Close Encounters of the Jon Kind
Pennsylvania, Kirby Center
January 25, 2002
was originally posted on the January
29, 2002 newsletter.
Jon Stewart Looked
me if I seem a big flighty or scatterbrained, but I just got home from one of
the most amazing experiences of my life. It was my distinct honor and privilege
to see my adorable Jon Stewart in the flesh at the Kirby Center on Friday night.
I laughed, I cried, I laughed till I cried, but most of all I grinned like an
idiot at a man who looks even better in person than on TV. What follows is the
story of a girl who made eye contact with a fake news anchor and lived to tell
probably say right up front that my friends and I drove almost six hours from
Pittsburgh, across the dark, soul-eating void that is central Pennsylvania,
to Wilkes-Barre. That's how badly we wanted to see Jon. We left Thursday night
and pulled into Wilkes-Barre around 4 AM. One of my friends is from there, so
we were staying at her house. Her mom had made little welcome cards for us,
and put the local Weekender Magazine on the table that had Jon Stewart on the
front, so it was the first thing we saw when we walked in the house. Now that's
how you make a person feel welcome.
into bed and dreamt happy Jon Stewart dreams. At least I did. I had a really
strange dream that I was in this comedy class at my college and we were watching
The Daily Show and analyzing Jon's brand of humor. It was the most serious dream
I ever had, and I woke up just as some girl was about to demonstrate how Jon
Stewart is an ideal candidate for the presidency with a series of power point
In the morning,
we ate, showered, dressed, and decided to go out shopping to find something
nice to wear to the show that night. Now here's where I got paranoid and delusional;
I know that Jon drives a blue jeep, and I know that since New York is only about
2 ½ hours away from Wilkes-Barre, that he would most likely be driving
himself down in his blue jeep. Now, what time he would be arriving in town,
I didn't know, but I thought that if I were Jon Stewart, I'd want to be there
around 3 or 4 at the latest.
So all day,
I looked for blue jeeps. Every blue jeep I saw, I looked for a shortish guy
in a baseball cap behind the wheel. In every store we went, I convinced myself
that for some reason Jon would be in there shopping, and I would look for him.
I didn't buy a thing that day because I was too busy looking for Jon. But I
On the way
back to the house, we drove past the Kirby center. There were two big trucks
parked in front and . . . a BLUE JEEP parked in the tiny hidden parking lot
by the theater. I freaked out when I saw it, wanting to get out of the car and
go look in the windows, but my friends convinced me that Jon needed his privacy
and I'd probably be caught anyway. I sighed, laid my head against the window,
and watched as the theater whizzed past us. I noticed about four or five people
standing outside the main entrance and one of them really looked like Jon, but
I doubt it was him.
the house, we sat down to a huge Chinese dinner that I could barely choke down.
I was so nervous, I had never seen a celebrity who I love as much as Jon in
person. And what if I got to meet him? What would I say?
we were on our way to the Kirby to see Jon. The place was packed. We had to
park about two blocks away and walk. I remember thinking as I walked, "I am
within two blocks of Jon Stewart." I was in a daze and had to rely on my friends
to guide me across the streets.
was full of all different kinds of people. There were a lot of older people
there, but there were also a whole bunch of teenagers and college-age kids.
They were all sitting in the cheap seats in the balcony, though. But I had a
precious front row ticket. God Bless Ticketmaster.
however, had tickets in the eighth row, so I bid them farewell and made my way
down the aisle by myself. When I entered the main theater I noticed that it
was very pretty and on the stage was a black curtain, one stool, three bottles
of water sitting on the stool, and a microphone. My stomach twisted as I thought
of how in just minutes Jon Stewart would be speaking into that microphone and
drinking that water . . . .
one of the ushers who led me to my seat. Now, I knew I had a front row ticket,
but I had no idea how close to the stage I was going to be until I was seated.
When I sat down and looked up at the stage I nearly choked. I was all of six
feet away from where Jon would soon be standing. Six feet. I think I had the
very best view in the whole place.
the usher if there was going to be an autograph signing after the show. She
just winked at me and said that it wasn't mentioned in their meeting. It was
so cute, all the ushers were these cute little old ladies who were all giggly
and excited cause I guess they got to meet Jon. At least my usher did. All around
me, I heard them telling people of how good-looking and charming he is. Well
that's my Jonny.
I just sat
in my seat taking deep breaths and staring at the stage. I tried to crane my
neck to see into the wings, to see if Jon might be standing there. I kept seeing
shadows, but no Jon shadow. Eventually a rich couple was seated next to me.
The woman, who was wearing a mink stole, said that she hoped we didn't get picked
on because of how close we were. I just smiled and nodded, all the while day
dreaming that perhaps Jon would do some magic trick and need a volunteer from
the audience . . . . I was lost in my own little world.
the lights flashed on and off, signaling that they were getting ready to start.
