Jason Jones drew the short stick on Wednesday night's Daily Show. Jon Stewart began the show discussing his lactose intolerance, but things got rolling when he brought on Jones and fellow panelists Aasif Mandvi and Jessica Williams to play a game he called "Racist or Not Racist." The premise was to determine whether certain people in the news are exhibiting racism — a question cable news talkers frequently ask but seldom answer, Stewart pointed out.
The gag here is that Jones is white, while Williams is black and Mandvi is Indian. It's more cleverly presented than that: As Williams and Mandvi continue to find things racist and Jones opts for words like "adorable" and "creative," the panelists all tiptoed around their own race — until Jones asked if Stewart would bring on some "impartial judges." He can't explicitly bring up race, but that's the smart, almost subversive point of the segment: The label "racist" is so toxic we often just dance around the issue of race.
Anyway, Stewart brought out two impartial judges to help Jones out: The comic duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who happen to be Stewart's guests in the later part of the show. (The Week's Scott Meslow conducted his own interview of Key and Peele in September)
This was not the backup Jones was looking for. "Jon, they're not impartial," Jones pleaded — and at this point, "impartial" was an obvious code word for "white." Key and Peele made it explicit, noting that they're both mixed-race, "and it doesn't get more impartial than that." Things got a little tense, and then Key and Peele went off on some riff about sexual fantasies, and the "Is Jones Racist?" moment was over.
The rest of the segment returned to the "Racist or Not Racist" game, looking at recent flaps surrounding Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen and Sarah Palin. For those of you at home keeping score, Cohen was deemed "racist" (against white people) and Palin's comparison of the federal debt to slavery was just ridiculed.
Stewart rounded out the first part of the show by noting that New York City will officially have America's tallest skyscraper, as One World Trade Center was just judged to rise higher than Chicago's Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. Chicago isn't taking the loss of its four-decade-old crown without a fight. Stewart found the whole idea of competition between the two cities laughable... until Chicago claimed pizza superiority. This prompted him to go all gangster on deep-dish "pizza," accent and all. It's an impressive tirade. Watch:
Finally, here, if you're interested, is Stewart's interview with the stars of the eponymous sketch-comedy show Key & Peele: