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I love Jon Stewart. So after getting very last-minute tickets to the January 18th taping of the Daily Show,  I had no choice but to make an impromptu trip to NYC to take advantage of the opportunity. Traveling around the Northeast is not blue skies and sunshine during this time of the year,  but it was sooo worth it.

Their studio is on the way west-side of Manhattan, definitely on the humble and unassuming side compared to other studios I’ve been to in the past.  We languished in line for awhile–they overbook the studio audiences, so it’s important to get there early-ish–I think the people at the end of the line usually don’t make it in.

We got lucky and were seated in the very front row of the audience.  A warm-up comedian came out and made us practice cheering and clapping and being noisy. After the audience was sufficiently noisy, the warm-up guy walked around and talked to a few people.  I guess because we were sitting in the front, my friend and I got picked on for a long time about… some fairly uncomfortable things.

THEN THEN! Jon Stewart came out and I nearly fainted (I still get to be a silly schoolgirl for one more semester!). He looked…well, a lot like he does on TV.  He spoke to the audience / answered questions for awhile before they started taping, and flashed a few of those famous blue-steel looks.

Best part–I got to ask him a question (!!), inspired by Snively, about what one unit of Jon Stewart would measure.

He paused and equated himself to 1 Knish (let this be reflected on the official record).  He also talked about the business-like atmosphere at the show everyday before they do the taping — there are lots of meetings in the morning where they review stories, tapes, the scripts, etc.

The opening segment was all about the crazy Massachusetts election, so very relevant for Boston-area denizens. He gave the Democrats a stern-talking-to that is already considered one of his best segments ever.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Some stuff noticed about how the show is put together:
– He does a use teleprompter, except during the interview
– Even the show isn’t live, it totally could be because everything is basically filmed straight-through, no do-overs
– During commercial breaks he convenes with his staff / camera people about… something.
– Jon likes to do this drumming thing on the desk + laughs to himself during segments the show cuts away from him

Anyway, totally recommend that people do this! And college is the time–when else will you get to take the day off at a moment’s notice.

tl; dr – Jon Stewart talked to me, and I feel floaty.

I was an unabashed America-lover throughout most of elementary school. I remember going to China in the summer of 97 (I was eight) for a three month visit and refusing to speak for two entire weeks because I was so homesick for the states. I wanted mickey mouse, backyard pools and pizza that tasted like pizza (this was before the widespread proliferation of fancy and bewilderingly overpriced pizza hut joints in major chinese cities).

On July 4th, mere days before a giant outpouring of Chinese national pride stemming from the Hong Kong reunification, I demanded that my grandparents allow me to celebrate independence day by buying a birthday cake for America. A four bakery-tour later, we finally found one willing to decorate a large cake with the American flag and “mei guo sheng ri kuai le”! written in gaudy pink frosting.

dscn2564

that summer, celebrating my birthday--not america's birthday, but you get the idea. 🙂

As I grew older, rebellious, and more aware of the news and world events, I became increasingly cynical about US politics and America’s international role. The handling of the 2000 election made me so dejected that I completely lost faith in the morals upon which this country was supposedly founded. I felt bad that my parents had worked so hard and given up a perfectly lovely life in China just to bring our family to what had become a country in decline.

I know I’m not original in saying that yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I felt a spark of that pride I used to have in believing that I am part of a society that is truly extraordinary in history–one that is compassionate yet judicious, with leaders trying to the best of their ability to do right by their people and a sentiment that rewards merit with opportunity.

And it’s not because of what I think Obama will do. It’s because of what he has already done. I am not naive enough to believe that Obama is that one politician who will live up to all his promises, and swoop in as a panacea to all of our many problems. But (and sorry if this reiterates a fairly overstated campaign message) I am awed that a story like his is even possible in a world like ours. And as much as liberals whine about how America is not progressive enough, I can’t think of any other country that would have allowed for his election except for this one. For me, Obama is less about change, and more about returning to an old sense of optimism and confidence in our world that I didn’t even know was lost until it was found.

So I guess in the end, it is all about hope. No matter what kind of leader you will prove to be, President Obama, thank you for showing me that America still does offer opportunities –crazy, unbelievable, beyond-your-wildest dreams types of opportunities– to those who believe in them and are worthy of them. That the process, while not perfect, works. That older doesn’t have to equal more disillusioned, that you can be successful, married with two kids, and happy, and that above all, we DO live in a society that is inherently good and still capable of moving me to tears.

Mr. Obama has withstood some of the toughest campaign attacks ever mounted against a candidate. He’s been called un-American and accused of hiding a secret Islamic faith. The Republicans have linked him to domestic terrorists and questioned his wife’s love of her country. Ms. Palin has also questioned millions of Americans’ patriotism, calling Republican-leaning states “pro-America.”

This politics of fear, division and character assassination helped Mr. Bush drive Mr. McCain from the 2000 Republican primaries and defeat Senator John Kerry in 2004. It has been the dominant theme of his failed presidency.

The nation’s problems are simply too grave to be reduced to slashing “robo-calls” and negative ads. This country needs sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership. Barack Obama has shown that he has all of those qualities.

nyt editorial page

As a religious NY Times reader, this is pretty huge for me. Although not exactly surprising, since NYT is perceived to be a fairly liberal news source which has officially endorsed the Democratic candidate since 1960 (their track record however, is not so hot). It’s interesting to note that they supported Hillary over Obama during the primaries, citing Obama’s campaign as “amorphous” and poorly defined.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the recent fervor, but I still fluctuate between feeling hopeful about this election and degenerating into my usual sense of general despair towards the staged-ness of campaigns, speeches, and the US political system.

It’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens–CC and I plan on celebrating our first voting-eligible election with a nice bottle of wine on Nov 4th to follow news coverage all night long. I’ll be on the east coast this year, so it will be a longer night than usual.