You see, I was a little deflated. Stewart's people turned CL down for an interview, and the boom-meister charged the cost of a utility bill to listen to him yap. "So very one percent of him," one friend said.
Because of the prohibitive ticket price, I almost didn't make it to Stewart's show. Luckily I was able to eek in at the last minute and attend his second performance at 9:30 p.m.
Then I almost didn't make it to the show due to traffic — and I arrived early. Ruth Eckerd Hall maneuvered a logistical nightmare as best as it could, and courteously, as the influx of patrons entered its single, narrow exit and entrance and attendees from the 7 p.m. show exited. Traffic headed north on McMullen Booth Road was backed up for approximately a mile as the earlier show let out. Fortunately for us, our performance was delayed around 10 minutes.
Frustration aside, I surrendered to starstruck excitement. ... and I wasn't let down. Stewart delivered.
Greeted with a standing ovation, the star of The Daily Show emerged onstage to the Who's "Baba O'Reilly," starting out the night with laments about Florida and Gov. Rick Scott — yes, he called him "Skeletor" — and moseyed offstage when a crowd in the back yelled that they couldn't hear him.
Sound levels corrected, Stewart sauntered back, gliding in a slo-mo, lounge-lizard moonwalk back to the mic, and to another ovation. He riffed on the bare-bones staging of Ruth Eckerd's setup, crediting Ichabod Crane for the shadows on the backdrop. He eyeballed water bottles on a stool and gesticulated like a teamster guido backstage hand mulling over why the headliner needed two bottles of Fiji water instead of one. He also relished being told several times that the first Hooters opened in Clearwater.
Stewart also commented on not being used to being around so many elderly Jewish people as he is while staying in the Sunshine State. "I like to come here so I can see what I will look like when I get old," he joked.
Deftly ad-libbing throughout the show, playing off the audience and taking on the role of equal-opportunity critic of both major political parties, he bemoaned how ineffectual the Dems have been with their big fail on the Buffett Law — from the same party that sold American on the idea that they should put in office a black president whose first name a.) sounds like the beginning of a Hebrew prayer, b.) has a middle name that is the last name of a dictator with whom we were at war, and c.) his last name rhymes with the terrorist who masterminded attacks on American soil.
Getting a president in power with that name would be like, in the the '30s, getting Franklin Roosevelt to run against "Gaydolf Shitler," Stewart declared. One of the biggest laughs of the night, of course.
He gave props to the deaf interpreter for keeping up with this lowbrow deviations, such as a story about a man caught "fucking a piñata." The lean woman gestured an upright humping motion, which Stewart corrected by leaning over and offering a more accurate representation of the papier-maché love act.
The regressive trends toward women's rights and abortion laws came up. For those who didn't see it, he shared that the Daily Show aired a segment on about Christmastime and the rabid protection of nativity displays by right-wingers. Stewart shared that the show got in a heap of trouble when the suggestion came up that women should frame their vagina with a manger to protect their reproductive rights.
Throughout the evening, the
4749-year-old mocking head was refreshingly laid back and even amiable. He kept the soapboxing to a minimum, veering away from politics to talk about his young daughter and son and their hilarious boy-girl differences despite not enforcing gender roles: "If I take a Hulk doll home to my daughter, I guarantee you that she will have him married before bedtime." He also tackled masturbation, Jewish vs. Christian holidays and bantered with the audience.
When referring to VP Cheney, he imitated The Penguin from Batman, and Biden was the salesman who doesn't know anyone's name but snaps and points and calls people tiger, etc.
Contrasting our last two presidents, he said that Obama is all up in his head and begins his press conferences with a sigh and dealing with the facts, motioning to the crowd as if to say, "Don't you people know anything?" G. Dubya, he said got his powers of persuasion from his crotch, motioning to his pelvis like a giddy little boy.
He went on to praise Dubya for selling us on a war that not even Germany wanted a part of — and they're the "Michael Jordan of war."
Before Stewart left, he held a brief Q&A, during which he announced he would be back in the Tampa Bay area for RNC this August.
Naturally, the show ended with another ovation.