I cannot describe my excitement. There I was, sitting six feet from where Jon
Stewart would be in only minutes, thinking only of the endless nights of watching
The Daily Show, reading articles about him, or staring at the lovely picture
I have of him on my desktop. I just couldn't get it through my head that I was
about to see him in person -- that he was going to be three-dimensional to me
dimmed and an announcer came over the PA system. He spouted the usual rules
-- turn cell phones off, no flash photography, etc. I was really disappointed
with the no photography thing 'cause I really wanted to get some pictures of
Jon. But oh well . . . .
I sat up as straight as I possibly could, gripped the arms of my seat until
my knuckles turned white, and made sure my contacts were in straight as the
announcer said, "And now ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the host of The
Daily Show, Mr. Jon Stewart!" I felt like I had just gotten in a roller coaster
and it was about to take off. Everything was in slow motion. The crowd went
wild, my knuckles turned whiter, my grin got wider, as Jon Stewart himself walked
out from the wings and to the center of the stage.
honest-to-Godness thought was, "He really DOES exist!" I know, that's crazy,
but after seeing him on TV so much, well, sometimes you can't help but think
that celebrities are these actors who play celebrities. Or their pictures are
all computer-generated, they have look-alikes who fill in for them on talk shows,
and writers who write what they say to keep them in character. Am I the only
one who ever thinks that? My second thought was, "He looks EXACTLY like he does
on TV . . . only better."
wearing khaki pants, a lavender or light blue T-shirt (I couldn't tell for sure
under the lights) and of course, his famous leather jacket. He looked so sexy
as he smiled his wonderful smile and walked across the stage waving at everyone.
I was just in shock. I really don't know what I was expecting, but my faith
in the transmitting powers of cameras must not be too good, because I couldn't
get over the fact that he looked like himself. I pinched myself really hard
a couple of times, so much so that the rich woman sitting next to me gave me
a funny look.
everyone as he took the microphone out of the holder. He said it the same way
he does on the Daily Show when the crowd goes wild, the college students in
the balcony were wooing and screaming, the older people were politely clapping.
We gave him a good hearty applause.
As the audience
settled down expectantly, Jon said, "I finally made it to the Kirby!" which
made everyone laugh. He made a lot of jokes about Wilkes-Barre that I couldn't
really appreciate since I'm not from there, but the locals loved them. I couldn't
get over the fact that Jon sounded like Jon. Or that he was standing only six
feet away from me. We were breathing the same air. My God.
take my eyes off of him, I couldn't believe he was standing right there in front
of me. I kept saying to myself, "Look! It's Jon Stewart! He's real!" I sort
of started to scare myself a bit, but eventually I settled down and got used
to the idea of him being right in front of me.
one of his water bottles and told the audience to have some too. We didn't say
anything so he looked at us and said, "You do have water don't you? Didn't you
get some? Do you mean I have the last three bottles?"
ripped on Wilkes-Barre, saying the theater was pretty but it was in a "shithole
of a town." The crowd loved that. He likened the locals to Canadians, doing
his usual Canadian jokes that I've read, but never heard him say. That was great,
hearing him say stuff that he's been quoted on before and I've read, but never
heard him say. It was heaven, pure heaven.
stuff everyone says about Jon making half the stuff up on the spot is true,
he does. He would ask the audience a question like what they do for fun, or
where they would be tonight if they weren't there seeing him perform and some
guy said, "Banana Joe's." Jon laughed at that, saying, "Banana JOE'S? Is that
a real place? You've got to be kidding me!" I'll tell you what, hearing him
laugh in person was a thrill for me. He has the most adorable little laugh and
hearing it in person after hearing it on the show was . . . well you know what
I mean by now. We actually have a Banana Joe's here in Pittsburgh, so I knew
what everyone was talking about. Jon loved the fact that there was a bar named
Banana Joe's and he ripped on it the rest of the night saying stuff like, "What,
was Kumquat Keith's closed?"
it was funny how fidgety he was on stage. He kept playing with the little stand
that had held the microphone, rolling it around on the floor and commenting
on how the lights played off of it. He would wander around the stage, looking
up at the ceiling. He actually apologized, saying that if he seemed fidgety
it was because he used to smoke on stage and since he quit he doesn't know what
to do with himself anymore. A couple guys in the audience shouted, "You're a
quitter!" at him and Jon said, "Yeah, I know, I'm a quitter." He said it was
too bad he quit smoking cause he was only 150 Marlboro points away from a boat.
