The party-reporting business tends to make a person sensitive to hyperbole–so when we heard about “Night of Too Many Stars,” a live show and auction hosted by Comedy Central at the Beacon Theater on Saturday to benefit autism education, we were skeptical. But The Observer is happy to report that there were just enough stars at the show.
Most, like Tina Fey and host Jon Stewart, were comedy types who clean up nicely; but we also spotted Tom Brokaw, Naomi Watts and Tommy Hilfiger (who proudly informed us he’s an Observer subscriber). During the evening’s auction, Ms. Watts pledged $10,000 for the honor of having Steve Carell simulate an orgasm onstage using her name; her partner, Liev Schreiber, howled with laughter in the audience.
Daily Show correspondent John Oliver cleared something up: Any special gravitas we might hear in his voice can be attributed entirely to his accent. “It’s because I’m British. … This voice sounds disproportionately smart to American ears,” Mr. Oliver explained authoritatively. We were curious whether the effect goes both ways–do Americans sound stupid to him? “Yes, they do, yeah. Always, without exception,” he deadpanned.
Even his boss, Jon Stewart? “Yep. Absolutely. To me, he just sounds like some Jersey guy shouting at traffic every day,” Mr. Oliver replied, immediately calling to mind a few Rick Sanchez jokes we decided not to make. (Mr. Stewart, though, addressed the Sanchez scandal just a few minutes into his opening monologue.)
Fellow Brit Ricky Gervais gracefully bowed out of a question about politics: “I can’t think of anything, without sounding glib,” he said when The Observer asked what he considers the most absurd thing about the American political system. “I always worry about when they ask comedians about politics, you know what I mean? It’s like when you hear Lindsay Lohan say, ‘I’m going to vote for the black one!’ I don’t know enough.”
Sarah Silverman wore an Alice + Olivia cocktail dress to the show, but had changed into a more comfortable ensemble by the time we ran into her at the after-party, a swanky affair held at the Museum of Natural History’s “whale room.” Guests munched on seemingly infinite hors d’oeuvres and downed Ketel One cocktails; and though the DJ was perfectly competent, this group proved not to be much for dancing–they preferred to stand around in small, well-dressed groups, trying to make each other laugh. Joel McHale, in a J. Lindeberg sweater vest, proved that his cocky personae on The Soup and Community aren’t true to life: He was sweet as could be, greeting everyone who approached him with equal enthusiasm.
We also chatted with comedians Lewis Black and Jim Gaffigan, and the viral-video star Tay Zonday, before catching up with Soledad O’Brien, the CNN anchor, who looked lovely and comfortable in a fuchsia David Meister frock. “Journalists, we call them journalists!” Ms. O’Brien exclaimed when we referred to her job as a “news personality.”
Ms. O’Brien also told us that she had a strategy for how to avoid betraying her political sympathies by getting caught laughing at certain jokes. “This is the ‘TV Anchor Neutral Face,'” she explained, breaking into a wide, pleasant, noncommittal smile. “That’s not really laughing, that’s not not laughing, it’s just–middle,” she went on. “I’ve been in the business a long time.”
Inspired by the savvy Ms. O’Brien, we were feeling generous when we encountered Olivia Munn, the Daily Show correspondent who made waves when she was hired, allegedly, for her looks rather than her brains. (To confirm the obvious: She is gorgeous.) Tell us what you’re reading, Ms. Munn!
“Um, anything that has pictures in it,” she responded. Sigh–at least we tried.