Category: Comedy Central

Late Night: Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert mock Bloomberg's soda ban

 
 
 
     

On Thursday night, Comedy Central colleagues Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert piled on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his widely criticized plan to ban large-sized sugary drinks from the city's delis and concession stands. (If David Letterman weren't in reruns this week, no doubt he would have joined in the fun too.)

First up was "The Daily Show," where Stewart -- who is nothing if not passionate when it comes to the subject of New York food culture -- argued that unhealthy eating is an essential part of the Big Apple experience. He pointed to the futility of banning sodas over 16 ounces in a city where you can get a "14-pound" pastrami sandwich garnished with "7 pounds of beef tongue" from the Carnegie Deli. (Also problematic for Stewart: The proposed ban put him in the unpleasant situation of agreeing with conservative commentator Tucker Carlson.)

Stewart blamed another overreaching mayor for the obesity crisis: Rudy Giuliani. Back when Times Square was full of strip clubs and porn shops, rather than places like the Olive Garden or the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., New Yorkers were thinner, he claimed. "Mr. Mayor, pick your poison," he advised. "Obesity's the problem now. Fine, I think I know how to solve it. Reintroduce crack. It may be whack, but when that weight comes off, it stays off."

As is his wont, Colbert took a slightly more absurdist approach to the subject. He bemoaned Bloomberg's transformation of the city into "an organic, slow-food, nanny state," and suggested the prohibition was contrary to the American can-do spirit because "we haven't even achieved type-3 diabetes yet."

Colbert reluctantly conceded that he, like other New Yorkers, would have to make some major lifestyle changes if the ban goes into effect. First order of business: Putting "Drinky," his 6-foot-tall pet giant drink, out of his (its?) misery. The grim task wasn't easy for Colbert, who wept as he brandished a pistol and fired a single shot at the back of Drinky's head.

We all like a little sugar now and then, but who knew giving up soda could be quite so difficult?

 

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He's baaaack!

Just as the general election campaign was getting underway this week, reality star Donald Trump emerged from whatever gold-plated cage he's been hiding in for the last few months to try, once again, to revive the "birther" controversy. 

While most of us just rolled our eyes at Trump's latest round of grandstanding -- which included a heated interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer and a tweet calling conservative pundit George Will the "dumbest political commentator of all time" -- Jon Stewart welcomed the return of the Donald. 

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Until this week, Stewart had been concerned that the two-man race between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama would be a tedious slog, unlike the three-ring circus of the Republican primary.

He needn't have worried.

Stewart noted the fortuitous timing of Trump's reemergence: "The comedy gods deliver. On the day Mitt Romney celebrates clinching the Republican nomination, he also holds a fundraiser with reality TV host and antique doll hair thief Donald Trump."

For Stewart, the most amusing thing about Trump's latest round of publicity-mongering was his refusal to answer any questions about President Obama's allegedly suspicious birth certificate, only hours after he'd chastised the press for not asking these exact questions.  

As Stewart put it, "No one’s mad enough to bring up the birther issue, and [bleep] you for bringing it up!"

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Late Night: Jon Stewart clarifies his support for 'socialism'

 

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After two seemingly interminable weeks off the air, “The Daily Show” returned last night with a bang. First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by to promote her new book, “American Grown,” and was her usual charming self, gracefully deflecting Jon Stewart’s questions about Joe Biden and her husband’s approval ratings.

But, no offense to Ms. Obama, the real highlight of the episode was a segment Stewart did about the rather elastic definition of the word “socialism.” The bit was prompted by recent statements from Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who claimed “The Daily Show” host once admitted to being a socialist during a barroom conversation between the two men.

Stewart didn’t recall the meeting, but he did play a tape from a 2000 appearance on “Larry King Live” in which he confessed to having some “socialist” political leanings. So was Ailes right? Not exactly, according to Stewart, who spent the next 7 minutes or so clarifying his definition of the word.

“I don’t believe in state control of industry or collectivizing farms, but I do believe that there is value in some policies that derive from a more socialist ethos, like, uh, um …” he trailed off, then cut to debate footage of Mitt Romney describing Social Security as “an essential program.” Next up was a clip of Sarah Palin defending Medicare.

