Over the weekend, veteran television personality Jon Stewart was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for his illustrious career in TV and stand-up comedy. Many of his fellow celebrities and comedians attended the award ceremony to give speeches, alternating congratulating Stewart for the award and cracking good-natured jokes at his expense.
“Jon hosted the most important political satire of our generation and quit right before Trump was elected,” TV personality Jimmy Kimmel joked. “That’s like going to Woodstock and leaving after Sha Na Na.”
However, there were also some serious, heartfelt moments. One of the guests at the ceremony was Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian man who created his own satirical news show modeled after Stewart’s time on The Daily Show, which the two bonded over. Egypt has a much more stringent government, though, prompting authorities to put out a warrant for Youssef’s arrest at one point.
Jon Stewart Warns “Authoritarianism” Is the Greatest Threat to Comedy as He Receives Mark Twain Humor Prize https://t.co/op9cTmoUZA
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) April 25, 2022
“I called Jon and said, ‘I’m so scared. I don’t know what to do. The new authority is too powerful.’” Youssef recalled. Stewart advised him to “Make fun of the fact that you cannot say anything. Make fun of the fact that you are afraid. People will feel you, and fear will be your satire.” Youssef’s show “did exactly that and people felt it and it was the most popular episode ever.”
After accepting the award, Stewart gave his own speech on the current state of comedy and how important it is. “Comedy survives every moment. Having Bassem here is an example of the true threat to comedy,” Stewart said, explaining that this threat is “not the fragility of audiences” or “the pronoun police,” but the “the fragility of leaders.”