One of the
best parts was watching him sing and dance. He did this little joke about how
lousy Scranton, Pennsylvania is and was saying how there are all these songs
about going to New York and making it big, but Scranton is a lousy town that
no one wants to go to. He said, "Scranton isn't the place where, like in a movie
you see two young lovers walking hand in hand going, You know someday
I'm gonna make it all the way to Scranton" and then he did some kind of song
about Scranton that was supposed be like New York, New York and added these
little kicks at the end. The audience went wild.
made fun of Bea Arthur all night long. Apparently she had performed once at
the Kirby and Jon was asking some guy in the audience what she did. The guy
was all haughty and indignant (I guess he was a big Bea Arthur fan) and said,
"She sang, she told jokes, AND she was barefoot!" Jon, along with everyone else
laughed his beautiful, wonderful laugh and joked that Bea Arthur was already
eight feet tall and if she had worn shoes the audience would have fled in terror.
Jon joked about his own height too, saying, "So did you guys think I'd be taller?
I get that a lot." No Jon, you're perfect just the way you are!
get me started on his eyes. Well, maybe I will start on his eyes. You see, Jon
looked at me with his beautiful eyes. Not just once, but TWICE. Yes, it's true.
The first time, Jon was making fun of old people and was glancing across the
first row saying how everyone was old. His eyes landed on me (since I literally
was the only person under 30 in the first, like five rows) and for one instant
in time we made eye contact. I think he was going to say something about/to
me for being the youngest one, but he must have thought of something better
to say cause he didn't. Actually, when his eyes landed on me and STAYED on me,
I kind of started shaking in nervousness and excitement and my own eyes grew
really wide. So he probably could tell I was scared. HA! Jon was looking out
for my best interests. Jon CARES about me! Jon wants nothing more than to hold
me in his arms and whisper words of comfort in my ear!
if I thought that making eye contact was the cat's meow, boy was I in for a
surprise. At one point in between jokes, Jon stopped and pointed to the front
row saying, "Anybody know what time it is?" Everyone was checking their watch
and a couple voices called out the time and I joined in, saying, "Twenty after
nine." And then
Jon LOOKED at me again and said the most beautiful, wonderful
thing. He said, "What?" and I said, "Twenty after nine," and he said, "Thank
you!" and smiled at me. He smiled his gorgeous, beautiful, wonderful smile at
ME. I almost died from happiness.
Now, I should
probably stress here just how FUNNY Jon is. I know and you all know that Jon
is a funny man, but that's an understatement. He is freaking HYSTERICAL! He
literally has magical powers that he uses to bring the audience under his control
and render them nothing but lumps of giggling flesh. I don't know how many times
I was pressing my hands against my stomach, trying to breathe and getting a
headache from laughing so hard. And what's so great is that EVERYONE found him
funny, not just the college students in the balcony. Even the rich woman next
to me was red-faced from laughing so hard.
One of my
favorite jokes that Jon did was the one about hemorrhoids. He said that once
he had to go to the doctor because he thought he might have a hemorrhoid, and
the nurse had him all bent over and everything and the doctor came in and looked
and said in an accusatory tone, "I don't see anything!" And Jon was so funny,
he said, "I don't know why the doctor says it that way, it's not like it's some
kind of game. It's not like I get my kicks that way. I'm not going to turn around
and say, Gotcha! Made you look in my ass again!'" The audience roared
at that one.
very, very, very best thing ever, something I could never get tired of watching
is the famous Cat in Heat Impression. And I capitalize it because it deserves
to be capitalized. The Cat in Heat Impression should be memorialized in some
kind of comedy Hall of Fame along with "Who's on First?" and Celebrity Jeopardy
from SNL. Now, I had heard lots about the Cat in Heat Impression. I heard that
it was funny, and one of Jon's staples in his stand up routines, but I'd never
actually seen it done. So when Jon said, "My wife and I have a cat and it goes
into heat every once and a while," I knew that I (and the audience) was in for
of you who haven't had the honor of witnessing The Cat in Heat Impression, I
will paraphrase for you (but unfortunately I cannot make the sound). Here goes:
my wife and I have a cat and it goes into heat every once a while. It will climb
to the very top of the china closet or something, and stick out The Satellite
Dish (Jon demonstrates by turning around and bending over and sticking out his
butt. Needless to say, I enjoyed this immensely) and it'll do this (Jon makes
the sacred Cat in Heat Impression Moaning Cat Noise. Ever seen Jurassic Park,
the first one? Know the scene where they find the sick, moaning triceratops?
Well Jon kind of sounded like the that).
roars at this, but that's not all . . . .
bent over) And then she'll look behind her to see if she has any takers (Jon
looks around), and then she'll repeat the process (Jon makes the moaning noise
again and looks around again). Anyone? Anyone?
point I am getting brain damage from lack of Oxygen. I am literally doubled
over in my seat with my head between my legs, crying from laughing so hard.