“See you at the meeting, Sister Sarah!” Stewart quipped, but his joke had a point: Like him, plenty of conservatives support programs with a socialist bent.

Stewart wondered why, if some conservatives are fine with Medicare and Social Security, then why do they get so bent out of shape about “Obamacare.” 

He argued it’s ironic that Republicans have called Obama’s healthcare overhaul, which would require citizens to buy health insurance from private companies in a competitive marketplace, the equivalent of “unadulterated socialism.” “It’s a Marxist dream,” Stewart said sarcastically, then continued, “Some would say, isn’t our current system of healthcare more like socialized medicine because we’re all currently subsidizing the millions of citizens without health insurance?”

Stewart reserved his harshest criticism for Romney, who recently took credit for the government bailout that helped revive the American auto industry and who has attacked the president’s financial support for solar energy but who himself is a staunch backer of ethanol subsidies.

 “Can’t we just admit a socialist is someone who wants to spend government money on things you don’t like? And then we can dispense with the name-calling and find an industry we can all agree is great,” Stewart concluded.

So is there any industry we can all agree on? How about that most American of sports, professional football? As Stewart discovered last night, it turns out the NFL already uses a profit-sharing model that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has described as “a form of socialism.”  

Off with his head!

 

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Late Night: Obama's gay marriage announcement wins praise

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Yesterday, President Obama surprised millions of Americans by declaring his personal support for gay marriage. The announcement, which came on the heels of North Carolina's vote to outlaw civil unions and same-sex marriages, was the fodder for much discussion on Wednesday night's talk shows, where hosts like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow responded to both developments with a range of emotions.

Colbert took his usual deeply ironic stance, suggesting that Obama's decision to go "push the rainbow button" represented an instantaneous threat to heterosexual unions everywhere. "This afternoon, your marriage started feeling a little weak, didn’t it?" he asked. "You got the sudden urge to abandon your family and go antiquing up at the cape."

Speaking about the vote in North Carolina, Colbert got a little verklempt. "You just dream of that special day when you can find your soul mate, and together you can celebrate your love of denying people their rights," he said, using a page from his script as a handkerchief.

Colbert also "praised" the outcome because it also helps "preserve traditional straight stereotypes" about gay promiscuity. "I believe gay people should be having hot, sweaty, anonymous man-piles in the basement of techno clubs devoid of the slightest emotional connection, as God intended." Amen to that!

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On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart began on a more modest note. Just the day before, he had suggested that Obama was "being disingenuous" by not simply saying that he is in favor of same-sex marriage.

The historical import of Obama's announcement, which drew thunderous applause from the "Daily Show" audience, could "in no way be dampened by the codifying of bigotry" in North Carolina -- which, as Stewart pointed out, just so happens to be the state where  Democrats are holding their convention this year.

Stewart was skeptical of the idea that a ban on gay marriage would somehow alter the "historic meaning" of marriage. Even if it did, that might not be such a bad thing, he argued, since "marriage originated as a social construct that allowed family patriarchs to facilitate the transfer of chattel property such as livestock or daughters."

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Perhaps the most subdued response came from MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Although she called Wednesday a "historic day for civil rights in America," she downplayed the idea that Obama's announcement represent a huge about-face -- or flip-flop, if you will -- by the president.

She argued that the Obama administration has been "great on the issue of gay rights" all along, even if he personally hasn't come out in favor of same-sex marriage. Maddow favorably compared the president to predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who, despite claiming to personally admire gays and lesbians, enacted anti-gay policies in office.

"Ultimately what presidents do is they wield political power," she said. "Even before today, that legacy of that first term of the Barack Obama presidency was already clear. Today he added to that. He added icing to that. The cake was already baked."

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Late Night: Rick Santorum, Jon Stewart sound off on gay marriage

 

On Tuesday, the people of North Carolina voted by a wide margin to outlaw same-sex marriages and civil unions in their state. Although this outcome was predicted by pollsters, it was still a stunning setback for gay-rights advocates, especially given their recent victories in New York and New Hampshire.

This gaping ideological divide was evident on Tuesday's late-night talk shows. On "The Tonight Show," Jay Leno grilled former presidential candidate Rick Santorum about his views on various social issues, including contraception, abortion and, of course, gay marriage.

