By Paola Crespo
Thursday evening on August 30th, countless people waited in line at the Straz Center in Tampa, Florida to attend The Daily Show by Jon Stewart. On account of the Republican National Convention being held in Tampa, Jon Stewart flew down from his usual set in New York City to host his show in the midst of the action in Tampa.
On August 28th, the show aired an episode whose first half centered on the city of Tampa. Amongst other jokes and remarks, Tampa’s heat was compared to “a subway platform in Haiti,” and it was commented that the city was “too humid to breathe.” Samantha Bee, one of Stewart’s correspondents, was taken away by a giant flying palmetto bug, while Jason Jones was doing his segment from a strip club, saying, “I’m in the strip club district of Tampa, or as they call it here: Tampa.”
Most of the people waiting in line for the show Thursday evening at the Straz Center were Tampa locals. Amongst the show’s attendants were Julia Freeman, Lois Robinson, Stephanie Hawk, and the funny Cristina: “I’m like Madonna, I only have one name.” These four women and close friends were fans of Jon Stewart and were “very excited that he [was] in Tampa.” When questioned about Stewart’s remarks on Tampa, they responded, “It’s fabulous,” “It’s all true.” They were not upset about the negativity, on the contrary. “It’s ours and we claim it all,” they said. “We can laugh at ourselves.”
All four women live in downtown Tampa in close proximity to the RNC. They were “excited to hear what [Jon Stewart had] to say about [it].” However, they were not excited about the RNC itself. “I’ve been avoiding it like the plague,” Cristina said. “We’re really here only to see him,” added Freeman.
Unfortunately, not everyone was able to enjoy the show. John Rogers, another Tampa resident, was standing outside of the building with two other people in his group who had come to see The Daily Show. He had reserved four tickets and arrived with his group at the Straz Center, but they were told to come back around 4:30 p.m. When they returned at the prompted time, they were notified that their tickets had been given away. They were left with only one ticket and no way of retrieving their lost ones or returning another day. As a result, they could not attend the show. “It feels like we’ve been cheated,” Rogers said.
In response to Stewart’s comments about the strip clubs and weather, he said, “It’s not like what he said was inaccurate. He might have said it in a negative way but it doesn’t bother me.” Like Freeman, Robinson, Hawk and Cristina, Rogers is a fan of Jon Stewart and was very enthusiastic about attending his show, but was not such a fan of the RNC. “I’m not really interested at all with the RNC,” he commented. He said he hadn’t attended any of its events and hadn’t even been watching it on TV.
It appears that the majority of the fan-packed theatre of the Straz Center that night was there to see and hear Jon Stewart in the flesh regardless of the content of his show. For many, the topic of the RNC was not a big influence on their decision to attend. Nevertheless, the sarcastic humor on Tampa’s flaws was well received and people were excited to hear more of what Stewart had to say about their beloved city.