Of the one Chicago comic I was most curious to meet, I asked another outside of a show one night, "do you think he might be at one of the clubs tonight?"
"Haha," he said, "no, no. ******* doesn't get up to get up at the clubs much too much. He's too divisive a comic; he offends too many people. He's not really what you want to put up on your stage if you're trying to sell food and drinks and stuff."
"Hahaha...right, right...yeah. So, then, where do you think I might find him?"
"Well, probably over at ******, this bar, where his girlfriend works. Whenever he's not doing a show, he's usually there, drinking."
"Haha, yeah, right." Obviously.
* * *
Meanwhile, over at the Internet, academic and social critic Camiille Paglia writes or speaks,
"I think Stewarts's show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark. Comedy, to me, is one of the major modern genres, and the big influences on my generation were Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Then Joan Rivers had an enormous impact on me--she's one of my major role models. It's the old caustic, confrontational style of Jewish comedy. It was Jewish comedians who turned stand-up from the old gag-meister shtick of vaudeville into a biting analysis of current social issues, and they really pushed the envelope. Lenny Bruce used stand-up to produce gasps and silence from the audience. And that's my standard--a comedy of personal risk. And by that standard, I'm sorry, but Jon Stewart is not a major figure. He's certainly a highly successful T.V. personality, but I think he has debased political discourse. I find nothing incisive in his work. As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he's partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States."
* * *
Post-script, I found him coming in for a drink at one of the clubs at the end of the night, just for a drink with friends. It was a really pleasant, easy, friendly meeting.