Staten Island is often a joke that needs not a punchline. Forever known by the world as being the literal dump that breeds bright orange, fist pumping Guidos, The Forgotten Borough has more recently been at the center of darker and more serious attention. Bipartisan separation has been at an all-time high as island natives are grievously divided by their opinions on Eric Garner, the NYPD, District Attorney Dan Donovan and his grand jury, and former Congressman Michael Grimm. As these dark clouds loom over Shaolin, Jon Stewart manages to shine a light on all of these landmark events with the perfect touch of sardonic humor that the island so desperately needs during these trying times.
As a native Staten Islander, living on the island has always been a blessing and a curse. It’s a hop, skip, and a jump (and a free boat ride) from the greatest city on earth, but still offers the perks of suburbia like parking spaces and backyards. At the same time, public transit is scarce and unreliable; we literally have only one train and it only runs along one of the island’s shorelines. You know that Sex in the City episode where they keep missing the ferry? That’s real life. Everybody knows everybody, which forms a close community bond in some cases, but makes discretion and avoidance nearly impossible. For a long time, we were the forgotten borough. We were on no one’s radar and only known for our enormous landfill and disgraced hospitals. Our only saving grace through all of this has been our hometown heroes, The Wu Tang Clan. Due to a slew of shameful and polarizing current events, we’ve finally become noticed under a national microscope.
It was embarrassing to be known as the borough with the giant landfill that bred juiced up bros whose skin matched the color of our ferry (believe me, they really do exist and they’re just as awful as they seem). It’s even more embarrassing to be known now as the borough who debunked the myth that a ham sandwich could be indicted. Even more humiliating than any of the aforementioned shame is that we re-elected a Congressman who not only threatened a reporter, but was facing indictment for white collar crimes. Just when it seemed that our embarrassing behavior had reached critical mass, Staten Island is now trying to elect the DA who failed to indict the officer who choked Eric Garner to take the place of our former shady Congressman.
The best way to handle an embarrassing situation is to laugh it off (and to change it, but that’s a different story for a different time). Thanks to Jon Stewart, we all had a cathartic laugh at the expense of our own ridiculous hometown. Stewart held no punches as he had plenty of zingers for former Congressman Michael Grimm, the people rooting for Dan Donovan, and of course, Shaolin’s trademark muscle milk drinking, bright orange, beefed up population. I won’t lie; I’m a little disappointed that he didn’t work a good joke about living on a pile of garbage into his bit. More importantly, Stewart managed to effectively convey the current state of our affairs by citing facts in a manner that was witty, fun, and entertaining. In 5 minutes, Jon Stewart perfectly depicts the mind blowing madness happening in the rugged lands of Shaolin while giving us all a good laugh. For the sake of positivity, at least Staten Island is the joke that keeps on giving.