The scene featured the kind of irony that makes spoof newscasts worth watching: ignorance controlling expertise, the jocular triumphing over the serious, the layman anchor taking the scholarly, bespectacled professor to task on the subject of his own book.
“Maybe it’s the coffee people—if they had created a more complete product, we wouldn’t need cigarettes,” suggested Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” to his guest, Allan M. Brandt, the Harvard medical historian and author of “The Cigarette Century.”
“Well, it’s certainly possible,” Brandt, a picture of scholarly patience, bemusedly replied.
“Are you humoring me?” Stewart asked, accusingly, drawing a chorus of laughs from the audience, and unwittingly providing the greatest irony of the June appearance.
At a time when interdisciplinary and campus-wide collaboration has been identified as a priority, Brandt, appointed last week as the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, will likely find his greatest asset to be his capacity to humor and unite the far-flung, autonomous, and occasionally disparate elements of a complex University community.