"Jon Stewart: Naked Pictures of Famous People"
The Onion
Date ?, 199?
by Stephen Thompson


Jon Stewart is, in many ways, the perfect talk-show host, a quick-witted, charismatic ad-libber who's not afraid to take aim at targets both sacred (Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ) and easy (Hanson, Martha Stewart). His specialty, as anyone who has seen him on stage knows, is his nimble, stream-of-consciousness wit and easy-going charm; he's smug without seeming superior, unlike the unctuous Craig Kilborn, whom Stewart will replace as the host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show in January. If any contemporary comedian should translate well to the printed page, it's Stewart, but Naked Pictures Of Famous People is awfully slight and uneven. For every winner like "The Recipe" (an awards-show template recently reprinted, and more effectively packaged, in The New Yorker), there are at least two half-baked creative-writing assignments, such as "Lack Of Power: The Ford Tapes" (which posits that Gerald Ford is--get this!--a bumbling clod) and "Breakfast At Kennedy's," an overlong, repetitive diary entry recounting time spent with the Kennedy family. "Pen Pals" does an amusing job satirizing Mother Teresa and Princess Diana simultaneously, and "Vincent And Theo On AOL" pulls off some clever historical juxtaposition. (Historical figures occupy the bulk of Naked Pictures, from Adolf Hitler to Jesus Christ to Lenny Bruce.) Other pieces inspire occasional chuckles, with bonus points awarded for celebrity-book pitfall-avoidance: For the most part, Naked Pictures is neither cute, cloying, and autobiographically self-indulgent (see: Paul Reiser), nor pseudo-intellectual and self-satisfied (see: Steve Martin's new 104-page, double-spaced opus). It's just a mild, occasionally endearing trifle.


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