It's no secret that I never miss the Daily Show, and I think Jon Stewart is one of the smartest people on tv today, so I looked very much forward to watching him host the Academy Awards Sunday night. I wasn't all that thrilled with this year's crop of films, so I had no real investment in the nominees, but I couldn't wait to see what Stewart would do. I mean I was one of the few people who enjoyed Letterman's turn at the podium for crying out loud. But, I can no longer hide from the truth...it just wasn't that good.
It wasn't that bad, either, but I felt that Stewart's comedy needs a faster pace, and it was almost painful to watch him have to stop in between jokes and quips while the words echoed around the room, and the world. It was like watching a champion sprinter trying to run a race while carrying an anvil. The lines were good, but the political humor didn't seem to go over well with the glitterati in the theatre. Eventually he found his stride, and the funniest lines but one were his obvious improvs toward the end of the ceremony. Pointing out that Three 6 Mafia were the happiest winners that night was great, but a lot of his digs at the politics of the stars engendered what seemed to be forced, polite laughter. The best joke of the night, in my opinion, was when he apologized for Bjork's absence, saying that while she was trying on her outfit, Dick Cheney shot her.
I am frequently dismayed when the writers try to turn the ceremony into a larger version of the host's usual schtick. I think Jon Stewart could have handled being the host without making it The Oscars as performed by The Daily Show. It was a lot like watching Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football. You wanted him to do well, but it just wasn't his realm. Stewart is too deep for Hollywood's most fatuous night. I say let Billy Crystal glide gently over the thin skinned crust of Tinsel Town's elite, offending no one and entertaining everyone, and leave Jon Stewart to plumb the deeper waters of the real world.