Close Encounters of the
May 7, 2005
show, 7 pm show (first
of two that night)
cell phone pic of Jon
Warning: Jokes have
been recreated from (very poor) memory.
I started the day unexcited. The lack of excitement escalated as I hit thunderstorms
outside of Indianapolis during my drive, despite the weather people having told
me that there was a mere 20% chance of thunderstorms. When the rain started,
the heavy drops slithered up my windshield like molten crystal tadpoles. I began
to wonder if maybe "darting glass tadpoles" was less extravagant, or perhaps
"shimmering transparent tadpoles," or "dancing glittering tadpoles."
"Stop drafting metaphors," another voice in my head snapped, "and turn on your
fucking windshield wipers."
"Technically," said yet another voice, "the more exact term is 'simile'."
It was a long drive.
A few blocks from the theater and an hour before showtime, I ended up behind
a limo. A limo that pulled into the theater parking lot and was waved through
very quickly by the parking guy. Hmmmm. I showed my pre-purchased ticket to
the ticket guy. "Wow!" he said, looking cheerfully and somehow not mockingly
awed. "A Premiere Parker!" What he didn't say but really meant was, "Wow!
Some cretin spent an extra eight dollars for the privilege of parking twenty
feet closer to the theater doors than everybody else!"
See, what happened is this. Melly alerted me that Tickmaster was pre-selling
parking tickets for the Indy show. I panicked and ordered one. It only later
occurred to me that 1) Parking just isn't much of an issue in Indy after 6 pm
(I lived there one summer), 2) Even if it was, I was familiar with at least
three inexpensive lots within walking distance, and 3) I was an idiot. Still,
I blame Melly. But Melly also sent me a Jon Stewart pillowcase and three very
large bars of chocolate to help me recover from Post Jonatic Bliss Disorder
(PJBD, a series of depression symptoms that sets in a few minutes after a Jon
Encounter and continuing for hours to weeks after the event), so I forgave her.
I have to reiterate that I had felt nothing like excitement for this trip.
It was almost as if I were going to buy shoes. Not even nice shoes. Prior to
the Cincinnati show I'd had at least a few flashes of excitement. Had things
As I walked down the long hallway to the theater doors, I think I had an asthma
attack. The reason I don't know for sure if I had an asthma attack is because
I don't actually have asthma.
"My bag is on my right shoulder," I thought between wheezes, "but my left hand
is in my left pocket. If I put my right hand in my right pocket while my bag
is still on my right shoulder, will I keel over to the right? What if I move
my bag to my left arm and put my left hand back in my left pocket? Will I keel
over to the left? Just to be sure, I'd better keep my bag on the shoulder opposite
the hand in the pocket at all times." I don't know what would have happened
if I'd tried to stick both hands in both pockets while still holding the bag
over my right shoulder. It's probably best that it didn't occur to me.
I stood around eavesdropping on people until they opened the doors. I had a
front row seat, but I suspected that there would be rows of chairs set up in
front my my seat, and I was right. So I was technically third row, seated between
an older couple to my left, and a younger couple to my right. In front of me
were five hippie youth, which wouldn't have annoyed me except one of them had
curly hair that was higher than strictly necessary and thus obstructed my view.
"Cut your hair, hippie!" I wanted to yell but didn't. I did, however, almost
suck his hair into my nostrils while trying to sit back down during one of our
many bouts of standing up for people who had seats in the middle and predictably
showed up last. That hippie had a lot of hair. It was clean though, I'll
give the new generation of hippies credit.
Dylan played on the speakers when I entered the theater. The music struck me
as something Jon might have picked out for us. I think a Neil Young song played,
maybe Leonard Cohen, but lots and lots of Dylan. Only Waits was missing.
People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed.
Had things changed? I'm not as young as I once was. Sure, I'd been hyperventilating
earlier, but now I wasn't. Was I too old to be the fan that I used to be? What
did age have to do with it? There are rabid Barry Manilow fans in their fifties!
Maybe I'd simply come to point in my life where I prioritized other things.
