From: Greg Ruff, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
It has been a week since the Oscars concluded and I would just like to comment that you, Roger Ebert, seem to be one of the very few critics who realizes what a stellar job Jon Stewart did as the host. I have found several commentaries online saying that Stewart bombed, or that he is going to be listed among Letterman and Rock as one of the least funny hosts. It is here that I think you hit it dead on and many others miss it, that the audiences watching at home loved Stewart, and those in the crowd were a bit more withdrawn than they should have been.
The joke about tearing down the large Oscar statue and having democracy flourish throughout liberal Hollywood was right on, but not a large majority of those in the audience seemed to laugh. Is Hollywood really so concerned as being labeled as raging liberals that they now fear to laugh at the mistakes of our government?
And the joke about stealing movies and Stewart yelling at us to look at the beautiful and handsome and well dressed crowd and feel bad that these are the ones we are stealing from-- his timing was just great. I mean, sure, stealing is wrong, but has Hollywood this year really turned so stiff to not realize that, stealing being wrong as it may be, its not like these people are in any danger of not getting a full meal or a nice comfy bed to stay in? Overall, I commend you for you statement that Stewart should be seen as a great host. Maybe the reason so many think he bombed is their failure to be able to take a step back and laugh at themselves.