Monday, December 27, 2010

Hilarious people make a difference

Among the many things for which I'm thankful this Christmas, I'm especially thankful to be teaching a ton of hilarious kids.  You frequently crack me up laughing during class.  I go home telling stories about the funny things you do.  I've had individual conversations with many of you about your use of humor.  Some of you have told me that you want to be comedians.

Have you ever watched Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Comedy Central?  I think he's funnier on some days than others but, regardless, he's hugely popular.  More than that, though, he gets people to listen to him.  He led a political/comedic rally on the National Mall in October.  President Obama has appeared on his show.  And, in the past few weeks, Jon Stewart was constantly calling for Congress to pass a law that gave aid to 9/11 emergency responders.

In the days after the 9/11 attacks, thousands of firefighters and other emergency personnel helped to clean up the area around Ground Zero.  Meanwhile, jet fuel continued to burn, releasing poisonous gases that the emergency personnel inhaled.  Years later, many of them are seriously ill and others have died because they inhaled those harmful gases.

To honor the emergency responders' service, Congressmen proposed legislation that would pay for their medical treatment.  But Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked the bill, claiming that--at a cost of $7 billion--it would be too expensive for American taxpayers.

Then Jon Stewart sprang to action, devoting an entire half-hour show to the 9/11 responders and the law.  He harshly criticized Republican senators with his usual wit.  Just days later, our senators--Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand--helped to convince the Republicans to pass a bill that would provide over $4 billion in medical treatment to the emergency responders.

Now, people are giving Jon Stewart--a comedian!--credit for making Americans aware of the 9/11 emergency responders bill.  And they're giving him some of the credit for making sure that the bill got passed!  "I'll forever be indebted to Jon because of what he did," said one 9/11 firefighter.

Here's a news article about Jon Stewart's advocacy.
And here's a link to his half-hour show about the 9/11 emergency responders.

What do you think?  Is Jon Stewart funny?  Is he an important American?  How has he been able to make a difference with his comedy?  Would you ever want to be like him?  Why or why not?

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