Penn Professor of History and former College of Arts and Sciences Dean Richard Beeman’s 15 minutes of fame on Comedy Central are adding up. On May 18, he made his second appearance on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
The first time Beeman was on the program two years ago, Stewart opened the show announcing that his guest that night would be “supervillain Bee Man—half man, half bee.”
This time when Stewart welcomed Beeman back, he gave the professor his academic props, acknowledging, “You are an accredited historian [and] a constitutional scholar.”
Beeman is the author of seven books on the U.S. Constitution, including “The Penguin Guide to the American Constitution” released in 2010, and “Plain, Honest Men, The Making of the American Constitution,” the 2009 George Washington Book Prize winner.
Stewart told his audience that he brought Beeman back on the show to respond to recent guest, constitutional historian David Barton, whose take on the separation of church and state had the host’s head feeling “like the Liberty Bell after he left.”
Beeman was up to the task of clearing up Stewart’s feigned confusion. As a member of Penn’s faculty for more than four decades, the bespectacled and perpetually bow-tied Beeman is known on campus as a committed teacher with a strong sense of fun. His profound love of Constitutional history and lore makes him a hit both in the classroom and on-air.
After apologizing for being a “pedantic” constitutional scholar, Beeman handily matched comedic wits with “The Daily Show” host.
Stewart poked fun at Beeman when he pulled out his trusty pocket Constitution, quipping “For [James] Madison, it was full-size.”
Beeman good-naturedly played right along: “Tiny little guy, squinty little eyes,” he said.
“That killed at the Constitutional Congress,” Stewart deadpanned.
Beeman, who serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center, chuckled politely.
His book, “Plain, Honest Men, The Making of the American Constitution,” is now out in paperback.
Originally published on May 19, 2011