Like most of you, I like Jon Stewart and his Daily Show on Comedy Central. But Jon really needs to do something about his "Act Two." Acts One and Three need work, too.
Don't misunderstand. I record Daily every day. But I don't always watch it now. Not long ago, I wouldn't miss it. But enough, already, with the constant dick jokes and the third-rate second bananas.
Act Two, the second segment of the three-part show, is unwatchable most nights because of Stewart's mostly weak supporting cast -- most notably, unfunny Canadians Jason Jones and his insufferable wife (currently on maternity leave), Samantha Bee. The dyspeptic and volcanic Lewis Black, who used to be a weekly feature on the show, is rarely, alas, seen these days.
British comic and regular John Oliver, who, I am told, has a funny podcast, is more often than not painfully unfunny on Daily. Oliver's first HBO special, which I was assigned by my newspaper to review, was also a bust. Another Daily second banana, Wyatt Cenac, is just annoying. Oliver and Cenac turned up at Chelsea Clinton's wedding recently, and their five-minute segment was a lame, predictable bit about trying to crash the wedding.
Two bright spots on Stewart's show we don't see enough of: Veteran TV writer Larry Willmore (Stewart's "Senior Black Correspondent") is often an effective Stewart foil, as is talented New York veteran stage actor Aasif Mandvi's always-peevish Daily persona.
Bee is the worst of the bunch, so bad that I always fast-forward through her segments. Her tiresome Valley Girl-meets-Paul-Lynde shtick gets old very fast. I saw Bee on Canadian TV years ago -- I cover Canada for MarketWatch.com -- and she wasn't funny then. I did hear Bee recently plugging her latest book on CBC Radio in Canada. But playing it straight and also not mugging a camera, Bee is surprisingly tolerable. Her husband, Jones, apparently thinks appearing on Daily in jockey shorts, something he's done repeatedly, is funny. It's not. He's not.
Stewart's guests on Act Three vary wildly lately. There are the usually tiresome celebrities plugging their latest movies (e.g., the spectacularly untalented Will Ferrell) mixed with an inconsistent parade of authors -- some quite interesting, but some deadly dull.
Stewart's Act One has gained him well-earned plaudits over the years, from helping dismantle CNN's pointless Crossfire to his hilarious skewerings of Fox News looneytoon Glenn Beck. Stewart regularly mines comedy gold -- Tea Party crazies and the Republican Party's tired hacks -- and here he's quite funny.
And even though Stewart recently started an "I Give Up" segment after some of the latest deplorable votes in Congress, one hopes he never does. Stewart is an important national sounding board -- and the chief source of political news for many younger viewers.
He's needed in the political arena. There are plenty of other comics who can do the juvenile sex jokes that have become a staple on the first segment of the show. They sound like pandering to Comedy Central's young-male demos. And the constant "Cluster----" graphics seem gratuitous also.
And Jon ... lose the recently sprouted goatee, too. It won't be missed.