Wearing his trademark sweater vest, Santorum defended traditional marriage on the grounds that "children need moms and dads" and that "men and women ... bring different attributes” to a relationship. (Tellingly, he didn't acknowledge the possibility that a couple, gay or otherwise, might want to get married but not have children.)

Leno is not known for being a relentless interrogator, but when Santorum expressed his opposition to gay adoption, he pushed back. "I have friends, gay parents, some women, some men, that are wonderful parents and they adopt children, and these children seem very happy," Leno said.

He also asked why, in the face of widespread economic woes, Santorum put such emphasis on social issues. "It’s the culture, not the economy," he replied, a quote that, were he still running for president, would no doubt come back to haunt him.

Over on "The Daily Show," it was a different story. Vice President Joe Biden recently made the frank -- and quite possibly accidental -- admission that he is "absolutely comfortable" with gay marriage. Stewart was less surprised by Biden's "straightforward sentiment" than by the three days of White House spin and media speculation that ensued.

Stewart instead directed particular scorn at White House press secretary Jay Carney, who attempted to downplay the apparent difference of opinion between Biden and President Obama on the subject of gay marriage.

Likening Carney's evasive statements to a "zen koan," Stewart paraphrased him this way: "The vice president’s new position is consistent with the president’s position, which has not changed, and is also changing."

Confused? You're not the only one.

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Late Night: 'The Daily Show' targets pro-gun, anti-gay lawmaker

 

When it comes to pointing out hypocrisy, "The Daily Show" usually goes for the prominent targets: politicians, celebrities, the media. But every once in a while the show turns its satirical gaze to the lesser-known men and women toiling away to make the world a less tolerant place.

On Thursday night, correspondent Aasif Mandvi devoted one such segment to Wanda Brown, the Missouri state legislator who sponsored a bill, HB 1621, that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against gun owners and enthusiasts. The fact that this is not actually a documented problem in Missouri is, apparently, beside the point for Brown. As Mandvi put it, "You skip all the oppression and discrimination and just jump to the civil rights victory."

Brown is less troubled by discrimination against gay men and women in the workplace. In fact, last year she voted against a bill that would have protected LGBT individuals from being fired because of their sexuality (though she claimed, on camera, that she couldn't recall ever voting on such a bill).

"Maybe she’s been so busy battling oppression that doesn’t exist yet, she didn't have time to fight oppression that does," Mandvi suggested.

When he asked Brown to explain this apparent inconsistency -- and cited numerous cases in which gay men and women in Missouri were dismissed because of their sexuality -- Brown countered that "maybe they were fired because they were a bad worker. Have they went to court?"

When Mandvi suggested it would be futile to wage a court battle against something that isn't actually illegal, Brown asked if he had "something to back that up with."

"Yes," he replied. "Common sense."

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Late Night: Jon Stewart defends Mitt Romney's Mormonism

 

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Jon Stewart is hardly an admirer of Mitt Romney, but he prefers to target the presidential candidate for his ever-shifting political opinions, not for his Mormon faith.

On "The Daily Show" Wednesday night, Stewart went after critics from both sides of the aisle who've voiced concerns -- and in some cases, stereotypes -- about Romney's beliefs. Religious tolerance has long been one of Stewart's favorite issues, so despite his evident dislike for the former Massachusetts governor, his stance on Mormon-bashing is not terribly surprising.

During the Republican primary, most of the anti-Mormonism came from those on the right, according to Stewart. He pointed to Christian fundamentalists such as Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who called Mormonism a "cult," and Bryan Fischer of the American Family Assn., who said believers worship "a false god." Jeffress recently changed his tune, saying that he'd prefer a "Mormon like Mitt Romney" to a "Christian like Barack Obama." Stewart summarized his stance this way: “I hate Barack Obama more than I love Jesus.”

Now that conservatives have, however begrudgingly, accepted Romney as their nominee, it's time for attacks from the left, said Stewart. He began by criticizing Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer for comments about Romney's family history but saved his harshest words for MSNBC hosts Martin Bashir and Lawrence O'Donnell.

In a recent segment, Bashir attacked Romney for some perceived mistruths using passages from the Book of Mormon. The candidate could either "start telling the truth" or "face eternal damnation," Bashir argued. Stewart remarked that "it takes a bold man to judge someone by a book they are simultaneously ... on."

