There is something syntactically symmetrical about Steven-Johnson-Jon-Stewart, but rather than getting hung up on that it is more fun reading Steve “Everything Bad is Good for You” Johnson blog his appearance last night on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show:
Doing an interview like that is an intense form of mental gymnastics. I’ve done my fair share of 5-minute TV interviews — particularly for this book — and so I’m familiar with the compressed, self-editing of television time. You can’t let an answer go on for more than a few sentences, and in my case I have to repress my natural tendency to go meta on the question before answering it. But for every other TV interview I’ve done, the host is basically focusing on letting me get my message out; they ask the questions, but it’s really my show. With Jon Stewart, on the other hand, there’s a genuine interest in the material, but there’s also a mandate to be funny, or at least a mandate for him to be funny. And so you’re simultaneously trying to figure out on the fly how to compress your book’s thesis into television scale, and at the same time, you want to keep the flow of the talk-show banter going.