No person, political party, religion or race was safe from comedian Jon Stewart’s razor-sharp wit Saturday night, as he threw political correctness out the window during his two sold-out performances for Colonials Weekend.
Stewart – who previously headlined Colonials Weekend in 2005 – utilized a variety of comedic techniques, from straight stand-up to crowd interaction and various impersonations. Two audiences of more than 4,200 each gave Stewart a standing ovation in the Smith Center.
Stewart compared the Jewish and Catholic faiths, saying Yom Kippur – the Jewish holiday where Jews fast for one day to atone for a year’s worth of sins – outdoes the Catholic method of atonement.
“You don’t eat for one day and you get your sins forgiven for an entire year. Beat that!” Stewart said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Stewart, who is Jewish, and his wife, a Catholic, will raise their children “to be sad,” he added.
Stewart also poked fun at America’s neighbor to the north.
“I think we can take over Canada, just us, tonight,” Stewart said.
During the show, he impersonated former Vice President Dick Cheney, while expressing frustration over America’s unexplainable and overzealous fear and inability to know what to do with the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He said that even Cheney would not shoot the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the face, because they are the “worst of the worst.”
The comedian, who hosts the award-winning program “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” had something to say about both political parties.
“Republicans love their country, they just hate 50 percent of the people in it,” Stewart said. “Now, Democrats love their country, they just wish it were a different country.”
The University itself did not escape the comedian’s characteristically sharp wit. Stewart questioned GW’s school colors, asking the audience “What is buff?” and “Is it buff and blue or buff and yellow?” showing a mixture of sarcasm and confusion over buff’s color ambiguity. Every comedian who headlined Colonials Weekend over the last three years has asked this question, though it still draws laughter from the crowd.
Stewart also called the decorations of the Smith Center into question. Stewart said that the University really “went all out,” sarcastically referencing the solely blue curtain background of the stage.
Despite his teasing, Stewart said that he found the GW audience to be receptive.
“I’m used to playing clubs, where it’s very much like drunk, Dutch sailors,” Stewart said in an interview with The Hatchet after his first performance. “So to have that level of attention is a pleasure.”
Stewart also said that though his performance fell on Colonials Weekend, speaking to parents and students at the same time was not an issue.
“The difference between the students and the parents is not that great. There isn’t a vast gap that you would have to try and manipulate things to try and connect with the audience,” Stewart said. “You kind of get the sense that it is a pretty sophisticated group.”
Although Stewart displayed after-performance enthusiasm, the premiere show of the evening did not go off without a hitch. During the show, the sound system in the Smith Center had technical difficulties.
One audience member even shouted to Stewart that those in the back could not hear the comedian.
“There was a voice from a patron from one of the areas that was affected,” said Jason Wilson, assistant athletic director for facilities. “They said ‘I love you Jon, but I can’t hear you.’ The sound technician essentially said to Jon to raise the mic… and it came through the sound system.”
Stewart responded on-the-spot with comic zeal, throwing down the microphone, getting down onto the stage and starting to speak into the speaker box.
Junior Danielle Desaulniers said Stewart was the perfect performer for the GW demographic.
“I thought he did really good,” Desaulniers said. “This is the third performance we have been to on parents weekend. I thought he did a really nice job of blending political satire and just overall comedy, which is good and well suited to our student population.”
Freshman Desi Kireva said Stewart’s candid performance was unexpected.
“I really liked it,” Kireva said. “I thought it was really funny. I thought that he was going to censor himself more since parents were around, but he didn’t.”