Blair finds comedy show hard going

Tony Blair was tickled when Jon Stewart, the host of America's Daily Show, asked if George Bush would forget the cross-pond time difference and call him at four in the morning, laughing louder than at other moments during an appearance on the programme - and not denying that it used to happen.

When asked what it was about Mr Bush that kept their partnership as world leaders alive, the former prime minister had the grace to look sheepish: "Here's something I find always goes down well, particularly back home," he said. "I like him." Mr Stewart, who has been a relentless critic of the President and the war in Iraq, could only reply, "I would probably like him too, if he wasn't in charge of me."

But that was about as funny as it got. Mr Stewart, whose nightly stint on Comedy Central has increasingly influenced political discourse in the United States, interviewing the self-consciously funny Mr Blair should have been good for some laughs. But oddly it wasn't and we did not find out an awful lot about him that we did not know already.

Hardly the first former head of government to appear on the programme - the likes of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Pervez Musharraf had trodden the Daily Show boards before him - Mr Blair seemed almost ill at ease, wary of whatever Stewart zingers might be coming his way. Mr Stewart, for his part, remained respectful, often eschewing comedy for real inquiry, especially as regards the Iraq war.

Mr Blair was not about to say the invasion had been a mistake. He did admit, however, that he "would have been shocked" if he had known in advance the degree of bloodshed and violence that it triggered. "Saddam was removed more than five years ago but since then you've been fighting the type of battle against the same type of people that you've been fighting all over that region," Mr Blair added.

Pushed on Mr Bush's legacy, Mr Blair protested that he did not want to "get into" American politics. Nor was there any discussion of the current presidential race.

The interview came on the eve of Mr Blair making his debut as a guest teacher at Yale University, where he will co-teach a class on "faith and globalisation". He was due to address students on the New Haven campus later. It could be that teaching will make him more anxious even than appearing on fake TV news shows. "I'm sort of a bit nervous for it, really," he told the university's Yale Daily News. "I was never a star student, and I'm coming along mixing with a whole lot of people who I'm sure are a whole lot more clever and smarter than I am."

In a glancing reference to the recent days of chaos on Wall Street, Mr Stewart asked if "he'd picked the perfect time to come work in America... May I ask you this, sir: Did you get your money up front?" He had, the ex-PM replied.

Asked to describe the course at Yale, Mr Blair, who converted to Catholicism after leaving Number 10, said it had to with exploring how religion can do good in a globalised world rather than harm.

"Bits of religion are very extreme," he said, "and the other you can see in the work that faith groups do to alleviate poverty and disease and do great things in the world. So the question is, in the 21st century, which predominates: the good part that brings them together, or the bad part that pulls them apart?"

http://tonyblairfaithfoundation.org/

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells