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Jon’s Daily Show: Imagination Is More Important Than Knowledge

(First published in Urban Times on 26th Jan 2011)

Jon Stewart has turned the volume up and upped the stakes considerably. With the Daily Show. He has taken the American talk show to new levels, using comedy to commentate about the world rather than make comments about everything in a joke-cue-applause manner.

Last week’s episode, 18 January 2011, is testament to what he is doing and a fine example of his work.

Starting off, we have a wonderful analysis of how Sarah Palin somehow managed to hijack the Tuscon shooting incident aftermath, making it all about her, turning it into a politicized issue. Her main argument is how the ‘left’ is unjustifiably and wickedly politicizing an issue that shouldn’t be politicized. In short Palin is giving with one hand and taking away with the other, stepping up with her good leg and kicking up dust with her crooked one in a political square dance that’s going round in circles. Jon Stewart picks up on her moves and reveals them for all to see, giving us a laugh, or two… or twenty along the way.

Next we have the zodiac realignment. The extra astrological sign recently added to the familiar twelve due to the earth’s new tilt, Ophiuchus, has upset the order of an entire belief system and is reshuffling the identities of millions of people who have been living their lives according to the movement of the stars. A disheveled Leo guest – now a Cancer – explains why the zodiac shift is so detrimental to him and what it means to be star-struck-out. Jon Stewart is there to question the man and find out more.

Finally, we have astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who talks about his latest PBS special. He explains how a mission to Mars is not as easy or straightforward as it sounds, how food needs to be stored with scientific prudence to withstand the long trip into space, how dangerous it is for spaceships to cross the cosmic oceans. He tells Jon how aging may be slowed down through stem-cell transplants, assuring him that they’re not making stuff up. Jon says that he wouldn’t be able to tell if they were. The show ends with the famous Einstein quote: Imagination is more important than knowledge.

At last, a talk show with substance. The approach is fresh and the angle inspiring. Suddenly TV is more than captions, infomercials and mental recycling. It’s more than entertainment celebrities and the usual glamor parade. The scope has widened. Thank you Jon Stewart for introducing science and discovery to our daily lives. Thank you for presenting us with visionary prospects. Thank you for exposing dangerous fallacies and for touching on delicate issues without fear of being branded politically incorrect. Thank you for squaring up to hypocrisy and taking it head on, and for doing it in a non-partisan way, from Palin to Obama and everyone in between. Thank you for the reinvented perspective.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Daily Show.