Jon Stewart’s Observational Humor Highlights Colonials Weekend

GW community, campus neighbors partake in Colonials Invasion, block party, brunch and other high-energy events.

Jon Stewart performing standup with microphone in hand
The comedian joked with the audience about his new look. "Now when people stop me on the street, they don't ask, 'Are you Jon Stewart?' Instead they ask,'Are you ok?'" (William Atkins/GW Today)
October 19, 2015

By Brittney Dunkins

When the lights dimmed on the Charles E. Smith Center Saturday evening, George Washington University students, parents, alumni and friends offered a standing ovation for comedian Jon Stewart, who took the stage for the first of two sold-out headlining performances at Colonials Weekend 2015.

After an introduction from GW President Steven Knapp, the newly bearded and grey-haired Mr. Stewart quickly tapped into his signature observational humor, which he quipped makes him a “wit in the vein of Mark Twain.”)

Foregoing a suit and tie for a casual light blue shirt and jeans, Mr. Stewart joked that the audience may not have recognized him since his retirement as host of the “Daily Show” two months ago caused him to “age prematurely.”

“I’m so happy to be here at the George Washington University to celebrate…whatever this weekend is for you,” he deadpanned.

Mr. Stewart riffed on everything from the “joy” of being a comedian while Donald Trump is running for the Republican presidential nomination to the undue praise given to politicians for being politically incorrect—when really they are just incorrect. He also discussed gun control, the pope and even his losing battle competing with his wife for his children’s affection.

“Also, why are there four Eighth streets in D.C.?” he asked midway through the performance. The question was met with knowing laughter from audience members who were all too familiar with the difficulty that visitors have navigating D.C.’s four quadrants.

GW parents and students check in for Colonials Weekend 2015. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)

Mr. Stewart is no stranger to hosting sold-out shows at GW. He previously performed during the 2005 and 2009 Colonials Weekend Celebrations and cohosted a sold-out mock debate at GW with conservative political commentator and “O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly in 2012.

In a rare serious moment during his performance, Mr. Stewart revealed that when he was asked to perform for Colonials Weekend for the third time, he immediately said yes.

“This is always a wonderful crowd, a smart crowd to perform in front of,” he said.

Colonials Weekend’s high-energy series of events began Friday evening with Colonials Invasion, the annual spirit rally to kick off the 2015-16 basketball season.

Colonial pride was on display at Colonials Invasion Friday evening. (Zach Marin/GW Today)

Cries of “raise high!” filled the gymnasium as the university community welcomed the men’s and women’s basketball teams and applauded performances by the GW gymnastics team, the GW Bhangra dance team, the Voice Gospel Choir and more.

Saturday morning offered a glimpse into GW’s world-class leadership and faculty during the “Meet the Dean” breakfasts with the deans and faculty of the university’s five undergraduate schools and the “Classes from GW’s Best” series, which featured lectures by Professor of Theatre Leslie Jacobson and GW Assistant Professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Ekundayo Shittu, among others.

Other highlights of the weekend included a book signing and discussion with esteemed author and GW professor Thomas Mallon, a tour of the Mount Vernon Estate and a 3-D printing demonstration highlighting GW Libraries’ modern technology. The Vern Harvest at the Mount Vernon Campus also returned for family-friendly face painting, lawn games and other activities in celebration of the season.

In true D.C. fashion, Sunday morning was reserved for brunch. Some GW families opted for the free “all-you-can-eat” meal at Pelham Commons, while others preferred a performance with their meal and chose to attend the Colonials Weekend Jazz Brunch hosted by WRGW.

The Vern Harvest tradition continued this year on the Mount Vernon Campus with family-friendly fun to celebrate fall. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)

By Sunday afternoon, the 13th Annual Neighborhood Block Party was in full swing, gathering more than 100 local businesses, student organizations and GW departments including the School of Nursing’s “Ask a Nurse” booth, which offered free health screenings.

The GW Office of Government and Community Relations hosts the annual event to bring together the GW community and residents of the Foggy Bottom and West End neighborhoods.

“It’s wonderful to see so many people out here today celebrating how far we have come as a community,” said D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2).

GW Take a Selfie from The George Washington University on Vimeo.


The crisp fall air was not a deterrent to attendees who spent the afternoon on I Street NW between 22nd and 23rd streets sampling food from local vendors, watching performances on the main stage and getting to know one another.

“I hope that you are all enjoying yourselves at the Neighborhood Block Party, which is truly a university tradition that we can proud of,” Dr. Knapp said. “This is the 13th annual block party, and each year it is an opportunity to bring together GW students, parents, faculty, alumni and friends for a final celebration during Colonials Weekend.”

GW President Steven Knapp talks with GW families at the Neighborhood Block Party on Sunday. (William Atkins/GW Today)

As afternoon clouds rolled in, Associate Dean of Students Tim Miller took the stage with the Tim Miller Band.

GW sophomore Anna Du and freshman Sarhana Fernandes said they were glad to celebrate Colonials Weekend and explore so many aspects of university life that they hadn’t before.

“I’m an international student from India, so this is my first Colonials Weekend, and it has been great,” Ms. Fernandes said. “My parents couldn’t make it because it is such a long journey, but it has still been nice to see everyone on campus—I had no idea it would be so busy.”