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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 with the Daily Show. He has taken the American talk show to new levels, using comedy to commentate on 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’s doing, a fine example of his work.

Starting off, we have a wonderful analysis of how Sarah Palin managed to hijack the Tuscon shooting incident aftermath, making it all about her, turning it into a politicized issue. Her argument is how the ‘left’ is unjustifiably and wickedly politicizing an issue that shouldn’t be politicized. In other words, Palin gives with one hand and takes away with the other, stepping up with her good leg and kicking up dust with her crooked one in a political square dance that goes round in circles.

Jon Stewart picked her apart, bit by bit, giving us a laugh or two… or twenty… along the way.

Next came 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, reshuffling the identities of millions of people who’ve been living their lives according to the movement of the stars. A disheveled Leo guest of the show – 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 routines. 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.