"Stewart is going to be right there!" said a woman behind me, pointing
vigorously. Her male companion chuckled. In front of me, the excessively curly-headed
hippie said, "Can seats get any better than this?" The couples on either
side of me were eerily quiet. They would remain that way for the majority of
the show, which I didn't get. I mean, obviously they cared enough to get their
tickets early, but they seemed almost indifferent. Were they just awestruck
like I was at my first Jon performance?
Seen a shooting star tonight, and I thought of me.
If I was still the same, if I ever became what you wanted me to be
Did I miss the mark or overstep the line that only you could see?
Was Jon the same? Did he fail in some way in my eyes? Had he missed the mark
with some of his election coverage? Had he overstepped the line when he called
Tucker Carlson a dick?
I stared at the clock on my cell phone. Tick tick tick.
I was born here and I'll die here against my will
I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don't even hear a murmur of a prayer
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.
It was 7:03. "I'm going to die here between two cadaverous couples!" I almost
wailed. "The theater lights aren't dark! Are they even getting there? Please,
Bob, for the love of God, sing something happy! Just not 'Silvio'!" Fortunately
Bob didn't launch into "One Too Many Mornings," which would have triggered hysterical
weeping. The lights dimmed and people cheered. An announcer introduced Jon Stewart
briefly. And out he came.
Without hesitation, I leaped to my feet along with two-thirds of the audience
(not the older couple to my left, I duly noted). He wore tan pants, a blue short-sleeved
shirt (something-Bay brand, a small logo on the front and a big one on the back),
and a long white-sleeved shirt under the blue one. No V-neck. I think, but can't
be sure, that he wore the usual scuffed black shoes, but his shoes weren't really
visible from my seats, and I didn't think to check while standing. The stage
itself had nothing but three black curtains in the back, one lowered partway,
the one behind it lowered further, the one behind that one lowered all the way.
There was one square-seat wooden stool, walnut finish, with a single bottle
of water on it. And there was the usual mike (corded) and stand. This mike cord
would become a source of fascination for me because it constantly slid up between
his legs. He'd walk around to free it, but it would sneak right back up there
again. If the JSIA ever goes on a top secret theft mission, I hereby declare
that mike and cord Priority Target #1.
Jon looked around. "Gee they . . . really decorated. Sure it's just a black
curtain, but it's the good black curtain." He launched into local humor.
"I read in the paper that people are arguing which is better, NASCAR or the
Indy 500. It's just folks going around in fucking circles, people." He got a
good laugh at that. "You know what you guys need? Like . . . a brewery . . .
or something. Oh, and more places to get meat. Because I don't think you have
enough places to get beer and meat. Seriously, I drove in from Columbus on I-70
[I've driven to Columbus on I-70! Jon and I have traveled the same highway!],
and I swear to god, every animal I passed could be milked. And they were terrified."
He admired the theater, which wasn't large but quite ornate. "Mur-ah? Mur-uh?
How do you pronounce it? It sounds--" he lowered his voice to a sinister
He launched into politics. I haven't been watching TDS regularly, so a lot
of the humor was fairly new to me. He had a much more extended bit on why Bush
is not dumb, plenty on the stupidity of humans and how we will destroy ourselves
(our last words will be, "Hey, it worked!"), and more on the extremists running
the country instead of the moderates. Reading over my Cincinnati encounter from
two years ago, I noted that though he talked about politics then, he did so
in a very non-opinionated and roundabout way. That was not true this time. At
some point in his career he decided to actually voice clear opinions, and he
Oddly he did almost no ad-libbing, one of his greatest talents. When a few
people came late into the theater, he didn't even heckle them. I have three
theories on this. One, he might have been tired after his drive and/or he was
aware that it was only his first show of the evening and that he had to pace
himself. Two, he was overly conscious of the fact that he was performing in
one of the bluest (read: conservative, not dirty) cities in the country. Though
I sensed that there was a strong pro-Jon element in the audience (plenty of
cheering at certain things), my seating area in particular seemed mostly non-responsive.
They disappointed me. Three, he was in mid-joke and it just wasn't the right
time. But I guess a fourth theory is that any given audience on any given night
might not have the right vibe for him, and maybe we just weren't doing it. Probably
too much meat and beer.
