Jason Jones in Iran: in Which the Joke Was on Us

Last night, The Daily Show aired the last of Jason Jones’s segments shot in Iran—a strange, funny, and surprisingly moving mix of the satirical and the genuine. Jones played “football” with Iranian children, talked fashion with a young man at a mall, and interviewed the Iranian rapper Hichkas about his music (before airing a “rap video” of his own: “I’m the world’s greatest rapper in English and Farsi/ I’ve got more rhymes than tabbouleh’s got parsley.”)

The message, satire notwithstanding, was one of commonality, and community (as in the other segments, the butt of most of the jokes was the U.S.—and, more specifically, the American media’s general tendency to treat Iranians as other when, in fact, our cultures share so much). And it was political: Jones wore green at seemingly every chance he got, and concluded the segment with a voice-over that was nothing if not serious:

“As I watch what’s happening there now, I know that somewhere in that sea of faces are the same people I had met, people who were gracious enough to take me into their homes, and schools, and coffee shops, people who indulged my assinine questions, people I hope will be safe and not be harmed or arrested for the simple act of wearing green and wanting a voice.”

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.