But the worst offender, according to Stewart, was O'Donnell, who claimed on "The Last Word" that Joseph Smith made up Mormonism as a way to get out of trouble for cheating on his wife. Stewart argued that plenty of other religions have origin stories that can be interpreted as "convenient alibis."  He also wondered why O'Donnell is so eager to ask Romney about former LDS teachings on the subject of interracial relationships but didn't question Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, also a Mormon, on the subject when he had the chance.

As far as Stewart is concerned, all the focus on Romney's religion is a distraction from the real problem: his politics. "It’s not like Mitt Romney will pursue policies that are unfair to black people because he’s a Mormon. He’ll do that because he’s a Republican," he concluded.

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Late Night: David Barton and Jon Stewart debate Thomas Jefferson

 

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Author and activist David Barton is a hero to fundamentalist Christians such as Kirk Cameron, Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann because of his opposition to the idea that America was founded as a secular country. He's also become a favorite sparring partner for Jon Stewart, who welcomed him once again to "The Daily Show" on Tuesday night to discuss his new book, "The Jefferson Lies."

Barton argues Thomas Jefferson was not an atheist but rather "nondenominational," and that his religious views have been distorted over the years. Stewart wasn't convinced by Barton's initial precept -- that Jefferson is widely assumed to be an atheist -- or by his broader claim that Christianity is, somehow, under attack in the United States.

"Coming from a non-Christian perspective, Christianity seems pretty safe, and pretty ubiquitous, and kind of overwhelming at times," he said, echoing the sentiments he has expressed many times before. "It feels like it’s the most accepted thing we have other than snack foods."

Tellingly, Barton didn't actually disagree with Stewart on this point. ("Yeah," he said, shrugging.) But he did contend hostility to Christianity is a pervasive problem, and that it's fueled by the types of people who believe that Jefferson was an atheist.

If you've got the time and/or the patience, the entire conversation Barton and Stewart is available here.

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Late Night: Diane Keaton calls Stephen Colbert a 'sexual pervert'

Over the years, Oscar-winning actress Diane Keaton has enchanted many of Hollywood's most dashing men, from Warren Beatty to Al Pacino (and also Woody Allen). But at least one famous male seems utterly resistant to her charms: Stephen Colbert.

Keaton paid a visit to "The Colbert Report" Monday night, ostensibly to promote the paperback release of her memoir, "Then Again," but the interview quickly descended into slap-happy chaos.

The Oscar-winning actress started the conversation on an adversarial note, telling Colbert she wouldn't vote for him for president. She also seemed strangely preoccupied with Colbert's rear end, declaring apropos of nothing that she didn't want to see his naked tushie (though her words for it were a bit more colorfully phrased).

Baffled by the reference to his posterior, Colbert suggested that she had merely misinterpreted his backstage hug. But Keaton hardened her stance: "I'm bringing you up on charges. ... I really mean it."

Throughout the segment, Colbert tried to steer the conversation back to Keaton's book -- and particularly her relationship with her late mother -- but she repeatedly resisted his line of inquiry.

"Did your mother want you to be an actress?" Colbert asked.

"Now you know why I wouldn't vote for you," she replied, entirely ignoring Colbert's question. "Because you're a sexual pervert."

Things only got punchier from there. Colbert eventually demanded that "before I encourage my viewers to buy the book," Keaton would have to say "one [bleeping] thing about it." She responded with spasms of laughter. 

As the segment drew to a close, Keaton asked if she would make a good talk-show sidekick. Then, as if to answer her own question, she got up to leave the stage without realizing the cameras were still rolling.

No, Diane, probably not -- but we wouldn't want it any other way.

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'Community's' Joel McHale, Chevy Chase reunite at Comedy Awards

Comedy Awards

It wasn't quite the "Community" reunion fans were really hoping for it, but it was nice to see anyway. Series stars Joel McHale and Chevy Chase appeared together as presenters at Comedy Central's Comedy Awards on Saturday.

According to the New York Post, the pair took the stage together and traded a few zingers with each other.

"When I see Chevy and [me] together, I can only think of one thing — teamwork," McHale said. Chase then rested his head on McHale's shoulder. "What an absolute joy it is to work alongside a comic legend. And I know all those pratfalls are because of an inoperable tumor."