After the political stuff, he went on to more familiar material. He'd expanded
and improved since his Cincinnati show his bits on his dog's explosive diarrhea/vomit
cycle, his new G4 computer freezing on him ("Dude! Did you not shut us
down properly? Don't even try to tell us that you didn't shut us down properly!!!"),
and the cat in heat. The sound effects were hysterical. Despite having heard
these jokes before, I laughed hardest at these stories mostly because his impressions
were so passionate. He also said "cock" at least three times, even pointing
vigorously at his while wailing like his cat in heat. "I've been horny before,
but never like that."
I laughed a lot. This was quite a difference from the Cincinnati show
when I was in too much awe to laugh much. I'm hoping that's why the people around
me were so quiet--they were in disbelief. But I was almost doubling over at
times. Another factor might have been the lighting. Jon's eyes weren't the blinding
blue that they were in Cincinnati; it was hard to see their color at all. Good
thing too, because I might have stormed the stage.
The show reminded me that Jon's greatest talent is his stand up. I've never
made a secret of the fact that TDS Jon doesn't turn me on. It's stand up Jon
that gets me riled up. It's on stage that he's in absolute control. He's confident,
borderline arrogant, yet accessible and friendly, all while completely alone
and under spotlights. Seeing how his material has developed over the years renewed
my admiration for his comic timing, talent for language, and sense of his audience.
I really can't say enough about his performances.
He got a standing ovation. He came back out, thanked us, and started talking.
We sat down as he told us the story about how, post-9/11, he despaired until
he found a man jacking off on his stoop. I managed to snap a picture of him
on my phone and quickly put it away. Then I remembered that I hadn't saved
the damn picture, so I snapped another one and saved it. He got a huge laugh
from his story, and he left once again for the last time.
As we picked up our bags and got ready to leave, the girl to my right leaned
over and said, in an earnest voice, "Did you enjoy the show?"
What the . . . was she a representative of some kind? Who did she work for?
As director of the JSIA, it seemed like I should have been the one asking.
"Yes, very much," I said. "How about you?"
I nodded politely. As we followed the slow crowd up the aisle, I overheard
her male companion say that he first saw Jon on an HBO special way back when.
This was an interesting coincidence--that was when I first fell in love with
Jon though I'd been familiar his MTV work prior to that. "I think that came
out in '91?" he mused.
I had to refrain from digging my claws into his shoulders, whirling him to
face me, and saying, "Ninety-six, you fool! September of one thousand nine hundred
ninety-six in the Year of Our Lord! You can order a copy from Chaney at jonstewart
dot net!" while slapping him violently on both cheeks.
"No wait," he said. "It had to have been '96 . . . or maybe it was '97?" Puh.
In the car, I pulled out easily (I guess Cretin Parking has its perks), passing
all the cars coming in for the second show of the night. Once I was on the highway,
I tore open Melly's Caramello bar. By sheer coincidence, I had Dylan's Highway
61 Revisited in the car, so I popped that in to listen. And on came . .
. okay, I must have combed through every lyric of each of those songs twice
and couldn't up with anything relevant.
You hand in your ticket, and you go watch the geek.
Jon's not a geek!
Now if you see Saint Annie, please tell her thanks a lot.
Er, I think he did just fine on his own. If anything, I probably helped scare
potential fans with the JSIA.
When you asked how I was doing, was that some kind of joke?
At this point I had finished most of the Caramello bar. Did I mention that
it was a giant Caramello bar? I got rather ill, so I pulled over to a
gas station and promptly bought a mini-pecan pie and a large package of Nutter
Butters. Clearly I was suffering. Or was using the road trip as an excuse to
carbo load. In any case, I ate too much, came home, and lay down in a puddle
of saturated fat oozing out of my pores.
It wasn't a bad case of PJBD as PJBD cases go, but it wasn't great. I think
the chocolate helped. Thanks, Melly!
As usual, there is nothing more that can be done except to pray that I'll come
back in my next life as a microphone cord at a Jon Stewart show. I'm left with
a blurry pic and some memories. And plans. Next time I see Jon, I'm throwing
panties up on stage.
Swear to god. Panties. Clean panties (I have my limits).
Jon at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis:
Added May 15, 2005.