with 9/11, Jon said he would leave it up to the others since he is not really an artist. He then said something like, "Have you seen Half Baked?" as justification for his lack of artistry. He also said that as artists they were clearly all very familiar with dealing with adversity, after all, he still feels like he is three feet tall with a huge nose.

Susan asked that the lights be brought up on the audience so she could see them, and Jon said they were probably busy doing other things in the dark. He said something regarding the audience using this as a big make-out session. But I digress, as I could go on forever (and often do).

They quickly opened up the discussion to the audience for questions and Jon said everyone should say their name and the name of their film they are trying to promote. (I thought it was funny, but realize it may not come across that way in print.) All in all, Jon looked great, and he proved yet again how incredibly smart he is, and how exceptionally funny he can be no matter what the circumstances. He spoke of the League of Nations and Chomsky and Gore Vidal. It was quite impressive.

From the moment I realized that the audience could ask questions, I knew I had to ask one. After all, I would get to address Jon, since he was the moderator. I had a really good question, but then a line started forming behind the microphone. A long line. I thought that surely these people had brief questions and would sit their asses down so I could talk to Jon. No such luck.

At several points during the discussion, things got a little heated. A few of the times Jon would try to interject with humor, 98% of the time with great success, though I laughed 100% of the time.

One girl asked a question which was quite good (it of course escapes me at this time, as do most of the exceptionally funny things Jon said throughout) but prior to asking she said she had a quick question and said to Jon, and I am paraphrasing, if you ever break up with your wife, will you go out with me? He just sort of smiled and laughed a little and didn't say anything. She then said how great TDS is and how so many people enjoy it. He did one of his, "Really?" routines as though how could anyone possibly watch his show. I, at that point, was thinking about how if he ever (God forbid) broke up with Tracey that he would go out with me ... sorry, I am getting off topic.

Another girl asked a question and Spalding Gray said how it was a great topic (something involving the taking of pictures of the tragedy) and Jon asked him if he would write about that in one of his monologues and Spalding said yes. At that point Jon asked if anyone else had any suggestions for Spalding's next project.

One of the few other things that were "typical Jon" were that when someone asked a question and prefaced it by saying he was from Vancouver, Jon simply said, "I'm sorry."

The only problems with the whole experience were as follows:

1) A couple of stupid people saying stupid things that simply served as a complete waste of everyone's time. Most of these things caused Jon to attempt to stifle laughter, and made me cringe and/or actually have to cover my face to avoid laughing at inappropriate times. These were also often the topics that began heated discussion that made a lot of people, including me at times, uncomfortable. I am never comfortable with stupidity.

2) A #$#&*&$&#*&$*#&$ chick not only gave Jon a hard time for making her wait too long to ask a question, but proceeded to quote a bunch of facts and figures that she had "researched" and began attacking Jon, the US government and everything else under the sun. Jon "tried" to respond to some of her comments/questions and she started essentially yelling at him. Jon then retorted, "Why do I feel like you are breaking up with me?" I wanted to hit her.

3) Due to questions such as those above I didn't get to ask a question at all

4) I felt uncomfortable approaching Jon under these circumstances, I just felt it wasn't the right time.

Prior to the start of the discussion, a woman had told everyone that when it was over no one should come onto the stage. It was a very low stage and an audience member could easily just step right up. As soon as everything was done, this woman who started getting completely off subject (and wasted the last question) and talking about the crisis of AIDS (clearly she was in the wrong panel discussion) rushed the stage heading straight for Susan Sarandon. I was dumbfounded. A security guy stopped her, but I felt really bad for the panel members, as it must be scary to have a random weird person start charging you.

Then a woman behind me yelled Jon's name and to my surprise, he came to the front of the stage to talk to her (he is so friendly). She handed him something and said how much she enjoys him and thinks he is talented. He just said thank you very much and shook her hand. My mind was sort of wandering as I was watching it happen because I kept thinking, "Should I approach him?" But to the best of my knowledge, that was the extent of their conversation. She was slightly older than most of the crowd (maybe late 30's, early 40's). I don't know why that would be significant other than me thinking, why is Jon talking to that unattractive person when he could be talking to me? But that is not me being superficial, it is just me wishing I was talking to him instead of her....

At this point he was standing right in front of me. All I had to do was say his name and shake his hand. But this just wasn't the time. I felt like he wanted to go, and this wasn't "a performance." Besides, I feel I will encounter Jon again, and write about it at that point in time.

Just thought I would share. Overall, a very positive Jon experience. Then again, could one really have a "negative/bad" Jon experience? Quite frankly, I think not.

 

Compiled by Melly.


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