The whole audience was pretty much in the same position. Jon had rendered us
gelatinous with laughter. There's something incredibly sexy about that. Moaning
cat noise and all.
I can sympathize with her, I mean, I've been pretty horny before, but I've never
gone up to a girl in a bar and said, "Hey baby," (Jon makes the moaning cat
noise again). So when I see my cat doing this, I think, that's pretty f***ing
point the audience just gives up and dies. Jon wanders off the stage alone as
we go limp in our seats. Okay, no, not really, but almost. Actually, Jon kind
of stood there grinning at us and watching us gasp for air. I bet he loved watching
what he could do to us. Then, just as I and everyone else in the audience were
finally able to inhale just enough air to sustain life in our bodies, Jon made
the noise again, and we lost it all over again.
that everyone that night, even those who weren't that familiar with him, fell
in love. I remember thinking to myself, "And I thought I liked this guy before?
I called that love? Pshaw! That wasn't love!" I didn't think it was possible
to love Jon any more than I already did, but apparently stranger things have
It was over
all too soon. He had been up there for an hour and a half, but it seemed like
10 minutes. I was disappointed because there were three bottles of water out
and I thought it was going to be a three-bottles-of-water show, but I guess
Jon is a one-bottle-a-show kind of guy. What I hate about standup comedy is
that you never know when The End is coming. Jon was right in the middle of telling
a joke about Jewish people and we were sitting there laughing contentedly when
all of a sudden he said, "You've been a great audience, thank you so much!"
We all stood and cheered and whistled and Jon bowed and smiled and walked off
stage. But then a hand popped out from behind the curtain on the other side
of the stage and gestured to him to come the other way, so he walked back across
the stage. A bunch of people in the balcony were shouting, "We love you, Jon!"
Some clever and well-prepared person snapped a picture as he was walking off
stage. I wish I had thought of that.
applause died down, I immediately threw on my coat and grabbed my purse. Inside
was a felt tip pen, a regular pen, a camera, and the magazine that Jon was on
the cover of. I had come prepared. I ran for the exit and stood by the stage
door outside, I was soon joined by about ten other people, all of them toting
either the same magazine or a copy of Jon's book. Up the street, at the other
exit, another small band of devoted fans had gathered. I took a short walk around
the theater to make sure we had all the exits covered. We were good to wait.
we know that Jon had already left. We stood out there for maybe a half an hour,
shivering and chatting and talking about Jon. I talked to a group of about four
girls who might have been in college, but were definitely from the area. I heard
one of them say something about being Jon's number one fan. We started talking
about where he could be or what he might be doing in there. I mentioned to them
that Jon drives a blue jeep and that I saw it before the show started but not
when I did my walk around the building. This worried me a little, but I figured
that someone might have parked it somewhere else or had it ready for him.
up to the other group at the other door and asked them if they knew anything.
They knew nothing, so I told them that if Jon came out their door to tell us,
and if Jon came out our door we'd tell them. Jon Stewart fans have to stick
together, after all.
after more waiting and walking in circles to keep warm, some smug woman came
up to us and told us that he was gone. We looked at her dejectedly. I boldly
asked her how she knew and she smugly told me that she was the theater director.
I asked her if she was lying and she said no. Well what was she supposed to
the stage door opened and we all spun around, giving the woman dirty looks,
but sadly, some janitor dude emerged, looking surprised to see all the people
outside. The woman called to him by name and asked him if Jon had left. He said
the Jon Stewart fans scattered into the cold North Eastern PA night . . . wiser.
I think that either A) Someone had the jeep waiting and Jon walked right off
the stage and outside into his jeep where he took off to beat the traffic (this
would explain why it was necessary for Jon to exit at a certain side of the
stage) or B) Everyone at that theater is a lying bastard. But I look at it this
way -- if they went to that much trouble to make sure that no one saw Jon, I
guess he didn't want to be seen. I think a few people stayed just to make sure
Jon was really gone, but the only thing that makes missing Jon bearable is the
thought that no one else got to meet him.
I don't know why Jon never signs autographs after shows. It's not like there
were throngs of people out there, there were probably about 10 people at both
exits, no more than 20 people all together. Would it have been so bad to come
out and say hi?
I'm not complaining. Jon is the most wonderful person in the world and if he
doesn't feel like signing autographs, then he doesn't feel like signing autographs.
I got to see him in person, laugh my ass off, and have him SMILE at me! Every
time I watch The Daily Show, I am going to look into Jon's gorgeous eyes and
remember that once, one cold, lonely night in a sad little town in Pennsylvania,
I looked into the eyes of Jon Stewart . . . and his eyes looked back at me.
Compiled by Melly.