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Slaves to Laughter: Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart

Michael Moriarty 13 April 2011 10 Comments

One reliable thing about Jon Stewart is that his profession obliges him to believe that there is nothing higher nor more obligatory than a laugh.

Here he is in his greatest and most complete form as writer, critic, wit, actor, comedian and host for The Daily Show, skewering Glenn Beck.

The inference being, of course, that there is nothing higher in life for Glenn Beck than Glenn Beck’s insanity.

That may possibly be true.

Having also been as profound an alcoholic as Glenn Beck, I have been accused of afflictions similar to those pasted on the former ratings giant of Fox News.

Stewart’s point of view on Beck is one thing for certain: brilliantly funny.

That is Stewart’s main job, to make people laugh. He also, in the tradition of Mark Twain as humorist, makes us all think as well.

However, like Mark Twain who successfully danced around a bit of his own racial prejudice, Jon Stewart, so much a darling of the Left, has Barack Obama and George Soros to explain.

Why, during his satire of Glenn Beck, was the photo of George Soros left sitting on a Glenn Beckian blackboard with the likes of Charles Manson, yet without comment?

Soros was neither damned by Stewart nor applauded, simply put there to either make a point about how ridiculous it is for Glenn Beck to treat George Soros as a Charles Manson … OR … Stewart himself hasn’t really made up his mind about George Soros.

Perhaps the visual idea of a Manson/Soros brotherhood was the Stewart writing staff’s idea, not his own.

Stewart left the Soros photo there and let the audience think for itself: rather as I am trying to do now. The recent label of “dimwit” placed upon Sarah Palin has automatically, by virtue of my loyalty to her pro-life credentials been stuck upon me. I bow to the enlightened despots of the Progressive Republican Party.

Here’s Mark Twain on why Man is the only slave:

“Man is the only Slave. And he is the only animal who enslaves. He has always been a slave in one form or another, and has always held other slaves in bondage under him in one way or another. In our day he is always some man’s slave for wages, and does that man’s work; and this slave has other slaves under him for minor wages, and they do his work. The higher animals are the only ones who exclusively do their own work and provide their own living.”

Jon Stewart, by professional necessity, is a slave to laughter.

His almost equally impressive servitude to ideas is what lifts his humor to Mark Twain’s level.

However, when appearing as a guest on Bill O’Reilly’s show, Jon Stewart believes in Global Warming.

Nuclear weapons: “The problem seems to be the weapon!”
“I (Jon Stewart) cannot control what some people want to do to me with those weapons.”

“We’re not up against the brightest bulbs in the world” …. He said something like that.

Stewart does slow O’Reilly down on the Iraq War and weapons of mass destruction.
On Sarah Palin: “I’m not crazy about the whole ‘real American’ vibe about her.”
“I don’t think where you live is the deciding factor about who you are.”

Now that last sentence, which is entirely Jon Stewart’s, has a certain undeniably universal ring to it, except the Civil War and 600,000 dead has created a few conclusions to the contrary. His statement also contains an automatic, Eastern Seaboard disdain for the boondocks of Alaska. This blog has already suffered the price of my loyalty to Sarah Palin.

When such enlightened, anti-Palin bigotry is also a comic genius?

The only exciting prospect is to see what the butt of his humor, in this case Glenn Beck, will respond with.

Satirizing a satirist is, perhaps, the greatest challenge to any comedian, professional or otherwise.

Stewart’s 22 minute roasting of Glenn Beck demands a reply from Beck, in the same way Glenn Beck’s requests for a phone call from the Obama White House still hang heavy in the air.

Which will win?

Stewart’s satire?

Or Glenn Beck’s comic hyperbole?

I’ll be there in front of my television waiting with a big bowl of popcorn and side-bet: is Glenn Beck again on the rise or on the run?

Having myself run to Canada from the likes of the Enlightened Despotism of Progressive America, both Republican and Democrat, I am pulling for Glenn Beck to sober up. There is, indeed, among many graduates of Alcoholics Anonymous, such a thing as a sober drunk. However, I sense recently that he’s been “chipping”.

About drinking, you can’t lie to a fellow alcoholic.

Perhaps Stewart’s blistering satire of Glenn Beck is the best thing that could ever happen to him.

We shall see.


Michael Moriarty is an actor of stage and screen, and a jazz musician, and a guest columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

image Friar’s Club Logo, the “Monks of Laughter”.


  • Nick said:

    The one question I have with Stuart is how much of his show is his wit, and how much are his writers. When you plan a show nightly, and have hours to prepare, many can come up with some good repertoire.

  • Michael Moriarty said:


    I suspect, with his success, Stewart has a writing staff in the same way Glenn Beck acknowledges a research team of 10 people.

    The film based on a young writer’s experience with a Sid Caesar-like Show, the comedy starring Peter O’Toole as a drunk, latter-day John Barrymore — for which, I believe he was nominated for an Academy Award — I’ve accepted that as a fairly good glimpse into television comedy.

    In addition, I worked for years with a writer for The Defenders television series, Larry Cohen. He should have been in comedy, his life view seems to be an unending stand-up routine and that is how he kept me coming back to do, as he calls it, his “shock-shlock” films. A few laughs from his one-liners and I was good for another hour of overtime.

    God Bless,


  • Michael Moriarty said:

    As for how MUCH of the show is Stewart’s?

    All of it, insofar as he decides what is funny, not the writers. It is his decision making that keeps people coming back. Same with Glenn Beck.

    They are ENTERTAINERS with a capital everything!!

    It is a magic you either have or don’t have.



  • Pat Hickey said:

    Ante omnia risu v. prae omnia fraternitas: Fraternity gets shoved into steerage and laughter – rather ridicule – rides 1st Class these days, it seems to me, Michael.

  • Michael Moriarty said:


    One of the healthiest things about America is The Friars Roast!

    If Frank Sinatra can endure a Roast, so can the likes of Glenn Beck.

    God willing the President of the United States will eventually be obliged to have his head shrunk at one occasionally.

    The closest Obama comes to that is the Press Club Dinner and, obviously, the President and his own writers know how to turn that fete and his adoring MSM into a cheering section for the Obama Nation.

    By the way, your own POV’s on American politics carry a biting humor worthy of ANY Friars Club Dinner.

    I’ve been to one. I think you’d agree.

    God Bless,


  • Pat Hickey said:

    To be sure and on your first day in the Chicago Office! Man, Ridings didn’t even let you unpack, it do get boisterous here. Used to be a little troll who hung out under the pages, but Tom Roeser rolled up the newspapers and gave the anonymous little gobshite a whack on the snout and he disappeared. Jim Ridings is a good chap, but he do get his dukes up; unlike myself, who is as mellow as Chris Matthews on bennies – nah, I take the weather personally.

    While I find Stewart a genuine wit with the timing of Jackie Gleason, I could never cotton to Br’er Beck. He reminded me of too many kids that I taught.

    Swell essay, Mr. M.!

  • Michael Moriarty said:




  • Paul Mountjoy said:

    Excellent article, Mr. Moriarty.

    Your insight is educational, informative and personally precise.

    I look forward to future articles from your vault of wisdom!

  • John Powers said:

    This from the era when a Politician could mix it up a little better, Foster Brooks roasts Hubert Humphrey


    ‘Befoe I got a hold of him he thought Henry Cabbot Lodge was a motel’

  • Michael Moriarty said:


    I really hadn’t seen that classic!!

    ” … and Goldwater a urologist … ”

    Foster Brooks … most under-rated wit in the history of American comedy.



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