Jon Stewart: A Comedy Analysis

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In the face of adversity, the best remedy can be comedy. Comedians manage to reach wide audiences and influence public opinion more than intended. Comedy for the most part is intended to be comedic first but it can be well informed and provide entertaining perspective. Noted satirical comedian Jon Stewart, former lead of The Daily Show, states his purpose clearly during an interview with Chris Wallace at Fox News in 2011 (https://video.foxnews.com/v/1007046245001/?#sp=show-clips). Wallace sees Stewart as an “ideological activist”, however Stewart sees himself as a comedian informed by ideology. A study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2014 estimated that 12% of Americans received their news from the same Daily Show (http://www.journalism.org/interactives/media-polarization/table/consume/ …show more content…
Roberts (http://scir.org/2014/05/the-tragedy-of-media-sensationalism-in-america/ ) also proposes that it can also be seen in mainstream news media where many stories are sensationalized in order to attract viewers. One way that news can become more attractive or sensationalized is through comedy. Based on this we can infer that comedy (in particular satire) does have some power over influencing and informing the public opinion. Why is comedy such an attractive source when searching for valuable information, what is its role in informing public opinion, is this phenomenon applicable to other pieces of work outside news media, and can it be used in a beneficial way? Particularly on harsh issues, satirical pieces can help to show us the flaws in our own critical thinking through relationship and comparison as well as entertain us in the face of more “ideology first” articles and essays. I would argue that the presence of comedy in a piece, if used effectively, does not detract from its credibility but serves as additive feature in persuading its audience as it appeals to ethos (Cornette) by giving a human character to the author. We can examine this through the issue of capital punishment which splits opinion across the …show more content…
Edward I Koch is quick to base his essay on capital punishment, “Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life,” in a real world context. The first line mentions rape and murder in relation to a case in which a man was executed. This trend continues with the mentions of serious crimes in relation to whether they received the death penalty or not. Koch opens his essay by appealing to a different kind of emotion. Instead of ethos he is more strongly appealing to pathos. This is also an effective way to persuade readers, however it makes for hard reading. The sense of evil that Koch contrives from these cases reels in the vested interest that one may feel after hearing these cases. And although more troubling to read, it is something that the reader feels as necessary in order to defeat the evil. From this starting point Koch begins to lean more heavily on appeal to logos providing statistics to back up arguments against the most commonly cited arguments against the death penalty. Koch’s essay contains no comedy at all and for good reasons. It is generally not okay to pair ideas that involve such dark concepts such as real life murder, rape, and execution with laughs. That transition cannot be made with any ease without alienating the author to some extent, which is exactly not what the mayor of New York would want to do. Comedy is not

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