Chase responded that McHale was "a brilliant actor who has a horrible eating disorder."

While it certainly appears there is peace between the two biggest stars on "Community," there's no word on the status of Chase's relationship to series creator Dan Harmon. Last month, Chase and Harmon made headlines when a series of voicemails Chase left for the writer were made public. They included Chase's complaints about the lack of good material on the show and the behavior of Harmon at the show's third season wrap party, during which Harmon reportedly led the crowd in a round of cursing out Chase in front of his wife and daughter.

Though tempers flared between Chase and Harmon, McHale joked about the incident with reporters in mid-April, saying, "The update is, there are four more voicemails coming out so that will make it a whole series. It will be a book on tape."

He also said he expected Chase would probably return to the series if it got picked up for a fourth season.

The Comedy Awards will air May 6. The complete list of winners:

Continue reading »

Late Night: Stephen Colbert on Obama's 'slow jams' backlash

Depending on whom you ask, President Obama's slow-jamming performance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" was either a charming bid to appeal to young voters, or an off-puttingly obvious attempt to pander to a key voting demographic in a contentious election year.

On Thursday night, Stephen Colbert weighed in on the controversy, calling the "preezy of the United Steezy's" appearance "a pathetically successful ploy to seem appealing." This put him at odds with the talking heads at Fox News, most of whom parroted the same talking point: That visiting a comedy show, or for that matter, doing anything vaguely funny, is somehow undignified.

Bill O'Reilly even unfavorably compared the president to Harry Truman, to which Colbert responded, "Why can’t Obama be more like Harry Truman? He knew how to reach out to the youth vote: Nuke Japan."

He then offered up a strategy for placating the Fox News crowd. "If Obama must go on these shows, he should do it with dignity, like Romney did on Letterman," Colbert said. Cue footage of Romney saying "What’s up gangstas? It’s the M-I-double-tizzle" on "The Late Show," an appearance that failed to spark a similar outcry from the right.

"Now that’s the kind of gravitas we want in the leader of the free wizzle," Colbert said sarcastically.

The host ended with some advice for the young voters of America. "Remember, kids. When you step into that voting booth, ask yourself: Who do I like, the guy I like, or the guy I don’t like? I think the choice is clear."

What do you think?

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Late Night: Stephen Colbert rips Steve Doocy for fake Obama quote

 

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On Monday night, Stephen Colbert blasted "Fox & Friends" anchor Steve Doocy, calling him a "smug, self-satisfied brown-noser" for what he believes was an intentional distortion of recent remarks made by President Obama. 

Last week, during an appearance at an Ohio community college, Obama touted his working-class roots and the value of education. "I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn't," he told the crowd. "But somebody gave us a chance, just like these folks up here are looking for a chance."

Obama did not mention Mitt Romney by name, so whether or not the remark was meant as a jab at his rival is open to interpretation. But that doesn't matter, according to Colbert. "We all know when you’re talking about somebody born into privilege it can only mean Mitt Romney. So petty, and it is bound to backfire on the president, because being born rich is Mitt Romney’s greatest accomplishment."

Doocy would seem to agree. In an interview with Romney on "Fox & Friends," he misquoted the president as saying that "unlike some people" he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Of course, those three little words certainly change the tenor of Obama's remarks, from generic populism to a more pointed attack on his wealthy rival. 

Colbert didn't have a problem with Doocy's embellishment. "So he didn’t say 'unlike some people'... unlike some people. That does not mean it was poor journalism. Doocy was practicing journalism-plus by quoting the subtext." 

Besides, Colbert reasoned, Doocy's subtext must have "seemed true," otherwise papers like the New York Post and the Washington Post wouldn't have quoted it verbatim. 

The host ended the segment with some ironic praise. "Excellent reporting, Steve Doocy, and I know good reporting. I am an independent news man, not some smug, self-satisfied brown-noser toadying for the Republican establishment… unlike some people," he said.

As America's self-appointed guardian of "truthiness," Colbert loves calling out politicians and journalists for fudging the facts. It's surprising, though, that he didn't make Doocy the target of one of his infamous Twitter campaigns... unlike some people.

(Warning: The clip above contains some late-night language.)

 

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