Celebrity Smarts

In the entertainment world being smart won’t necessarily make you successful — but having a little grey matter to fall back on has to be a comfort. In recent days there’s been quite a bit of good news for folks who can put two sentences together without a publicist. Let’s take a look.

Jon Stewart. The host of “The Daily Show” has been given the nod to host the Oscars early next year. It’s his second shot at the big gig after getting lukewarm reviews in 2006. Actually, I think the major mistake he made last time out was trying to be too accessible — he wanted everyone in on the jokes. He happens to be a celebrity who doesn’t hang out with celebrities and I think he was a little intimidated by the room. Let all that go Jon, use that “Daily Show” Ouija board to point you in the right direction. Keep it topical, don’t suffer fools quietly, and be gracious to those who deserve it. You belong on that stage as much as the stars do, and if some of them don’t get your jokes — you’re probably right on target.

Steve Martin. Steve’s in pretty cool company as an upcoming recipient of a Kennedy Center lifetime achievement honor — Leon Fleisher, Diana Ross, Martin Scorsese and Brian Wilson are the others. Martin’s in Boston right now shooting a sequel to “The Pink Panther.” I’d rather feed my eyeballs to the cat than see that film, but Martin has proved to be a remarkable performer over the years. I think he’s at his best when he tones down the silly and ratchets up the smart. He delivered a stunning performance in the movie musical “Pennies From Heaven” — brought grace and pathos to his Cyrano update “Roxanne” — and proved himself a solid playwright with “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” I know Martin gained famed with a fake arrow through is head, but anyone who can play the banjo and quote from the works of the ancient Greek philosophers has to have plenty going on upstairs.

Al Franken. I don’t know if anyone else watched the SNL special that ran over the Labor Day weekend, but every time Al popped up for a quote — or a clip — it was golden. He’s so quick and dry you could patch your sidewalk with him. Right now he’s running for U.S. Senate in Minnesota and man I hope he wins. Sure, he’ll have to tone it down to pull it off, but can you imagine how much fun it would be to have someone with wit — instead of inflexible ideology on Capitol Hill? Yes, I’m aware that Al leans a tiny bit to the left, but it’s common sense that seems to be his true political guide. Wait a minute, maybe he doesn’t stand a chance after all!


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